Lecturer, Computing Science and Mathematics

School of Natural Sciences, University of Stirling


Tel: +44 (0)  1786 46 7462 sbr@cs.stir.ac.uk

I participated in the 2016 Scottish Crucible after seeing a colleague’s enthusiasm for the programme. The experience was intense but very rewarding and I highly recommend it to other early career researchers. The parts on engaging with media was particularly interesting for me and helped me reach a whole new audience: I have since been able to write a few articles, one of which was picked up by Scientific American, reaching over 30k readers.

My research is in optimisation and machine learning, and I have conventionally worked in application areas very close to computing and engineering. Crucible certainly opened me up to working with disciplines quite unlike my own. Following the programme, I was privileged to lead a team comprising an artist, a psychologist and a neuroscientist looking at using optimisation methods to better understand how groups of people associate sounds with particular places and their moods. The project has produced some fascinating results and we are currently exploring where to go next. It really wouldn’t have happened without Crucible.

I’ve also been bolder in reaching out to other disciplines. In early 2016, I led a team spanning Computing, Maths, Environmental Science, Arts and Social Science in a “Dragon’s Den” event at Stirling. Our team were awarded £220k to explore ways of analysing social networks, geographies and big data technologies to promote equality, inclusion and fairness. As well as rewarding research, these experiences have also been crucial in my career development, in particular they were highlighted by the panel in my recent appointment as a Lecturer. I’m now excited for the next steps with my new network!