Settling Down in Belfast

Hello everyone,

Time really flies! It has already been two months since my arrival at Queen’s University Belfast. During the past two months, I have settled myself down in Belfast, turned this harmonious city into my new home, and taken the first steps for the development of my “Novel Image Analysis Software” project and toward the ultimate goal of the FoodSmartphone project, which is to achieve the on-site smartphone based bio-analytical system for food safety detections. I would like to share my experience of settling down in my new home called Belfast, the progress of my work, and the amazing travel adventures with you in this blog.

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A view of Northern Ireland on a plane

Starting with my experience of settling down in Belfast. I arrived in Belfast days after my first blog was written. The clean and cool air blowed on my face as soon as I stepped out of the plane at the Belfast International Airport after a more-than-20 hours’ flight from Hangzhou, China. The first big challenge for me when I just arrived in Belfast was to find the right place to live. Because I arrived at Queen’s University in September, and it was the time when all people coming back to school, it was extremely hard for me to find a suitable place. Thanks to my friend Sam, I was lucky enough to settle down in a nice apartment close to the university after an interview with my current landlord. Of course, things were not always going smoothly. I had to deal with tons of paper works and lost my bike after parking it by the road over a weekend. However, all these annoyances vanished after I had a beer with the other two Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) here at Queen’s, Jordi & Javier, and appreciated the beauty of the nature & architectures here in Northern Ireland.

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Queen’s University at Belfast
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A view of the river Lagan near Queen’s University Belfast

I did not realize the importance of our FoodSmartphone project until I was suffered from two severe gastroenteritis after my arrival in Belfast (my immune system was not ready to defend against the new bacteria). The gastroenteritis could have been prevented with the help of a smartphone based on-site food safety analysis system, and this experience had become a motivation for my research.

When I first started working on my project, even though the direction of my research was very clear (novel image analysis software for food safety analysis), I was almost lost in the ocean of knowledge and could hardly find the suitable objective to get started with. Luckily, thanks to the just completed RAFA 2017 conference, the three-month and nine-month reviews of the PhD program at Queen’s, I could plan my research objectives and milestones depending on these events. During 6th to 10th November, four (Aris, Javier, Jordi, and I) of the ESRs attended the RAFA conference held in Prague. I was lucky to have the opportunity to showcase the demo app that we have made at the FoodSmartphone exhibition in the conference. In general, the app is capable of quantifying multiple test strips’ results in a single image by interpreting colour or saturation changes on those test strips. There are two types of user accounts: Agent and User. The difference between them is that the agent can manage their strip types and carry out operations such as creating new strip types, uploading and managing training sets by themselves, whereas the user can only predict results of certain strip types that have already been trained and provided. Meantime, The agent and user can both manually place and resize the reference or result markers on the image with multiple test strips to train the strip type or predict test results. In the near future, image analysis and machine learning techniques will be applied to this app to achieve automated reference and result marking. I will introduce more about image analysis and machine learning techniques in the future blogs.

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FoodSmartphone exhibition during RAFA2017 in Prague

To attend the RAFA conference, I traveled to London to apply for the Czech Visa. I had not stayed in London for too long, but the glorious city amazed me a lot. My first impression on London was that it was large, with 5 airports! Public transportations of London was super convenient. One can choose subways, trains, famous red double-decker buses, or boats on the river Thames to travel around. I think London is a city well combining modern and historical architectures. Eventually, I found myself lacking of time to go around the city within 3 days. Maybe Gina could give some valuable advice of visiting London😁.

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The Covent Garden in London

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The British Museum

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A street view of London

Finally, I would like to share some photos taken during my trips in Belfast and Bangor.

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The Titanic Quarter in Belfast
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The Belfast City Hall
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The dock in Bangor

Thank you for reading my blog. Sorry about the delayed post. I would like to finish my second blog with my sincere thanks to my supervisors, colleagues, and friends who gave me help during my work and the period of settling down. Hope you all do well.

Cheers!

Yunfeng

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