Matthew Coulson is a Master student in the informatics group of the Scientific Computing Research Unit. His research has dealt mainly with unsupervised learning techniques, creating software to aid in the separation of samples into clusters. This research formed the subject for his Masters in Computational Science. One of the key research themes in the SCR Unit is a molecular understanding of cancer. The software Matthew developed uses gene-expression data to provide a visualization which assists in differentiation between different types of cancer cells, as well as cancer vs. non-cancer cells.
After completing his degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering at UCT, Matthew wanted to study further. The research opportunities offered by the unit allowed him to use his existing programming skills to work on a problem with practical consequences. This provided a major motivation for him joining the unit, as it gave him an opportunity to explore research within his skill set, but with a new application. The transition between disciplines was not too challenging for Matthew, although his knowledge is primarily rooted in the realm of computing, of which the research of the unit is only a part. His place in the unit is that of a top-down problem solver. His software developments help apply, implement and interpret research breakthroughs already achieved by other members of the unit.