The Contribution of Doctoral Skills within the Digital Economy: How CDT students help us thrive

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The contribution of doctoral skills within the digital economy:

How CDT students help us thrive in a digital world A Digital Economy Network case study publication

Produced by the Digital Economy Network Revised: Spring 2019 @DECDTNetwork



3 Introduction

Welcome to the revised second edition of ‘The contribution of doctoral skills within the digital economy: How CDT students help us thrive in a digital world’, which was first produced in July 2016, in collaboration with the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Digital Economy Theme, which is by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

4 Centres for Doctoral Training 5 Digital Economy Network 6 DEN member CDTs 7 DEN events 8 CDT student diversity and backgrounds 9 CDT alumni career destinations 10 International employment destinations 11 Case studies 15 The future of Centres for Doctoral Training

Acknowledgements Produced by the Digital Economy Network which is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) on behalf of the UK Research and Innovation Digital Economy Theme, and supported by EPSRC grant reference EP/L011891/1. Extended significant thanks to Tish Brown of Lancaster University for collecting, writing and editing all of the case studies from the DEN CDTs for inclusion within this booklet, as well as for the DEN website. Thank you to the CDT Students and alumni for providing case study details and for agreeing to be featured in this booklet, and for the DEN CDT Managers/Administrators for helping source the case studies. Authors: Design: Date:


Felicia Black – University of Nottingham and Tish Brown – Lancaster University Creative Triangle March 2019

This updated version for spring 2019 has been produced to continue to showcase a diverse range of successful CDT student and alumni case studies from across the EPSRC Digital Economy Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) who are part of the Digital Economy Network (DEN). Graduates from these CDTs have been able to progress to a variety of career destinations across the globe, including into academia, industry, entrepreneurial start-ups, the public sector and charitable organisations. This has enabled alumni to continue to positively contribute to and deliver positive research impact, both for the UK and beyond. Since CDTs were first launched in 2009, these EPSRC Centres have proven to be successful in attracting the world’s brightest minds and industry support as a mechanism to address scientific and engineering challenges. In February 2019, UKRI announced a further 75 CDTs to continue to develop the skills and expertise required for UK prosperity. As well as CDT alumni, this brochure also features case studies of current doctoral students, and provides examples of how they are carrying out multidisciplinary research within the digital economy in collaboration with industry partners, and the impact that is beginning to emerge from this work. The Digital Economy Network is a five-year network training grant supported by the EPSRC, which will draw to a close in September 2019. Therefore this publication also highlights the high-value training and development activities that DEN has delivered since its inception in April 2014 for the benefit of Digital Economy CDT students in UK universities. Whilst Network activities have focused on the critical mass of students who are based within CDTs, other Digital Economy PhD students have also been encouraged to engage with and have participated in DEN events. I hope you enjoy reading the case studies and finding out more about the personal journeys of these CDT graduates, as well as the Network achievements.

Professor Sarah Sharples Digital Economy Network Director University of Nottingham


Centres for Doctoral Training

Digital Economy Network

Centres for Doctoral Training are one of the three main ways by which the EPSRC provides support for Doctoral Training in the UK. The other routes are through Doctoral Training Partnerships and Industrial CASE Studentships.

DEN is a UKRI-funded national collective of 11 EPSRC-supported Centres for Doctoral Training, which was launched in April 2014 to provide added-value training and development activities for doctoral students carrying out research within the Digital Economy. Whilst DEN activities have focused on the critical mass of students who are based within CDTs, other PhD research students studying in the digital economy research field in UK universities have also been able to engage with and benefit from the Network’s events.

