UCL Astrophysics Group


UCL-Jordan DIS collaboration

The UCL-Jordan Data Intensive Science collaboration extends the successful activities of UCL’s CDT in DIS to help train the next generation of Jordanian data scientists.

The UCL-Jordan Data Intensive Science collaboration is supported by a grant of £300k from the Newton-Khalidi Fund (Newton Fund for capacity building in data intensive science in the Middle-East), and is awarded to a team led by Professor Ofer Lahav, Professor Jonathan Tennyson and others from the Department of Physics and Astronomy and MSSL.

About the UCL-Jordan DIS Collaboration

The Big Data revolution is everywhere. The Artificial Intelligence approach to data analysis and mining would contribute not only to the Physical Sciences in the Middle East, but also to transportation, the oil industry, health and many other areas. Data science is therefore a key developmental goal for the host countries. The proposed programme will enable a regional capacity building in Jordan (and later Egypt and Turkey) in Artificial Intelligence (AI) through analysing Big Data in Astronomy and Particle Physics. The programme will be modelled on UCL's successful STFC Centre for Doctoral Training in Data Intensive Science (DIS) which included extensive collaboration with hi-tech industry partners. The aim is to extend our UCL CDT-DIS model for collaboration and networking with interested groups in the Middle East, building in research secondments for academics in both the UK and the partner countries.

The programme will provide a world-leading training experience, co-created and co-delivered by industry, which will result in highly trained and well-rounded AI-experts, with a truly unique skill-set, who will become future AI-leaders in Jordan in both academia and industry, helping address the significant national skills-shortage in this area and driving forward the economy. We will build and existing industrial partners in the UK and extend it to similar companies in Jordan.

As well as numerous economical, educational and cultural benefits from the fundamental research undertaken in
the programme, for instance cutting-edge technology development (such as the World Wide Web, superconductivity and
medical imaging techniques), many of the research projects will have a direct impact.

Launch Event - 24 April 2020

A launch event for the UCL-Jordan Data Intensive Science (DIS) collaborative programme was held on 24 April 2020. Professor Ofer Lahav, Vice-Dean (International) for MAPS, hosted the event over Zoom. Presenters included Pro-Vice-Provost (International) Deenan Pillay and Pro-Vice-Provost (Africa and Middle East) Ijeoma Uchegbu.

The launch event brought together Jordanian partners from the Royal Scientific Society and the University of Jordan, UCL senior leadership, representatives from the Science and Technology Facilities Council and the British Embassy in Amman, CDT students and other interested parties.

Given the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the programme has begun online teaching using video recordings of Dr Jason McEwen's lecture course on Machine Learning. 45 Jordanian students (62 percent of whom are female) are already engaging with the course.

Professor Lahav said: “For me, this project with Jordan is a ‘real life’ experience of how to continue external engagement in the Covid-19 situation.”

A photo taken at the Jordan launch event