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Complexity, crowd science, nature-inspired optimisation.

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Personal profile


I'm a Professor of Computer Science and Co-Lead of the University Urban Futures Interdisciplinary Research Theme (IDRT). My current research interests focus on crowds, safety engineering, and the dynamics of collective behaviour.

I studied Computer Science at Coventry University, before moving across town and gaining my Ph.D. in DNA Computing from the University of Warwick. I then held a Leverhulme Special Research (now Early Career) Fellowship at the University of Liverpool, before obtaining my first permanent academic post (a joint lectureship in bioinformatics, between Computer Science and Biology). In 2002 I moved to the University of Exeter, to take up a lectureship in bioinformatics. I moved to Manchester Metropolitan University in the summer of 2006; I started at MMU as a Senior Lecturer, was promoted to Reader in 2010, and then to Professor in 2012. In 2018, I returned to my North-Eastern roots, and took up my position at Northumbria.

In February 2023 I completed a 15-month stint as Acting Head of the Department of Computer and Information Sciences.

I have experience of managing large, inter-disciplinary and international projects (grant income as PI > £3M; funders include EPSRC, AHRC, the European Commission, the Leverhulme Trust, and the Wellcome Trust), and I previously led the Centre for Advanced Computational Science at MMU.

I'm a Fellow of the British Computer Society, and a member of the EPSRC Peer Review College and the UKRI Interdisciplinary Assessment College.

I am committed to public engagement with science; I'm the author of Genesis Machines: The New Science of Biocomputing, have written an entry in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and have validated a Guinness World Record. Our work is featured in the permanent exhibition of the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry. I was the scientific consultant for Danger Decoded, a National Geographic TV show that appeared in 170 countries. I have made a number of media appearances, in print, on radio, and on TV, and I am an active contributor to the work of the Speakers for Schools charity.

Research interests

Crowd simulation and modelling, safety engineering, nature-inspired computation, synthetic biology, molecular computing, complexity theory.

Education/Academic qualification

Computer Science, PhD, DNA Computing, University of Warwick


Award Date: 3 Sept 1997

Computer Science, BSc (Hons), Computer Science (including a period of industrial training), Coventry University


Award Date: 1 Sept 1993


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