Franscisco Jose Mora Casalles  ("Paco")

Good research contacts led to good project work for Spanish intern

For two months, Franscisco Jose Mora Casalles has been an intern at Linnaeus University. He brought with him a recently completed double bachelor’s degree in mathematics and computer science, and he will soon start his master program at his home university, University of Murcia, Spain.

But in between came Linnaeus University. How did it happen?
“I wanted to go abroad and was looking for somewhere to go. My supervisor knew a researcher here, so he contacted me,” says Francisco Jose (or Paco as he is called).

Paco is a trainee in a Forte project on predicting drug risks and drug-related problems. The project is led by Associate Professor Tora Hammar and is linked to LNUC Data Intensive Sciences and Applications (DISA).

What are you doing in the project?

“My main work has been to explore and prepare the data to make it suitable for a machine learning model that actually learns to predict whether a patient could suffer from a medical condition as a result of taking multiple drugs,” he explains. “I have also been working on methods to visualise the data we have, which can help create better solutions for our problem.”

There are now only a few weeks left of your traineeship here. How has it been in Sweden for you?

“At first it was quite confusing, but people are really nice and welcoming, and the weather hasn't been too bad,” Paco says with a laugh. “People really scared me before I came here.”

When Paco talked to other trainees, he felt slightly traumatised as many of them find it very difficult to find accommodation. But that wasn't the case this time.

“Diana sent me some links to different short-term accommodation, and that made it very easy. I live at Skäraton near the campus, and it seems that almost everyone I talk to has lived there at some point when they came to Växjö. There are also direct flights between Alicante and Växjö, so it was very easy to travel here.”

Diana Unander is a research and project coordinator at the Department of Computer Science and Media Technology. She has been one of Paco's contact persons and tells us more about the contacts between the researchers.

“What is particularly good for Paco is that he is directly linked to an ongoing project. His Spanish supervisor has previously worked with Tora in connection with EUniWell, so they knew he would be perfect for what the project needed,” Diana explains.

She thinks more people should think along these lines.

“For two months, Paco is a 100 per cent additional resource in a designated project. This is a very good way to strengthen cooperation between researchers and cooperation within EUniWell. It also gives trainees and PhD students the opportunity to contribute with real work in real projects. This kind of contact between researchers enables a deeper collaboration, and it creates great value for the trainee as well,” she says.

Diana also points out that coming as a trainee to another country where you don't know anyone can be lonely. A supervisor who is also involved in the social aspect makes it easier for trainees.

“We have done many social activities, for example we have had cooking evenings and after work. We have also tried to broaden some of Paco's perspectives,” laughs Diana. ”It has been great to have him here.”

On the list of new things Paco has done in Sweden, he has seen a doctoral dissertation, learnt to cook and attended an ice hockey game. He has also visited Malmö and Stockholm.

“Yes, it has been a lot of new experiences and a lot of fun,” says Paco. “One of my favorite things here has been meeting new people from many different countries and cultures.”