These multidisciplinary research Centres attract and bring together diverse areas of expertise to train engineers and scientists with the skills, knowledge and confidence to tackle today's evolving issues, and future challenges. They also provide a supportive and exciting environment for students, create new working cultures, build relationships between teams in universities and forge lasting links with industry. CDT Students are funded for four years and benefit from technical and transferrable skills training, as well as a research element. Students at EPSRC-funded Centres carry out a PhDlevel research project together with taught coursework in a supportive and exciting environment. The Digital Economy Centres cover research relating to connecting people with digital technology to radically improve the way we live, work, play and travel. You can find out more at

As of February 2019, the Research Council states that 43% of EPSRC supported students go on to be employed in business/public services, and 36% move on to be employed in academia. In January 2018, the EPSRC announced it was seeking to invest a further £492 million to support between 90-120 Centres for Doctoral Training with the remit to train the research leaders of the future and equip them with the knowledge, expertise, skills and creative approaches that the UK needs.

DEN has been funded since 1 April 2014 over a five-year period to provide training and development activities for students who are studying within the Digital Economy. Whilst we focus our activities on the critical mass of students who are based within CDTs, it is not compulsory for students to be based within CDTs to engage in DEN events. DEN five themes The aim of the Network has been to deliver events and activities around five key themes and objectives:  Theme 1: To provide a forum for sharing best practice in CDT delivery and develop a repository of expertise in this area  Theme 2: To enhance the student experience by providing practical and financial support for large scale national shared events for Digital Economy research students  Theme 3: To increase the sustainable impact of postgraduate research in the digital economy by delivering high impact events and specialist entrepreneurial training  Theme 4: To develop specialist skills through collaborative events  Theme 5: To support public engagement and outreach activities from individuals and groups of students.

DEN team The DEN Management Board has had representation from CDT Directors who have been involved in leading a CDT since their launch in 2009. The members are as follows:  Professor Sarah Sharples, University of Nottingham (Director and Principal Investigator)  Professor Gordon Blair, Lancaster University (Co-Investigator)  Professor Les Carr, University of Southampton (Co-Investigator)  Felicia Black, University of Nottingham (DEN Manager) Web-based and social media activities will ensure that the record of activities and best practice will persist beyond the lifetime of the network, and the community of researchers is expected to exist as an active community working and researching in the Digital Economy for many years to come. To assist in the delivery of the five key themes, the Network developed a part-time DEN Social Media Specialist/ Advocate role, which has been held by the following individuals who are all previous or current Digital Economy PhD students.  Jennifer Agwunobi, PhD Student, Loughborough University London (July 2018 to present)  Chira Tochia, iPhD Student, University of Southampton (2017 – 2018)  Dr Chris Carter, University of Nottingham (2015 – 2016)



DEN member CDTs

DEN events

The following 11 Centres for Doctoral Training that are supported by the EPSRC-led Digital Economy Theme are members of the Digital Economy Network:

Since April 2014, DEN has delivered and supported over 60 training and development activities for digital economy doctoral research students and early career researchers, and these events and initiatives are listed below. You can find out more about these activities on the DEN website at

 Centre for Digital Entertainment University of Bath and Bournemouth University

 HighWire Lancaster University

Over 350 PhD/EngD students have benefitted from attending DEN events and there has been over 1100 PhD/EngD student interactions with Network activities (including those experiencing repeat interactions).

 Cloud Computing for Big Data Newcastle University

 Horizon Centre for Doctoral Training University of Nottingham

 Digital Civics Newcastle University

 Embedded Intelligence Loughborough University and Heriot Watt University (ICT Theme)

 Financial Computing and Analytics University College London

Theme 1: Sharing best practice (24 events/initiatives)

 Intelligent Games and Game Intelligence (IGGI) University of York, Goldsmiths University of London, University of Essex and Queen Mary University of London

 Media and Arts Technology Queen Mary University of London

 Healthcare Innovation University of Oxford

 Web Science Innovation University of Southampton

The appointment of a Social Media Advocate has enabled the Network at @DECDTNetwork to achieve a current Twitter following at of almost 1000, which has extended the reach of DEN activities to a wider national and international audience.

