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The Rapport Report

September 15th, 2021

Looking Back on Summer 2021 Internships with Nathaniel Dziura

by Madeline Ostrander, Content Marketing Manager

This summer we had the pleasure of having Nathaniel “Nat” Dziura join our team for a summer internship. Working alongside Georgia Clarke, Lead Data Engineer, on the Data and Linguistics Team, Nat’s work has been crucial to studying the technical aspects of implementing emotion recognition into machine learning models. He is currently a third-year Ph.D. student studying Linguistics at the University of Sheffield. His current research for his Ph.D. focuses on understanding how people's motivations contribute to the breadth of language variation they can acquire.

“It’s been really great having Nat join our team this summer! He has so much enthusiasm and was a lot of fun to work with,” said Georgia. “His work will help inform our next steps in multilingual emotion recognition, vital for improved emotive facial animation.”

Nat’s passion for linguistics and research is what drove him to apply for an internship with Rapport. Before joining the team, he organized a linguistics conference as well as a workshop series bringing together linguists from a variety of backgrounds. He saw the internship as a great opportunity to combine his experience with a desire to grow his coding skills.

“The ultimate aim of my research was to measure the extent to which non-native speakers are able to pick up on emotion content using non-semantic cues, compared to speakers of a language. This could be used to determine whether non-native speaker emotion annotation could be implemented in future corpora, or whether speech emotion recognition models could be applied to languages they weren't trained on.”

In addition to researching cross-linguistic understanding, Nat has played a key role in helping the Data and Linguistics team learn more about encoding emotion in human subjects. Nat’s work helped to further our understanding of the importance of semantic cues in emotion recognition, which will help inform our approaches to both data collection and modeling.

“The link between human cognition and machine learning is something I got to think about during our project. To more successfully implement machine learning processes, we need a better understanding of human mental processes,” said Nat. “I love that machine learning has so many tangible applications in filling real-life needs. I'm fascinated to see where this evolution of technological innovation takes us in the future!”

Jack Parry, Research Engineer, enjoyed having Nat on the Data and Linguistics Team this summer. “He brought invaluable language experience together with enthusiasm for the goals of the project. He also provided great insights when it came to analyzing the results of the data collection experiment. We wish him the best of luck in his future research!”

Nat will present his findings to the Company later this month to wrap up his internship. Afterward, he will finish up his studies in linguistics, hoping to present his findings on syntactic variation within a year. He hopes to pursue a career either in academia or programming to continue to stay connected in the world of AI and animation. In the meantime, he plans to keep his coding skills sharp by learning Python.

Want to join our growing team? Visit our revamped careers pages to learn about opportunities in Edinburgh, San Francisco, and our Budapest locations.


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