Mendeley Advisor of the Month: July 2018

Mendeley july advisor of the month

Mendeley advisor of the month: Gabriel de Oliveira Ramos is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Artificial Intelligence Lab from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium). He obtained his PhD (with highest honours) and MSc degrees in Computer Science from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil) in 2018 and 2013, respectively. Ramos’ research focuses on multiagent reinforcement learning and game theory, especially in the context of complex scenarios, such as traffic and smart grids.

How did you get into your field and what is your research story?

I started to write my first computer programs at 14 and developed, since then, my passion for Computer Science. Not much later, during my bachelor’s first year, I got in contact with Artificial Intelligence (AI) for the first time and decided that AI would be my research field. In the following years, I developed my research on different AI topics, including machine learning, game theory, and planning. In all cases, my research has always been motivated by real-world problems, like traffic, electricity grids, and logistics. Moreover, the theoretical properties of my methods have always played a role in my research.

Where do you do your research/work the best? What kind of environment suits you?

Any environment where I can balance insightful discussion sessions (with my peers) with silent study sessions. Good computer resources are also extremely useful, together with the traditional paper-and-pen combination.

How long have you been on Mendeley? 

I started using Mendeley in June 2013, just after I finished my masters, to organize the mess of my references at that time.

What were you using prior to Mendeley and how does Mendeley influence your research?

Keeping track of the literature is fundamental in science. Before using Mendeley, I had all my references grouped by topics into folders of my computer. The main problem, however, was to efficiently store my annotations and conclusions about such references. With Mendeley, I could finally store all my notes in an efficient and reliable way. Together with the nice search mechanism, it became easier for me to focus on my research.

Why did you decide to become an Advisor and how are you involved with the program?

I have been a Mendeley enthusiast since I started using it (indeed, it has considerably increased my productivity on specific tasks). As such, I always spread the word about it. Moreover, I contributed to Mendeley by suggesting important improvement several times. In this sense, I always felt as an informal advisor, which became a formal status in May 2015.

What researcher would you like to work with or meet, dead or alive?

My work has been inspired by so many brilliant researchers that I could not mention all of them here. Among them, I should definitely highlight Prof. Avrim Blum (TTI-Chicago), Prof. Michael Bowling (UAlberta), and Prof. Tim Roughgarden (Stanford), whose works motivated (and shed light on) my PhD research.

What book are you reading at the moment and why?

The second edition of Reinforcement Learning: An Introduction, by Sutton and Barto. It is always important to refresh such fundamental topics.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned this week?

I attended some of the world’s most important conferences on Artificial Intelligence (ICML and AAMAS), and I enforced to myself the belief that, as a researcher, you should always be open-minded and eager for learning new things.

What is the best part about working in research?

You are always learning new ways of solving problems that could potentially improve people’s lives.

And the worst/most challenging part about working in research?

Sometimes (almost always, in fact) the answer is not the one you would expect. Although challenging, that is what moves science forward (and actually, that is one of the most exciting parts of doing science).

What is the one thing you want people to know about Mendeley?

Mendeley really makes your reference management easier.

Mendeley moves into the cloud: It’s nice up here!

Mendeley Kite Cloud by Tom Atkinson www.r3digital.co.uk
Photo by Tom Atkinson @R3Digital

Last week we took what might seem like a small step, but was in fact a very giant leap by moving mendeley.com into the cloud. Now you might be thinking “Mendeley is already cloud-based, what are you talking about?” It’s true that our users can access their papers, annotations and all other data on any device, so we’re very much a cloud platform. In the past, however, Mendeley’s own servers were not cloud-based, which meant that the process of maintaining, updating and developing the product was sometimes not as optimal as it could be.

It’s a problem that many start-ups face, specially as they scale up, since it’s expensive and time-consuming to overhaul your systems without causing significant disruption to your users*. That, however, is one of the advantages of having the support and resources from Elsevier, who are investing on the Mendeley structure to make sure that we’re sustainable, scalable, and able to integrate with and develop tools and functionalities to meet researcher’s needs.

Having our data in the cloud means more reliability, speed and the ability to really make the whole development process more agile. That certainly means a happier Mendeley team, and we know it will help bring a better, faster-improving product for our community.

There was a real space-launch atmosphere as various Mendeley teams came together to work out the complex logistics of moving over 100 Terabytes of user data safely into the cloud, but it all went smoothly, thanks to the brave efforts of Robin Stephenson, James Rasell, Chris Barr, Callum Anderson, Kubilay Kara, James Gibbons and Merrick Barton (Jan was just basking in the atmosphere while feeling smug following the Germany-Brasil game).

Mendeley Control Room

We hope you like the improvements that this change will bring, we’re certainly excited about the future up here in the cloud!

* We did have a small amount of down time on Wednesday as the move happened, and apologies go to anybody who was inconvenienced.

Meet the Mendeley Community!

As we cross over into the latter half of the academic semester, I can already tell it’s going to be a great semester for us. We’ve crossed over a million users and have seen millions of documents added in the past few months. This isn’t to toot our own horn, though, because we couldn’t have done it without the support of the wonderful Mendeley community. So I’d like to take a few sentences to thank everyone who has made this our best semester yet.
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Science and Drinks at Mendeley was a success!

Last Friday, 30 folks came over to the Mendeley offices in New York for drinks and conversation. Attendees were from all over the city, including NYU, Columbia, City University of New York, Einstein College of Medicine, and Nature Publishing’s NY. James Hedges and Umesh Rajashekar, post-docs from The Laboratory for Computational Vision at New York University spoke briefly about how they use Mendeley and how they’re trying to spread the word about us. They initially picked Mendeley because it’s cross-platform and has great annotation features, but came to realize that the social networking component is really useful for finding related research. Their main challenge has been convincing their PI and the senior post-docs who are already set in their ways that it’s worth the time to switch to Mendeley. It’s worth mentioning that two of the top 10 papers in computer science on Mendeley are on the subject of computer vision, so perhaps they’re doing a really good job!

Here’s a few pictures from the night:Read More »

One on one with Bruce D'Arcus, creator of the community-driven Citation Style Language

Bruce D'ArcusMost of our users know that Mendeley can format citations automatically in most word processors. Some may not realize, however, that this bit of magic wasn’t developed entirely by us. Rather, we use tools that were created by a global community of academics and released for everyone to use. I recently had a conversation with the initiator of this movement, Bruce D’Arcus, on where the project is going, what it means to research, and how you can take part.Read More »