 Five Digital Economy Network Annual Meetings 2015-2019 held in February each year  Five DEN CDT Directors Meetings 2015-2018  10 DEN CDT Managers and Administrators Meetings 2015-2019  Three Digital Economy Diversity Network Meetings 2017-2019  Appointment of a Digital Economy Network Social Media Specialist/Advocate 2015-2019

Theme 3: Sustainable impact of research (4 events)  DEN One-Day CDT Student and Alumni Careers Symposium, February 2018  Digital Economy Two-Day Entrepreneurship Workshop and Competition, September 2017  FutureEverything Digital Research Impact Lab, January 2016  Digital YES 2015: Say YES to Digital Innovation and Mentoring, December 2015 Theme 4: New collaborative initiatives (8 Events)  CHInclusive One-Day Workshop at ACM CHI, May 2019  Entertainment and Authenticity in the Digital Museum (DiMEA), October 2017  Exploring Common Values, Diving Deeply into the Digital Frontier, October 2016  Double Dabble: A Feminist Day of Making, February 2017  Interdisciplinary Games and Human Values (at CHI PLAY), October 2015  Leading Together in the Digital Economy: Celebrating Women in Transdisciplinary Careers, July 2015  Second Screen and Live TV Football Workshop, December 2014  Digital Economy Researchers DIY Makers Colloquium, April 2014 Theme 5: Community outreach and research dissemination (5 events)

Theme 2: Large-scale shared national events (20 events)

 Work Ethics in the Age of Automation: Panel Discussion at INTER/SECTIONS 2017, September 2017

 Six Digital Economy Summer Schools 20142019, delivered in July each year

 DEN CDTs Marketing Stand at HackNotts National Competition, November 2016

 10 PhD Student Writing Retreats 20162019 at various locations

 FutureEverything Digital Research Impact Lab, January 2016

 DEN 21-Day Coding Challenge (via Social Media), August 2018

 Digital Shoreditch – Hackathon Panel Discussion Session, May 2015

 DEN 21-Day Writing Challenge (via Social Media), January 2019

 Digital Economy Research Showcase at RichMix, October 2014

 Data Publics International Conference, March 2017  Futures of the End of Life: Mobilities of Loss and Commemoration in the Digital Economy, January 2016



CDT student diversity and backgrounds Due to their multidisciplinary nature, the Digital Economy CDTs have been successful in attracting high calibre of applicants from a variety of disciplines including computer science, business, management, law, politics, geography, arts, music, psychology, languages, mathematics, design, health, and engineering amongst others. Centres have been successful in attracting diverse cohorts of student in terms of gender, age, ethnicity, disability, background and status. Some PhD students have started their PhD immediately after completing undergraduate or Masters level degrees, where as some have started their PhDs later after gaining valuable employment and life experiences, and combine PhD study with other commitments such as raising children, caring responsibilities and part-time work. Students from the UK, EU and international destinations have been recruited, as Centres have been able to leverage additional University or industry funding to attract students from outside of the EU. Some Centres have offered part-time PhD study to ensure inclusivity and access for the highly talented and academically qualified students the CDTs are able to attract. CDT Industry partnerships and collaborations CDTs benefit from industry support and collaborate with industry partners on research in a variety of mutually beneficial ways. Partnerships allow industry partners access to exceptional talent, University research facilities and an opportunity to help shape the future and uncover new business opportunities. Industry support Invaluable support from industry to CDTs has been provided in a variety of ways including studentships, sponsorship, access to data, mentoring, masterclasses, providing guest lectures, in-kind support, co-designed training activities and by offering internships for PhD students. Industry partners are also members of CDT Advisory Boards to help steer the strategic direction of the Centre. CDT internships PhD Students based within a CDT benefit from an internship placement with an industry partner or relevant collaborative organisation, which is of mutual benefit to both the student and providing organisation. Internship durations are usually for at least a two month period, and have been taken in international locations across the world in academia, industry, public sector, creative agencies and consultancies. Students bring their expert knowledge to the organisation and provides an opportunity to increase the impact of their research. EngD placements The EngD Students within the Centre for Digital Entertainment at the University of Bath and Bournemouth receive the benefits of being embedded within their industry organisation for the majority of their programme, usually for three years.


