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Digital Environment Research Institute (DERI)


DERI facilitates interdisciplinary collaborations between Queen Mary’s Faculties of Science and Engineering, Humanities and Social Sciences and the School of Medicine and Dentistry along with Barts NHS Trust in the areas of digital and data science.

The Institute is currently in set-up phase and will directly support around 150 staff located within a dedicated building, as well as research teams from schools and institutes from across Queen Mary’s Faculties.

Our current research teams

The Ahnert Lab

Led by Professor Ruth Ahnert, Professor of Literary History and Digital Humanities in the School of English and Drama, the lab will seek to leverage the potential of historical archives using digital approaches. Ahnert is especially interested in expanding work on the development of historical infrastructures and communications using methods from network science. Future work will build on her recent project based at The Alan Turing Institute, Living with Machines, and seek to expand UK capacity in digital humanities through the development of historical datasets, tools, and communities of practice. 

The Barnes Lab

Led by Professor Mike Barnes, the group has broad computational biology research interests spanning the translational research and drug discovery continuum, from genetic and genomic methods for target identification to clinical informatics, patient stratification and multiple long-term conditions.

The Bessant Lab

The Bessant Lab is a multidisciplinary group dedicated to the development of machine learning, AI and data integration methods for application to complex biomedical datasets. We have a particularly strong track record of studies involving large scale proteomic mass spectrometry, which can reveal important markers of cellular dynamics on a proteome-wide level. Such markers include alternative splicing, novel gene products, protein activity and protein conformation.

While our previous work has made extensive use of machine learning, we are increasingly turning to logic-based approaches to turn heterogeneous data into intuitive biochemical models that can be used to automatically explain experimental observations and generate novel biological hypotheses. The Bessant Lab is led by Professor Conrad Bessant.

The Butler Lab

Led by Dr Keith Butler, the Materials Design and Informatics Group (MDIG) works to accelerate the development of new green energy materials. We use a combination of data-driven methods (such as deep learning and Bayesian statistics) and quantum mechanics calculations to design new materials on computers and to accelerate the experimental characterisation of materials. MDIG works closely with other academics, national facilities and companies. We have applied our techniques to discover new materials for photovoltaic power generation, solar driven water splitting and conversion of waste energy into electricity. 

The Duffy Lab

The Duffy lab, led by Dr Chris Duffy, are interested in energy relaxation in molecular systems. In other words, following some excitation by an external force, how does the system return to its original state. A practical example of this is the biological light-harvesting proteins, natural solar devices that are evolved to capture, transfer and transform light energy with ultra-efficiency. By combining quantum theory, non-linear spectroscopy and data techniques we try to understand how these processes are controlled and could possibly be replicated.

The Decision-Support Lab

The decision-support lab is led by Dr William Marsh and is a part of the Machine Intelligence and Decision Systems (MInDS) research group in EECS. We aim to develop practical techniques for decision-support with probabilistic and causal models (primarily using Bayesian networks). Much of the work is collaborative with application to medicine and in engineering. As well as developing probabilistic models for new applications, our current work includes: 

  • Techniques for efficient model building from knowledge and for group elicitation.
  • Reusable interfaces so that probabilistic predictors become usable decision-support systems.
  • Techniques for reasoning about interventions and counterfactual.
  • Algorithms for explaining predictions and presenting the evidence supporting a model.
  • Empirical evaluation of the effectiveness of decision-support systems in practice.

Game AI Research Group

The Game AI research group, led by Professor Simon Lucas, uses games as a test-bed for the application of advanced artificial intelligence (AI) methods. They study two main approaches to general game AI; deep learning, and deep statistical search using a forward planning model (including Monte Carlo Tree Search and Rolling Horizon Evolution), and use AI methods for procedural content generation in games and other creative media. The group is also associated with the EPSRC-funded IGGI Centre for Doctoral Training, a leading PhD research programme aimed at the Games and Creative Industries.

The Leslie Lab

Led by Professor David Leslie, the current research focuses on digital ethics, algorithmic accountability, explainability, and the social and ethical impacts of machine learning and data-driven innovations. In particular, he is keen to question how the biospherically and geohistorically ramifyingscope of contemporary scientific innovation (in areas ranging from AI and synthetic biology to nanotechnology and geoengineering) is putting pressure on the conventional action-orienting categories and norms by which humans, at present, regulate their behaviour.

The Slabaugh Lab

Led by Professor Greg Slabaugh, Professor of Computer Vision and AI at Queen Mary and Director of DERI, the lab focusses on computer vision and deep learning with applications to computational photography and medical image computing.

The Yuan Lab

Led by Dr Shanxin Yuan, the research focuses on computer vision and machine learning, with a strong philosophy of transferring research to significant real-world applications. They work on several lines of research, especially 3D digital humans and computational photography. The recent topics include hand/head/body pose estimation and reconstruction, neural rendering for deformable objects, pose retargeting, immersive gaming, music understanding, and fashion AI. Dr Yuan’s previous research has been successfully shipped to several products that are being used by millions of people worldwide.

Institute Director:

Professor Greg Slabaugh
Greg is Professor of Computer Vision and AI and director of the newly formed Digital Environment Research Institute (DERI) at Queen Mary. His primary research interests include computer vision and deep learning, with applications to computational photography and medical image computing. Greg is well positioned to lead DERI’s set-up phase since he has long standing leadership experience both in academia and in industry. He joined Queen Mary from Huawei where he was Chief Scientist in Computer Vision (EU).


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