An Intersect Segment: Interviews with an eRA: 3

Intersect is pleased to continue our eRA segment, Interviews with an eRA. In this article, we have interviewed Abdullah Shaikh, who is currently Intersect’s eResearch Analyst at the University of New South Wales, where his role includes creating systems and providing several training sessions on multiple programming languages and software for the research community.

Academic Background: PhD, Environmental Science and Sustainability

Personal Interests: Data science, programming, data analytics, simplifying complex graphs, spatial data analysis, and research.

Past Experience: Abdullah has 5+ years experience in teaching and training on probability, statistics and programming; 2+ years industry experience in automotive sector.

My research area is in the field of environmental sustainability. In my PhD, I assessed the shared responsibility of countries for responsible consumption and production of agri-food commodities. I did that using the combination of the global environmental footprint of agri-food trade, optimisation models, trade metrics, and the planetary boundary framework.

I am a keen programmer of Python, R, and MATLAB. I have used these languages to carry out my research, and I love to teach them to others. Therefore, I provide a lot of Intersect training sessions to the researchers of UNSW.

During my PhD, I discovered that I like to make innovative visuals of complex and multi-dimensional results. I use this skill to help the researchers at UNSW to create visuals of their research outputs. Furthermore, I help my Research Technology Services (ResTech) colleagues draft figures and graphs for their internal reporting.

Over the years, I have developed problem-solving skills. Much of the research support I provide is around giving the right pointers to the researchers to find solutions to the bottlenecks. I believe that my problem-solving skills help me assess the researchers’ queries and suggest solutions quickly.

The work culture of Intersect inspires me most. Everyone here is so friendly and races to help fellows that require it. There is always a sense that someone will have your back, which is a great feeling. 

When I joined as an eRA for the University of New South Wales, I had to create systems for the university to plan, schedule effectively, and execute training sessions. For that, I had to make a digital research training dashboard that could help me assess the training outlook. This is the project that I am most proud of. The underpinning work of that dashboard involved a lot of data wrangling and pre-processing training data.

Since I love doing visualisations, I loved working on the dashboard. At this stage, the dashboard is used frequently by UNSW stakeholders, Intersect managers, and me to get training statistics on the fly. It also helps me track our training performance and schedule future training sessions.

The thing that I have taken away from my role as an eRA is the importance of teamwork. The eResearch Analyst team at Intersect carries out their projects so well as a team.

In addition, the support network of eRAs is exceptional. I realised that when I went on an unexpected parental leave early. The way my colleagues jumped in to offer help to support the planned activities at UNSW was just incredible.

For any enquiries regarding Intersect’s eRA services, please contact