The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis


Interview with Dr Ana Basiri in Nav News

13 May 2020

You can read an interview with Dr Ana Basiri in the most recent issue of Nav News. The full Q&A (not all questions and answers were reproduced in the article) is included below.

Ana Basiri

Interview with Ana Basiri
1.) Name, age, where are you from?

Anahid (nobody calls me Anahid, though! I may recognise my own name as Ana) Basiri, 34 years (+17 months!), I am Iranian.

2.) What are the hobbies you will never give up?

Watching documentaries 

3.) How long have you been involved with RIN, and what was your first impression?

I am a member and have been RIN's attending meetings of some of the groups (such as Cognitive Navigation) and RIN's conferences since 2014 but since I became the Editor in Chief of Journal of Navigation I am more involved with more formal meetings with the director and the technical committee. 

4.) What is the best and worst part of editing the journal?

OK, I have two bets things one is reading very interesting papers, and the other one is communicating with authors and associate editors, some of whom are world-leading scientists. The worst part rarely happens but it must be spotting some similarities (I am sure it is not intentional plagiarism) which I turn the challenge to the opportunity of giving long lectures on research integrity and credit of work!

5.) Do you drive with Maps, GPS, or memory?

Oh, I am terrible at reading maps and navigating myself. I blindly follow the navigational instructions of navigation app/service or if I am not alone, just follow them! I found it magical when people can tell North or West while I barely can tell my right and left! I think that is why I came into this world as I know what is wrong with current maps and apps and I am trying to try different things, like 3D maps, or landmark-based navigation etc.

6.) If you were stranded on a desert island, what are your three must haves?

My mobile phone (with internet... does this count as two must haves?!) OK but joke aside, I need (1) a notebook and pen, (2) my miniature paint set, (3) and my favourite book, Saadi's Gulistan and Bustan -the landmark of Persian literature 

7.) What does your workstation look like right now? 

Messy, embarrassingly messy! Some big piles of paper, so many books around, several thank you cards, coffee mugs... you may see the picture (attached)

8.) Who is your inspiration?

I know it sounds very arrogant and narcissist, but whenever I find a situation or something difficult, I look back and see my own journey and then I feel there could be nothing harder than can break me. I am a woman from MiddleEast, the whole planet has told me to sit at home and be someone's wife/daughter. But I said no and continued. I had almost zero support but my lovely family and could become the first female PhD in the area of Geospatial Information Science in Iran. I got my degrees from a university that barely anyone can even pronounce correctly, and here I am an academic in one of the best Universities in my area of research in the world and recently got a very prestigious fellowship which is called Future leaders Fellowship! I took care of my late husband suffering from brain cancer for seven years and for that I chose to drive 7 hours a day everyday basis for two years to go to work at Nottingham while we lived in Southampton and Oxford for his work. So to be honest, whenever I am down I just look at myself and say, bring it on! 

9.) What project are you working on now?

My research (generously funded by UK Research and Innovation Future Leaders Fellowship) is about considering gaps, unavailability, and the uncertainty of data as a useful source of data. The main application of this is extracting the 3D map of cities based on the blockage and attenuation of signals coming from Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). Patterns of blockage, reflection, and attenuation of the GNSS signals can be extracted using spatio-temporal statistical, machine learning, and AI techniques. I use crowd-sourced GNSS raw data, contributed by the volunteers through the crowdsourcing framework of the project. This provides a ubiquitous and free of charge 3D mapping service for a wide range of applications including emergency services, positioning and navigation in urban canyons and indoors, energy consumption modelling, and drone and autonomous vehicles navigation. For this, I collaborate with world-leading academic and industrial partners, including Ordnance Survey, Uber, Alan Turing Institute, and engage with the public, policymakers and government.

10.) If you were a rapper, what would your name be? 

ANAstic (or with navigation theme: ANAvigator or GPSygirl)

11.) What is the best advice you have ever received or given?

I will share a few (I am sorry I have the best mentors around me and so picking one is hard!):

Once Our Vice-Provost (Research), Professor David Price once told me that whenever your instinct tells you to do something because you feel it is worth trying, as long as it is not illegal, go for it! Dont ask for too many permissions, act independantly... If it works, then great! you will develop confidence. But if it doesn't work, and you understand your choice was wrong and it was a mistake, then you can learn from it. Then you apologise but always better to ask for more forgiveness than permissions!

Once a colleague at The University of Nottingham, Dr Chris Hill, told that we regret more for stuff we didnt try vs the stuff that we tried and went wrong!

I have a colleague at Maynooth University of Ireland, Dr Peter Mooney, and he once said if something is hard or competitive, the success rate is low, but it would be zero if you dont try!

A wonderful colleague at the University of Southampton, Professor David Martin, said many confuse something "being normal" with something "being OK". 

12.) What is something you have had to learn the ‘hard’ way?

A million friends arent enough, but one enemy is too many

13.) What is your biggest achievement?

I am very grateful for where I am standing right now and I think the biggest achievement would be in the position that I am now despite all the challenges I have had!