I recently finished a 10-week research visit at Stanford, working under Prof. Jure Leskovec. Here’s a short summary of my visit, and you’ll soon be able to read more about the research I did there. You can also check out my facebook photo album.
After settling in on campus in the graduate residences, I went around to look at everything Stanford has to offer. Its architecture is unifying and gives it a very distinguished look, Some of its most beautiful buildings are the Huang Engineering Quad, the Oval, the church, and the main Quad.
One of our main excursions was the visit to San Francisco. Me, Vid, Jose, and Klemen Kotar gathered at Uber headquarters for a workshop, after which we toured all around the city, walking along the famous Market St with its abundance of skyscrapers, the financial district, as well as going all around the coast on Embarcadero St, passing by the seals, from where we could see the infamous Alcatraz, and even get a glimpse of the Golden Gate bridge from afar, shrouded in the characteristic San Franciscan fog that envelops the tall buildings even midday. We also visited Lombard St, the “crookedest” street in SF, as well as the chocolate factory Ghirardelli, where we got some free chocolate!
The week after, me and Vid went with France and Mia Rode to a picnic to the Twin Pines Park in Belmont, where many 1st, 2nd or 3rd generation Slovenians gathered for an afternoon of pleasant company and good food. We met many people with Slovenian heritage, from an artist from SF, to a computer programmer for IBM, Oracle and more! After meeting France and Mia, we had dinner at their house the following Thursday, where we met Zvonko Fazarinc, a pillar of the Slovenian community along with France and Mia, and they told us all about their long and incredibly eventful history in the Silicon Valley.
After 5 weeks at Stanford, we finally around to go on the official campus walking tour, where a very knowledgeable alumni told us all about Stanford and its history, and we even found out that Gates, the building where we worked at, was the birthplace of Google; the first Google servers were located just a few floors beneath our lab.
The latter half of our visit was even more eventful than the first five weeks. Even though I thought I had seen most of what Stanford’s campus had to offer, I discovered several new things. From the breathtaking view on top of Hoover tower, to its quaint cactus garden, to their very own museum with the second largest Rodin sculpture collection in the world, Stanford seems to have it all. As expected, I visited the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, a cornucopia of early and vintage computers going back not only to Turing and ENIAC, but as far back as the Victorian era’s Ada “the first programmer” Lovelace. Nearby was also NASA’s Ames Research Center, awaking the inner spirit of exploration in each of us.
As even more expected, me and Vid were able to visit both Facebook and Google headquarters, each trying to outdo the other with employee perks, free food, and funnily-named conference rooms (Bubblesort, Fast Fourier Transform). At Google we met with not one, not two, but three Slovenian employees, and they showed us around its campus, with its giant T-Rex statue, Android statue garden and its army of self-driving cars all around. Speaking of tech leaders, Prof. Leskovec also gave all of us fellows (me, Vid, Jože, and Matej x2) a tour of Pinterest. Not to trail too much behind the previous tech giants, they also had free food, open working spaces and, of course, a massage room.
Me and Vid also went camping in Yosemite, arguably the world’s most beautiful national park. We spent two nights under the starriest sky, and hiked to the second highest peak, Glacier point, from where we had a breathtaking view of the famous Half Dome peak towering over Yosemite valley. We visited San Francisco once more, and this time we finally went to the famous (and windy!) Golden Gate bridge and even halfway across it. Not only that, we went to the newly-reopened seven-story San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the vast experiment-themed Exploratorium, as well as the California Academy of Sciences with its sprawling underground aquariums and an unbelievable rainforest biodome that you could actually go into. Last but not least, we hiked to Twin Peaks with Jože to see the San Francisco skyline in all its glory.
I was also fortunate that a visiting group of biomedical researchers from Baylor College of Medicine were at Stanford during my visit. Their domain expertise was very useful in helping me understand how a medical researcher might write about (or allude to) a protein interaction in their paper. We were able to parse a huge dataset of 140 million sentences and extract candidate protein interactions. Luckily, we had several high-powered machines with terabytes of RAM (yes, thousands of gigabytes!) at our disposal, although some computations still took days. All in all, it’s been a most exciting 10 weeks and an invaluable research experience and I am extremely grateful to ASEF and Prof. Leskovec for providing me with the opportunity to do research at the best university on the planet.