ESRC and ADR UK funded Research Fellows to work in No.10 Downing Street

Two Fellows, Dr. Robin Lovelace and Dr. Federico Botta, will spend a year collaborating with 10 Downing Street’s data science team (10DS) and the Office for National Statistics (ONS). They will co-design research and produce analysis using new and existing linked administrative datasets to inform policy.

The Fellows will also champion data science across central government and help strengthen important engagement between government and academia in the UK. Their work will use cutting edge methods to help inform decision making on the most pressing policy problems of our time and support wider knowledge exchange with researchers on effective policy collaboration and data analysis. The fellows will work closely with 10DS and ONS’ Data Science Campus to formulate research projects before starting their secondment on 1 January 2022.

Alex Jones, Head of Evidence and Transformation (10DS) at 10 Downing Street, said: “The UK’s universities are home to world-class data science skills and talent. We are seeing ever increasing demand for this expertise in government, and I’m delighted that through this scheme, No.10, as well as the ONS and other departments will be able to benefit from the specialist expertise of Federico and Robin.”

Introducing the Fellows

Robin Lovelace is an Associate Professor of Transport Data Science at the University of Leeds' Institute of Transport Studies. He researches, develops, and teaches free, open and scalable techniques for working with data to support evidence-based policies. Robin has written many papers and books on transport planning, energy, geographic data analysis and modelling. His interests include geo-computation, transport modelling and geographic data analysis. Robin is a fellow of the Alan Turing Institute, the UK’s national institute for data science and artificial intelligence.

Federico Botta is a Lecturer in data science at the University of Exeter where he studies human behaviour at the individual and collective levels using novel data streams, such as those derived from the internet and our use of digital technologies. He uses tools from data science, network theory and behavioural and computational social sciences to analyse large datasets and investigate different aspects of human behaviour and urban environments. As well as serving as an academic editor for the academic journal PLOS ONE, he acts as a reviewer for several international journals. Federico is also a fellow of the Alan Turing Institute.

An opportunity with enormous potential

Dr Emma Gordon, Director of ADR UK, said: “This is a unique opportunity for these Fellows to use new and existing linked administrative and survey datasets, including those made available by the ADR UK programme, to deliver research that informs priority policy areas. Over the course of their fellowships their insights will inform pressing issues of our time such as the net zero climate target, our recovery from Covid-19 or the levelling up agenda.”

Dr Arthur Turrell, Deputy Director at ONS’ Data Science Campus, said: “I am extremely excited about the creation of these prestigious data science fellowships, and that No. 10 and ONS—plus the many departments we work with—will be benefitting from Robin and Federico’s extensive expertise. The potential for data science to deliver for the public good is enormous and these fellowships provide another channel for methods from the frontier of that field to address the most pressing issues in public policy.”

Dr James Canton, ESRC’s Deputy Director for Public Policy and Engagement, said: “These fellowships are an exciting opportunity to use data science to address some of the most pressing public policy challenges we face as a country. They are also an important new initiative to support ESRC’s ambition to build lasting and impactful collaborations between social science researchers and those making and supporting policy decisions. Effective use of data analysis is a key area for this, so we are delighted to be able to work with ADR UK to facilitate this exciting opportunity. Robin and Federico are the first of a new wave of fellows we are supporting to enable researchers to spend time working in policy environments across the UK and we look forward to working with them, 10DS, ONS and ADR UK over the coming year.”

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