Quotes from industry partners Industry partners who are collaborating with DEN CDTs have acknowledged the benefits of these research partnerships and some of the industry partner quotes are provided below: Quotes from industry partners who have collaborated with CDTs/CDT students to go here e.g.

At Ordnance Survey both our present and future “is focused on digital geographic information.

We were very impressed with the pedigree and interdisciplinarity of the Web Science group at Southampton, and are fortunate to have a Centre with a strong international reputation on our doorstep. Our collaboration is very much twofold; we gain as much from the relationship as the CDT does thanks to our interactive approach in terms of supervision, work placement projects and knowledge transfer

Jeremy Morley, Chief Geospatial Scientist, Ordnance Survey

The students from the Centre for Digital “Entertainment are constantly challenging you

to keep up with them, and you get to share their experiences as they investigate areas you would never have had time to research on your own

Andrew Vidler, Technical Director, Ninja Theory

The CDT in Cloud Computing for Big Data has “helped us understand the relevant skills we need

in order to obtain value from our data, as well as providing actionable insight for us to prioritise. We're investing in the Centre and hope this is the start of a long and fruitful relationship

Richie Ramsden, Section Leader Functional Surfaces – Data Insight Team, AkzoNobel 9

CDT alumni career destinations Successful Digital Economy CDT graduates have been able to take advantage of a wide range of career paths both nationally and globally. Sector destinations include: Employing organisations Some examples of employers of EPSRC-supported Digital Economy CDT graduates include:

 Academia  Industry/Private sector  Government/Public sector

 Airbus

 Entrepreneurial and business start-ups


 Expert freelancing

 Bloomberg

 Creative agencies

 Cabinet Office

 Consultancy

 Chirp

 Charitable organisations

 Double Negative

The CDT student and alumni case studies featured later within this booklet provide a wide range of examples as to where graduates have progressed to after completing their PhD. The infographic below shows some of the job titles CDT graduates hold after completing their PhD or EngD within an EPSRC supported Digital Economy centre.




Research Fellow

Postdoctoral Researcher

Junior Researcher


User Experience Researcher

Data Analyst

Senior Researcher

Head of Marketing


Designer Creative Director

Chancellor’s Fellow


Tactical Cyber Investigation Specialist

Assistant Professor

Senior Data Scientist

Advisor Senior Policy Advisor Head of Research Developer

Mentor Head of Global Strategies

Senior Policy Advisor

Web Developer

Financial Trader

Senior Human Factors Engineer

 Elsevier  Estee Lauder  Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (The Netherlands)   Innovate UK  Jaguar Land Rover  Other World Escapes  Microsoft Research  National and Local Governments  Ninja Theory  RSA: Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce  Sony  UK and international universities  United Nations.

Head of Insights

Software Developer Escape Room Designer Geospatial Innovator Human Factors Expert Web Scientist

R&D Engineer



Cabinet Creator Member Solutions Architect


International employment destinations

Case study: Delvin Varghese Name: Delvin Varghese CDT: Digital Civics – Newcastle University Year of Entry: 2015 Nationality: British Research area: Exploring the role of Participatory Media in supporting the inclusion of community voice within International Development processes

Digital Economy Network CDT graduates have gone on to secure employment in a variety of sectors in the following countries, amongst others:  Australia

 Denmark

 Singapore

 Austria

 India

 Spain

 Canada

 Malaysia

 The Netherlands

 China

 Romania

 United Kingdom

 Cyprus

 Saudi Arabia

 United States of America

Prior to the PhD, Delvin completed a BSc and MSc in Computer Science at the University of Wales in Bangor. Delvin chose the Digital Civics CDT programme due to its interdisciplinary focus. Having come from a technical background, he was keen to explore how technologies could be used within International Development contexts and this programme offered him the space to do just that. Delvin’s research focuses on how audio and visual digital media can be used to support the inclusion of the community voice within the organisational processes of humanitarian organisations. He has collaborated internationally with Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in India, Indonesia, Namibia and Egypt to explore a variety of resource-constrained settings in developing community engagement processes built with the ethos of participatory media.



