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Mukta Aphale

Mukta

I was born in Pune, Maharashtra, India - aptly called the Oxford of the East, due to the many reputed educational institutions that call Pune their home. It is a big bustling city settled along two river banks and the main points of reference are the tens of bridges that connect the old and the new city.

The huge educated workforce combined with the beautiful surroundings (Pune is nestled in a valley along the Western Ghats) and the pleasant climate throughout the year served as a calling beacon to all the software giants and so began the software-led commercial boom.

This single event shaped my life as it did many others and I opted to study Computer Science. This led to me earning Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Computer Science from Nowrosjee Wadia College, University of Pune.

My Masters project was based at the Centre for Network Computing housed at the University of Pune. This was followed by a three-year stint with the global software giant Patni Computer Systems Ltd, where I honed my skills as a software engineer. A better opportunity was presented by AMDOCS, another big player in the software area and I was given the designation of a Senior Subject Matter Expert (software). This time also saw me get trained in the Japanese Language for business purposes.

These were exciting times - self-earned money to spend on food, designer-wear and movies, lots of fun outings and trips to the beautiful places my state had to offer and a generally rewarding professional experience. But, if I thought these times were exciting, the times ahead had a lot more in store for me!!

Mahabaleshwar, view from some point

At Fetherdale national park

Out of the blue, I found a life-partner in this world-traveller of a guy named Sumeet and he whisked me away to the beaches of Australia!

Sumeet goes by many names - Graduate student at the University of Wyoming, USA (2000 - 2005), Research Academic at the University of Newcastle, Australia (2005 - 2008), Research Fellow at the University of Aberdeen (2008 - 2009) and now people know him as Dr. Sumeet S. Aphale, Lecturer in Engineering, University of Aberdeen (2009 - present).

As his affiliations changed, so did mine and I went from Senior Subject Matter Expert, AMDOCS, India (2006) to Technical Officer, ASRB Project, University of Newcastle, Australia (2007 - 2008) and then to Research Assistant, Computing Science, University of Aberdeen, UK (2009 - present).

Moving through these varied and wonderful cultures shaped my life extensively and now I accidently use words like 'tucker' (food) or 'Fit like' (How are you doing?).

The rainforests of Cairns, the Great Barrier Reef, the beaches of Newcastle and Brisbane, the Sydney Opera house , Australian Opals, Scottish castles and the amazingly warm people I have come across everywhere are some of the many things I hold dear to my heart.

Sydney, Australia

Drum Castle, Scotland, UK

The industrial experience gave me the confidence to apply my skills to any given problem and find a solution and it also gave me a strong work ethic.

The academic experience gave me the chance to look beyond the computer screen and the lines of code and opened up the real world of software application - be it working with doctors working on Schizophrenia Research (Australian Schizophrenia Research Institute and the ASRB project, University of Newcastle, Australia) or computer scientists trying to develop tools to overcome communication deficits in children (Joking Computer, University of Aberdeen).

Over the years, my team-mates and my supervisors have guided me, helped me and taught me. Dr. Frans Heskens, Dr. Carmel Loughland, Dr. Judith Masthoff and Dr. Graeme Ritchie are people I feel privileged to have worked with.

My academic appointments both in Australia and here in Scotland have given me a lot of satisfaction and an excellent quality of life - so much so that I have decided to pursue a career in academic research. As a first step towards this goal, I have joined the Ph.D. program in Computing Science at the University of Aberdeen. I hope to continue working on the many exciting projects the department and life in general has to offer!