2022 Ada Lovelace Honoree,
For the past three years, as part of the annual worldwide recognition of Ada Lovelace Day, Nokia has selected and announced its own Ada Lovelace Honoree. The global day of recognition for female researchers is named after Augusta Ada Lovelace (1815-1852), a pioneering British mathematician who is widely recognized as the world’s first computer programmer.
This year, Nokia is proud to recognize the contributions and work of Dr. Ester Gonzalez-Sosa who is engaged in computer vision research using Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the mixed reality (XR) environments.
This annual recognition is given to a female scientist within Nokia who makes an outstanding contribution to research in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) field globally for Nokia and demonstrates a commitment to serve as role models for women who are at the start of their scientific careers.
Dr. Ester Gonzalez-Sosa, joined Nokia Bell Labs in Madrid five years ago. Since then, Ester has been an important member of the Distributed Reality Solutions Team from her time in Bell Labs and now in the eXtended Reality Lab, an industry research lab under the umbrella of the ATG (Advanced Technology Group) group from CNS (Cloud & Network Services) business group. Informed by a strong empathy and desire for a fairer, more inclusive society, Ester brings a uniquely thoughtful approach to her research.
In just 10 years, Ester has conducted a phenomenal amount of work within her chosen field, gaining an M.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and a PhD from Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. Dr. Gonzalez-Sosa’s doctorial research entitled "Face and Body Biometrics in the Wild: Advances in the Visible Spectrum and Beyond" was conducted within the university’s Biometrics and Data Pattern Analytics (BiDA-Lab) She has subsequently carried out several research internships at world-leading groups in biometric recognition, such as; TNO, EURECOM, and Rutgers University.
Before her career began, Ester’s love for computer science stemmed from her parents, as she believes they helped her develop a “mentally inquisitive” way of life.
“I’m always looking for the next thing to explore and learn! From an early age, my parents encouraged activities such as traveling, learning musical instruments, and taking on a variety of extra-curricular courses. They made many sacrifices on my behalf so I could have a well-rounded early life, and I’m so grateful to them.”
Currently, in the CNS organization, Ester’s research is working on creating video-based self-avatars that work in real-time. “We’ve based much of our research on diversity and inclusion so that our AI reflects a fair and unbiased society comments Ester.
Before joining Nokia, like many others, it’s natural to have nerves taking on a role in a new company. Ester was no exception to this. “Nokia is such a big name in this industry, so I had some fear and self-doubt when I first began. But I said to myself, ‘It’s normal to be feeling these emotions. To make a decision based on fear would be very sad. Why don’t you try it out and see how it goes?’ I’m so happy that I had this conversation with myself! I’ve now completed five years of working with Nokia and I could not be happier.”
Now five years into her research with Nokia, Ester’s work remains special to her for the positive societal impacts that her specific research will have within AI and mixed reality (XR).
“For example, many patients in hospital therapy programs are not always able to access psychological treatments that require travel. With the assistance of the immersive camera systems we have developed, they are able to benefit from the therapy in real-time, even if they are confined or unable to commute.”
Alongside the work, Ester’s grateful for the “very dynamic atmosphere” she has with her team at Nokia whom she believes “she’s always learning from.” Ester wanted to recognize their contribution to supporting her, and although being recognized as an Ada Lovelace honoree, she “wouldn’t be where [she] is without [her] inspirational colleagues”.
“As a researcher, I see Nokia as the place where I can have one foot in industry and one foot in research. This way, the two can synergize – I can work on a project from the brainstorming stages all the way through to testing prototypes.”
Being recognized as an Ada Lovelace honoree is a significant achievement for Ester. The first computer programming language she ever learned was Ada, so she always holds Ada in her mind as a pioneering scientist. “It’s a real pleasure to be named as an honoree, after her. To hear from others that your work is valuable and that you’re doing well is so affirming.”
Ester dreams that the future of STEM has greater visibility across all backgrounds and that it is promoted in a well-rounded, interesting, and interactive way. Ester believes that “there are so many careers in STEM that could be better explained and explored – and a considerable amount of talent that could be used.”
For other aspiring female engineers, Ester’s one piece of advice is to “ask for mentorship – it could be as part of an official program, or even as a result of an inspiring relationship with a work colleague, relative or a friend. Keep asking questions, and above all, remain curious.”