The Netherlands




Saudi Arabia

China Malaysia


Name: Dr Antonella Mazzoni CDT: Media and Arts Technology – Queen Mary University of London Cohort year: 2010 Nationality: Italian Status: Alumni Thesis title: ‘Mood Glove’ – Enhancing mood in film music through haptic sensations for an enriched film experience Current role: User Experience Researcher – Chirp, London Before joining the Media and Arts Technology (MAT) CDT at Queen Mary University of London, Antonella had completed a BSc in Computer Science, where she had designed and built an interactive musical tabletop for her final year project.

During her first year of the PhD programme Antonella completed a research placement with the creative studio, Seeper, where she collaborated on the creation of a multisensory environment for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at a special-needs school.

Antonella had a scientific background and had always been attracted to the arts, and was interested in stretching her engineering skills towards art practices in order to experiment and design new entertainment experiences. The MAT interdisciplinary PhD programme provided the perfect opportunity to do this.

Antonella has written a number of publications for conferences and journals. She has also exhibited her work at many national and international venues, sometimes involving holding interactive public engagement sessions and observing reactions.

Her PhD research focus was experiential design of new entertainment experiences and blended cinematic storytelling and haptic technology, and focused on enriching audiences’ cinematic experience through the design of expressive haptic sensations directed at augmenting moods in the film score. 12

Through Delvin’s research of participatory video usage in carrying out monitoring and evaluation in International Development contexts, a more sustainable and cost-effective solution for doing community engagement has been identified. This has been recognised by the Red Cross movement, who have adopted and funded this process in their field locations, and are planning to conduct future training to further promote this approach within their branches in South American and Europe.

Case study: Dr Antonella Mazzoni

Romania USA

Delvin will carry out a placement in March 2019 alongside the Red Cross movement, in order to support the roll out of a participatory video process across their branches in South America. He is very grateful for the international experiences he has received from working with NGOs in diverse contexts across the world, and has also gained an appreciation for the social and cultural navigation skills involved in doing cross-cultural research.

She is now a successful Researcher at a London-based technology start-up company, having gained the skills to conduct rigorous research and in a cross-disciplinary way from the MAT programme. The outcomes of her PhD have proven that there is both a strong interest and a requirement for conducting cross-disciplinary research, especially within emerging technologies. 13

Case study: Tatiana Styliari Name: Tatiana Styliari CDT: My Life in Data (Horizon) – University of Nottingham Year of Entry: 2014 Nationality: Greek Research area: Human-Computer Interaction: Digital identity at the movies: Personalising the cinema-going experience Industry Partners: Digital Catapult Centre and Broadway Cinema and Media Centre Prior to starting her PhD at the Horizon Centre for Doctoral Training at the University of Nottingham in October 2014, Tatiana completed a Masters degree in European Communication at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, and completed an undergraduate degree in International and European Studies at the University of Piraeus in Greece. Tatiana wanted to continue on to a PhD after the MSc, and applied to the Horizon CDT as it closely matched her multidisciplinary research interests. Her PhD research explored the gradual digital transformation of cinemas in terms of personal data management and how usage of existing data transactions can enhance the experience with technology interventions. As a CDT student she has participated in national and international summer schools, presented her research at top international conferences, and has benefited from multi-disciplinary academic supervision and crossdisciplinary collaborations in the fields of Computer Science, Film Studies and Human Factors.

