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I am Jack Whitter-Jones, and This is How I Work

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Jack Whitter-Jones. Jack is a PhD Student and part time lecturer at the University of South Wales, where he researches Security Operations which encompasses Cyber Security, Machine Learning and Automation. During term time you can find Jack teaching secure web programming and application security, all of which revolve around the wonderful programming language PHP. While a PhD takes up a substantial amount of time, Jack is currently one of three organisers of BSides Cymru which is the first security conference in Wales. With any remaining down time he may have, he also carries out independent security research focusing on programming, machine learning, reverse engineering and general security topics, all of which can be found at his blog.

Current Job: PhD Student/Part-Time lecturer
Current Location: University of South Wales
Current mobile device: Android
Current computer: Macbook Pro

Can you briefly explain your current situation and research to us?

I am a PhD Student in the brilliant University of South Wales, where my field of research focuses on Security Operations within Cyber Security. The overall aim of my PhD is to use automation and machine learning to improve log analysis as to help reduce stress of cyber operators in their daily operations.

What tools, apps and software are essential to your workflow?
My Macbook Pro, Mendeley, Visio, Word, Emacs, a Desktop and four screens

What does your workspace setup look like?
I am provided a wonderful desk which holds all the screens that can fit under the sun. Along with two plants and a great desk lamp, that has different modes to reduce the constant white light.

What is your best advice for productive academic work?
The best advice that I have been given is by my supervisor – take breaks regularly. A week long break is better than trying to force yourself out of a slump or writers block, which is going to demotivate or set you back by four weeks.
The best advice that I have learnt is, talk to your co-workers and reach out to people within your field. Everyone wants to talk about research and all the cool things that go along with it.

How do you keep an overview of projects and tasks?
Regular meetings with my supervision team and also employ a project management style to your workload (they were made for this reason).

Besides phone and computer, do you use other technological tools in work and daily life?

Looking at your phone or computer can be tiresome when reading long pdfs and can tether you to your desk. A kindle is the perfect device to go outside and do research.

Which skill makes you stand out as an academic?
It isn’t much of a skill, more so a willingness to speak to anyone, as a PhD can be a lonely experience at times. Speaking to people in your daily life will help with motivation, happiness, building a support network and you meet lots of interesting people along the way.

What do you listen to when you work?
Metal, trance and songs from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.

What are you currently reading? How do you find time for reading?
Currently, I am reading: A Guide to Effective Studying and Learning: Practical Strategies from the Science of Learning.

What’s your sleep routine like?
I try and get as much as I can, knowing that the end of my PhD is going to be long. But I would recommend anyone that is interested in sleep to check out Matthew Walker.

What’s the best advice you ever received?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help or say you don’t know something.

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