[Humans of FDL] Bradley Gram-Hansen

Meet EO Researcher Bradley Gram-Hansen
Bradley talks about how a kid from “Shottingham” is now loving the PhD life.


FDL: Hi Bradley. Tell us what kind of background you bring the FDL Europe team?

BG-H: My general education is in mathematical physics. I moved into Machine Learning when I came to Oxford to do my PhD. My focus is currently on probabilistic programming and general purpose Bayesian inference. This is useful when we want to predict how the state of something is changing. For instance, predicting how the climate is changing or whether or not a medicine works given some external factors. Inference is all about predicting and creating models to describe these events and probabilistic programming is a nice interface to do this in an easy way.

FDL: What are your plans for what you do next?

BG-H: What I like about the PhD life is the flexibility to explore different ideas. I enjoy the flexibility to work on solving a problems that I find interesting and have some kind of social, or environmental application. I would be happy to work in industry if the project was one that I had enthusiasm for. I have, however, fallen in love with academia again. If I go back into industry, I would like to build my own startup, and the FDL programme has been instrumental in helping me understand where particular challenges may arise. In particular, this experience has made it clear there are real opportunities for ethical business models combining both machine learning and earth observation.


FDL: Do you have a favourite quote?

BG-H: “Life is nothing but an electron looking for a place to rest”. All the physical systems like to be in a ground state.. all chemical elements want to be iron because iron is very stable...and the earth is slowly going to a state of equilibrium. You start your life, and you grow very quickly. But then as you become older, most people would say you become wiser, more informed, and you tend to do things with less haste. That quote makes me think about life.

FDL: What is your proudest achievement?

BG-H: I feel very privileged and lucky to be here at Oxford. My mum died when I was nine years old, and my father suffered from severe depression and alcoholism for the most part of my life. My sister and I were alone for most of the time. Thankfully my Auntie Val (my mum’s sister) was always there to help. However, both me and my sister still managed to achieve so much despite the obstacles in our path. So, I am proud for how both me and my sister have turned out.  

I’m from Nottingham - a city that was nicknamed “Shottingham” when I was growing up due to the amount of gun violence. Yet despite the fact that the school I went to was among the ten most deprived schools in the UK, it actually performed rather well because all the teachers were very supportive. And though they crammed way too many kids into this school, I really benefited from being surrounded by such an interesting and diverse group of people. I remember in one class of 35, there was a total of 20 different languages spoken between the students. I feel that given the situation, I am very lucky. Some people say luck is hard work, but I think it’s a mixture of both: hard work enables you to have these opportunities… but you sometimes need just little things to fall into place, and thankfully those things have.

So yeah, making it all the way to my PhD is pretty great.

About Bradley Gram-Hansen

Bradley hails from Nottingham, the hometown of mathematical physicist George Green. His masters and undergraduate degree taught him about the works of Noether, Newton, Riemann, Dirac, Gauss, Euler, Von Neumann and many others. After learning about their great works, his own curiosity enticed him to start a DPhil at the University of Oxford, in the field of Machine Learning and A.I. In Bradley’s spare time he enjoys any activity where he has the ability to explore the world around him. This includes, but is not limited to, mountain biking, fell running, exploring different cultures, sport climbing, Terry Pratchett, Astronomy, learning (in general) and  camping.