Tatiana will submit her thesis in spring 2019, and has already been successful in securing employment as a User Researcher for a digital transformation consultancy in London that serves the UK public sector. Her role within this organisation will allow her to have an impact on aligning UK public services around citizens and to safeguard them for future generations. Of her PhD experience, Tatiana states:

"This PhD has given me the chance to participate in activities to make my CV extremely competitive in the job market, and has allowed me to easily find my ideal job, and having the luxury of deciding where I want to work."

Tatiana completed a three-month internship at the Digital Catapult Centre in London in 2016. Her placement project focused on researching transparency in data sharing practices, and developing the case of a data consent receipt for the Catapult’s users. The outcomes of Tatiana’s internship placement directly led to the Catapult adapting the project as a longer-term internal exploratory project.

extremely valuable that Tatiana was able to carry out research “andIt was exploratory work on the idea of personal data receipts, which originated from the Catapult’s Personal Data and Trust Network ” Marko Balabanovic, CTO, Digital Catapult


Case study: Dr Alex Gouvatsos Name: Dr Alex Gouvatsos CDT: Centre for Digital Entertainment – Bournemouth University Nationality: Greek Cohort year: 2012 Status: Alumni Thesis title: 3D Storyboarding for Modern Animation Industry Partner: Hibbert Ralph Animation Current role: R&D Software Engineer – Double Negative

Alex joined the Centre for Digital Entertainment programme at Bournemouth University in 2012, immediately after completing a BSc Artificial Intelligence & Software Engineering degree. He applied to the EngD programme, as it involved being placed within industry, and he was passionate about pursuing a career in the digital entertainment sector. His three year EngD placement was with Hibbert Ralph Animation and Picasso Pictures in London, and involved focusing on ways to modernise and improve the pre-production stages of animation pipelines, by building solutions around the idea of 3D storyboarding. Projects included Kinect posing systems, extracting data from screenplays, and using computer vision to infer 3D poses from 2D drawings. During his EngD programme, Alex travelled to leading conferences like SIGGRAPH and presented his first poster at the Pacific Graphics Conference, where he won the best poster award. Alex’s advice to new doctoral students would be to begin the academic writing process and submit to journals and conferences early on, as the sooner your work is shared, the sooner you will start getting valuable feedback from the R&D community.

The greatest challenge for Alex was managing motivation and stress levels towards the end of the programme, in terms getting his thesis written up. This was due to wanting to maximise his time at his placement company, whilst he had the opportunity. In hindsight, he realised that through the guidance of his academic supervisor, research documents submitted to the University, and journal submissions, he actually had a significant amount of his thesis content written already! Alex has now passed his Viva and is a Research and Development Software Engineer for Double Negative, a large visual effects studio in London. He believes that completing his doctorate helped access areas of the job market that would have otherwise proved inaccessible, and on a personal level, had provided him with the conviction to see a long term process through to completion, as well as the initiative and confidence to lead his own projects, come up with novel ideas and see them through to development. The primary impact of Alex’s work is that it has helped raise the profile of pre-visualisation, particularly for TV series development, as the new products that have been developed in this industry can be attributed to work that Alex carried out with his industry partner.

Alex’s involvement in improving our 3D animation pipelines “helped us secure an external Technology Strategy Board grant Jenny Hibbert, Director, Hibbert Ralph Animation


Case study: Richard Ramchurn Name: Richard Ramchurn CDT: My Life in Data (Horizon) – University of Nottingham Year of Entry: 2015 Nationality: British Research area: Brain Controlled Film Industry Partners: B3 Media, Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (FACT) Liverpool, Live Cinema UK

Richard lives in Nottingham with his wife and two young children, and prior to starting his PhD, was working as the Creative Director at creative arts agency AlbinoMosquito, which specialises in theatre and creative technology projects. In 2014, he had also completed B3 Media’s Talentlab Programme; a unique creative talent development network aimed at the UK's emerging and established BAME Artists. He decided to apply to the Horizon CDT as it offered an opportunity to further develop and study the brain controlled films that he had been working on since 2013. The strong links with the Mixed Reality Lab at the University and their history made this an attractive programme. Richard’s research focuses in Brain Controlled Film, and specifically he is looking at the creation processes of both making and interaction with adaptive brain controlled movies. In 2017, Richard spent three months away from the PhD to go into production of The MOMENT, his second brain controlled movie, which was classed as an internship project. This involved the final stages of post-production, a six-day shoot and initial editing of the movie.

