EVO-NANO Q&A – Sebastien Lafond on computational power for cancer (and coffee!)

First of all, could you please introduce yourselves to the readers? I’m sure they would like to get to know the people behind this project. 

I am a senior lecturer at Åbo Akademi University in Turku, Finland. After graduating with a master’s degree from France, I moved to Finland to enroll as a PhD student at the Turku Center for Computer Science and then obtained my PhD from Åbo Akademi University.

As a lecturer I am involved in both education and research activities. I teach several courses in our Master’s Degree program in Information Technology and Nordic Master program in Intelligent Software Systems. 

In my current research activities, I am mainly interested in the development of approaches to enable the efficient execution of software on complex heterogeneous computing platforms. Lately the focus was to develop run-time systems that would reduce the energy consumption of streaming applications using data-flow programming models. 

In this project our main task is to develop a scale-able version of the integrated evolutionary cancer simulation environment for in silico tests. Based on the obtained results, the most promising evolved nanoparticle strategies could then be tested on on-a-chip devices for in vitro validation.

If a researcher wanted to visit your laboratory/facility/company, what would be one thing you’d be eager to show off? Can you provide an image or a paper that shows it? 

Photos from labs in software engineering or in computer science are usually a bit boring as you only see lots of computer screens, and we are no exception to the rule…

But we are very proud of having probably the best coffee machine of all research labs in the city! 

We also co-developed a (programmable) coffee table with an artistic approach. The table can react to sounds and the placement of cups using different light colours and animations.

What’s your current outlook on the future of your work? Will your computational power open up new paths to ideas that humans can’t yet see? 

The current trend with a constant increase in available computational capacity will definitely have a great impact. 

The integration of data analytics approaches with more powerful computing systems will open up new paths to answering a variety of real-life problems we are currently facing. The plethora of application fields is wide and sometimes beyond imagination with our today’s perspective.

The use of ultra-scale computing platforms, machine learning and data mining algorithms will change our life styles, our modes of communications, and our grasp of the reality to a new, unprecedented level.