Alia Lemkaddem - Project Manager - Signal Processing - CSEM

In 2015, Alia joined the Signal Processing group at the CSEM. As Project Manager, she manages projects with industrial companies as well as European consortia, in close interaction with her team.

Originally from Morocco, Alia grew up in Stockholm, Sweden. In 2007, she did a six-month Erasmus in Switzerland. After a Master's degree in electrical engineering at the EPFL, she worked for some time as a computer consultant, but she missed research. As a scientific assistant, she participated in a research project at the EPFL on medical imaging (MRI).This project is dedicated to a better understanding of the connection between different areas of the brain in epileptic patients. Encouraged by Professor Jean-Philippe Thiran, she started a thesis in this field in 2011. The aim: to build a virtual map of the brain's neural network, based on a mathematical algorithm, allowing the closest possible simulation of the real human neural network.

In 2015, she joined the Signal Processing group at the CSEM. As Project Manager, she manages projects with industrial companies as well as European consortia, in close interaction with her team.

In Switzerland, Alia particularly appreciates the atmosphere and the diversity of the landscape.

Interview with a multicultural engineer who is passionate about her work.

Could you tell us more about what is meant by "Signal Processing"?

The purpose of this discipline is to elaborate or interpret information-carrying signals. Its aim is therefore to extract as much useful information as possible about the morphology of a signal disturbed by noise (lights, movements, etc.), using the resources of electronics and computing.

The information sought is rarely visible to the naked eye and we have to resort to mathematical methods that allow us to extract the information we need.

The is varied, such as blood pressure, heart rate or simply the speed at which a person is walking.

The skills needed for signal processing are mathematics, computer programming, physics, medicine and life sciences.

What project are you working on at the moment?

We are currently working with the startup Biospectal to estimate central blood pressure using a smartphone camera. The technology is called photoplethysmography (PPG), which is found on connected watches, and allows the pulsation of the veins to be visualised. The flash acts as a light source. Once the video is compressed, we process the signal by analyzing the morphology of the pulsating signal, which is specific to each individual. From this signal, it is then possible to extract parameters related to systolic and diastolic pressure measurements.

The ease of use of this smartphone-based system allows the user to decide when he/she wants to take his/her pressure without technical assistance.

The biggest challenge in this project is to collect a sufficient amount of usable data for analysis.

What do you think of innovation in Switzerland?

Innovation in Switzerland is at the forefront of many technical subjects thanks to a high-quality and diverse education network (EPF, HES), which works closely with industrial partners, both local and international. This cutting-edge innovation makes Switzerland  particularly attractive to researchers and engineers from abroad..

In my opinion, it is very important that Switzerland remains connected to Europe in order to be able to participate in consortia. Many innovation projects are financed by European funds. Finally, sharing with neighbouring countries to find out what is going on there, to collaborate and to learn from them remains essential if we want to remain at the cutting edge.

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