His PhD experience has been an action-packed journey so far. In 2017, he spent a month in New York developing a brain controlled installation, and has been invited to present his work at international research conferences in San Jose, Padua, and Montreal. In 2018, he toured The MOMENT, and collected interaction data from 14 festivals, including The Geneva International Film Festival in Switzerland, The Reykjavík International Film Festival in Iceland and ARS Electronica in Austria. In 2019, the film will be presented at a British Council event in Hong Kong, at The Brain Film Festival in Barcelona and the Riverside Film Festival in Italy. Richard feels that the PhD has given his work new depth, which he wouldn’t have achieved without the programme, and he has received invaluable theoretical support from the Horizon CDT supervisor network. By working with the University’s Press Office he has been able to secure international press coverage for his research, which has been covered on local, national, and international TV, radio and online media. Over 1000 people have already watched and interacted with The MOMENT at various digital arts film festivals and public engagement events in the UK and Europe.

The PhD has given my work new depth and invaluable theoretical “support. By working with the University’s Press Office, I have been able to secure international news coverage for my research ”

Case study: Antonia Kontaratou Name: Antonia Kontaratou CDT: Cloud Computing for Big Data – Newcastle University Cohort year: 2015 Nationality: Greek Status: Current CDT student PhD title: Scalable Bayesian Hierarchical Modelling with application in genomics Antonia is in the third year of her PhD at the Cloud Computing for Big Data CDT at Newcastle University. Prior to joining the Cloud Computing CDT in 2015, Antonia gained a BSc in Applied Informatics and an MSc in Information Systems from the University of Macedonia in Greece. After completing her studies, she continued working in industry and taught computer science modules in a private educational institute. Antonia applied to the Cloud Computing CDT programme in order to gain expertise in the latest technological innovations within Computer Science, and in particular Cloud Computing. The CDT focuses on interdisciplinary research that draws together data collection, management, analysis and interpretation of large and complex datasets, and develops novel ways to extract knowledge from big data via computing resources. These areas were where Antonia’s research and career interests lay.

In 2018, Antonia undertook a PhD internship with AkzoNobel, working on global shipping and energy consumption datasets. She found that working on a real industry problem and realising how your work can significantly contribute to an organisation’s decisionmaking process was a valuable experience. During her placement, she was able to identify potential problems and test solutions based on the knowledge and skills acquired whilst doing her PhD.

Case study: Dr Jack Webster Name: Dr Jack Webster CDT: Web Science – University of Southampton Cohort year: 2014 Nationality: British Status: Alumni Research focus: Taste in the Digital Age: Music Streaming Services and the Performance of Class Distinction Current role: Insight Analyst at IFPI Jack completed a Bachelors degree in Music at the University of Southampton before joining the Web Science CDT. He applied to the Web Science PhD programme as it offered an opportunity to develop new computer science based skills and combine these with his musical interests. His PhD research explored if and how music-streaming services are disrupting the social dynamics of music consumption. Jack completed an internship placement for Universal Music as a Data Analyst for six months.


Antonia’s research involves the development of new methods for fitting Bayesian Hierarchical models that can scale more effectively and have a wider range of applications. She uses functional programming, specifically Scala, due to its immutability and easier parallelism. Method efficiency will be tested on budding yeast genome data, which has been provided by the Institute for Cell and Molecular Bio-Sciences at Newcastle University. Antonia hopes that her research will contribute to the scientific understanding and highlighting of interactions between genes related to telomere capping and to problem modelling.

