Three Informatics academics elected as RSE fellows

[22/03/2023] Professors Alex Lascarides and Ross Anderson and Dr Fiona McNeill from the School of Informatics are joining the Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, it has been announced on 21st March 2023.

Royal Society of Edinburgh logo

The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) the Scotland National Academy has announced its 2023 intake of Fellows, with over 90 names from the arts, business, public service and civil society as well as academia from Scotland and beyond. They will be joining the RSE’s current Fellowship of around 1,800 Fellows, who are recognised as being some of the greatest thinkers, researchers and practitioners working in or with Scotland. 

The School of Informatics is delighted that three of our colleagues have been honoured by fellowship to the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotland’s National Academy, this year.  Ross Anderson, Alex Lascarides and Fiona McNeill are recognised for contributions including ground-breaking research, government policy formation and curriculum development, representing some of the breadth of impact created within the School.  Many congratulations to all of them.

Professor Jane Hillston, Head of School of Informatics
Photograph of Professor Alex Lascaride

Professor Alex Lascarides

Professor Alex Lascarides' research is in theoretical and computational linguistics and AI.  Her research aims to model the semantics and pragmatics of communicative actions in conversation, mainly focussing on text and speech but also analysing non-verbal actions such as hand gestures.

Alex has developed logical and computational models of how humans communicate with each other, and machine learning frameworks that enable software agents and robots to engage in, and learn from, verbal and non-verbal interactions with humans. She has also developed models of conversation where the participants' goals diverge (e.g., courtroom cross examination, negotiations over restricted resources and political debate), as well as cases where they align (e.g., tourist information, scheduling). A common underlying theme to all this work is to exploit models of discourse coherence to constrain the inferential processes that underlie generating and interpreting language and gesture. 

Alex has an ongoing interest in developing machine learning methods for learning optimal strategies, particularly for complex games such as Settlers of Catan, or for decision problems where the agent starts out unaware of possible states and/or actions that are critical to task success.

I'm delighted and honoured to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.  I look forward to working with them to inspire the next generation of scientists.

Professor Alex Lascarides
Photograph of Professor Ross Anderson

Professor Ross Anderson

Professor Ross Anderson’s mission is to develop the discipline of security engineering, which investigates how systems can be made robust in the face of malice, error and mischance. He has made pioneering contributions to many subdisciplines, including peer-to-peer-networks, hardware tamper resistance and cryptographic protocols. Ross was a designer of the block cipher Serpent, and he has worked on many applications with diverse protection requirements such as payment networks, power-line communications, goods vehicle tachographs and clinical information systems. 

In addition, Ross helped to found the field of information security economics. Many complex systems fail not for technical reasons, but because of misaligned incentives. Consequently, game theory and microeconomic analysis are nowadays just as important to the security engineer as the mathematics of cryptology. 

Ross is the author of the standard text Security Engineering: A Guide to Building Dependable Distributed Systems (2008) and regularly contributes to a blog on security research, Light Blue Touchpaper. He has also chairs the Foundation for Information Policy Research. 

He is currently working between University of Cambridge where he is Professor of Security Engineering, and School of Informatics, the University of Edinburgh where he’s a Chair in Security Engineering.

Photograph of Dr Fiona McNeill

Dr Fiona McNeill

Dr Fiona McNeill is a Reader of Computing Education. Her research interest is in STEM education particularly in access to education and how certain groups - especially women and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds - can be excluded and marginalised in STEM and CS. 

She has been involved in developing national policy, for example through the BCS Scottish Computing Education Committee, which she currently co-chairs, the RSE's Learned Society Group and the BCS Academy.  

She has spent a lot of her career working in data integration and matching and in Semantic Web technology. She’s interested in how heterogenous data from multiple sources can be dynamically discovered, integrated and interpreted, especially in Crisis Management situations. She’s involved in the ISCRAM community and in the Scottish Linked Data Community, and co-chairs the Heriot-Watt/UoE Semantic Web Lab (SWeL). She’s also interested in multi-lingual and multi-domain matching and in developing lexical resources, and have been doing work around Gaelic WordNets. 

Related links

Link to RSE fellows announcement

Link to Alex Lascarides’ personal page

Link to Ross Anderson’s personal page

Link to Fiona McNeill’s personal page