Stefan Röhrl

Who are you and what do you do? Who are your partners?
I am a research assistant at the Chair for Data Processing at the Technical University of Munich. My field of interest ranges from the analysis of holographic cell data to biomedical user interfaces and artificial creativity. My partners are the Heinz Nixdorf Chair of Biomedical Electronics and Merck KGaA. Together we solve problems of machine learning in the harsh and unpredictable environment of biology and medicine.

When did you join the Software Campus and why are you in the program?
My team and I started to lay the foundation for a modern and interactive platform in 2019 at the Software Campus, which will allow researchers and engineers from various disciplines to apply the latest learning algorithms to unknown biological data.

What do you expect from the Software Campus?
What I like about my project is the cooperation with different disciplines, the social benefits and the use of the latest methods in the field of computer science. At the same time, these aspects pose great challenges, for which I am better equipped with the training courses and workshops. The support provided by the Software Campus gives my dissertation greater depth, broader context and new opportunities that I could not achieve without it.

What is the content of your IT project and how could it be applied in the future?
My goal is to create a software framework with an ergonomic user interface that serves as a lingua franca between the doctors, biologists, patients and engineers involved. My team and I thus create a basis for the common data exchange, data management and visualisation. Explainable machine learning algorithms will ensure interpretability and robust recognition of cellular features in the label-free holographic images. User-centred selection and design of the tools will assure the necessary transparency and intuitiveness. The platform offers sufficient flexibility to continuously integrate the latest findings in machine learning and computer vision. The cooperative development strategy improves user acceptance and confidence in the solutions found. In the future, our tools will simplify the acquisition of data-supported knowledge about the course of the disease and the response to therapy, thus enabling the development of future-oriented and patient-oriented preventive diagnostics. Click here to read more about Stefans project Cellface.

Do you associate funny or exciting memories with computer science? What fascinates you about computer science?
I had my first exciting experience with computer science when I started to develop an economic simulation with my best friend during my school days. We taught ourselves PHP, SQL and JavaScript, which I would never have managed without him, because school education took up too much time.Unfortunately the game was never finished, but in our minds it will always be perfect. In general I am fascinated by the idea that you only have to press the right letters in the right order on the keyboard and you can achieve anything in the world.

Which app/technical invention is indispensable for you?
The appointment calendar with push notification has become an essential part of my working life. Without it, I would constantly forget meetings and students would have to wait outside my office door. When I am engrossed in a technical problem, I tend to forget the time and work for the moment.

Have you been particularly impressed by a personality from computer science or management?
In my life I have met three personalities who have had a lasting influence on my image of information technology and management. On a daily basis, my current boss Prof. Dr. Klaus Diepold shows me and my colleagues how specialist knowledge, leadership and humanity can be combined. In addition, I have learned from the founders Dr. Rainer Stetter (ITQ GmbH) and Michael Englert (ITK Engineering GmbH) how to conduct business in a cordial and direct manner and thus motivate employees incredibly.

Do you think there is “the” quality a top manager has to have today to be successful?
Respect for all employees, no matter at what level.

What has been the biggest challenge you have had to face so far in your IT career?
At present, I am facing the challenge of eliminating misconceptions about what computers can and cannot do. Furthermore, it is not always easy to communicate the research interests of a data scientist in an interdisciplinary environment. Often IT infrastructure and IT tools are taken for granted and not as an object of development let alone as a scientific discipline.

Imagine: Internet breakdown for 1 month – what are you doing?
Finally holidays.

What does your heart beat for – besides job and Software Campus?
For my girlfriend and my family, without whom I would not be where I am now.