The highlight of Jack’s PhD was having the opportunity to work closely with his three multidisciplinary academic supervisors, who had a profound impact on him as a researcher. Having a PhD qualification has provided Jack with academic credibility as a researcher and has expanded his professional networks. Jack’s PhD research has helped academics, companies, and governments to better understand how society and culture is being transformed by the major rise of platform-based businesses such as Netflix and Spotify. He is now working as an Insight Analyst within in the recorded music industry.


Case study: Dr Claire Dean Name: Dr Claire Dean CDT: HighWire – Lancaster University Year of Entry: 2014 Nationality: British Status: Alumni Thesis title: Making Wonder Tales: An exploration of material writing practice for ecological storymaking Current role: Lecturer in Creative Writing, Edge Hill University

Prior to joining the HighWire doctoral training centre, Claire had extensive experience as a freelance writer, Project Manager and Workshop Facilitator. Claire decided to embark on a PhD with HighWire as she wanted to investigate the process of writing from an interdisciplinary perspective, without the constraints of traditional disciplinary boundaries. The HighWire PhD programme provided Claire with the space to explore new possibilities that digital technologies bring to writing practice. During her PhD Claire also continued to work as an Associate Lecturer in Creative Writing, as well as publishing short stories.

The HighWire programme gave Claire the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues from a variety of disciplines and to work with external organisations such as the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, National Trust and the Environment Agency. Claire had the challenge of managing her work-life balance as a single parent of two boys for the majority of her time at Lancaster University. However, she successfully completed her PhD and has progressed into an academic position as a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Edge Hill University, where she hopes she will be able to inspire future generations of highly skilled creative writers, and influence innovation in story telling.

The future of Centres for Doctoral Training On 4 February 2019, the EPSRC made an announcement that UKRI would be funding a further 75 Centres for Doctoral Training in UK universities, in order to develop the skills needed for continued UK prosperity, and to train the next generation of national research leaders and innovators. These CDTs will continue to build on the successful model and legacy of the previous EPSRC Centres funded in 2009 and 2014. UKRI has allocated £444 million, together with a further £2.2 million from The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) for this purpose. These new CDTs will open their doors to their newly recruited doctoral candidates from September 2019. Shortly after this announcement, on 21 February 2019, UKRI also released a statement that a further 16 CDTs in Artificial Intelligence were to be funded to train 1,000 PhD students to exploit the potential of AI to transform the way we work and live. This next generation of research and business leaders are to be trained across 14 universities, with the CDTs focusing on research areas ranging from healthcare and climate change to ethics and music.

Case study: Dr Joe Cutting Name: Dr Joe Cutting CDT: IGGI – University of York Cohort year: 2014 Status: Alumni Research area: Measuring the experience of playing self-paced games Current role: Associate Lecturer in Interactive Media, University of York

Before starting his PhD Joe worked as a Media Developer for the Science Museum and then spent ten years running his own business, which created games and digital media for museums and galleries. He also provided consultancy and management for large and complex projects. Joe’s PhD research explored the measurement of the experience of playing ‘self-paced’ games, which was a novel research area as most research in this field focused on fast-paced action games. There has been recent popular emergence of self-paced games such as Angry Birds and Candy Crush Saga, which hold players’ attention without the need for fast reflexes or good co-ordination. XCOM and Civilization are also games that still manage to be very compelling even though they are self-paced, where the player sets the speed of the game.


Within his PhD, Joe also looked at the features which trigger and sustain players’ engagement in self-paced games, and he used eye tracking and memory tests to develop reliable ways of measuring how well a game holds the players attention. He used these measures to investigate how adding different features to a game, changes the attention span of the user. Joe passed his PhD viva in February 2019 and is now an Associate Lecturer in Interactive Media at the University of York.

19 @DECDTNetwork

Published: Spring 2019

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