The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis


Szymon Walkowiak

Szymon Walkowiak

Thesis Title: Diagnosing Dementia through Large-Scale Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence

Primary Supervisor: Professor Ed Manley

Secondary Supervisor/s: Professor Hugo Spiers (UCL Institute of Behavioural Neuroscience) and Dr Ricardo Silva (UCL Department of Statistical Science)

Funding: The Alan Turing Institute Doctoral Scholarship

Start date: September 2019

Projected completion date: September 2023

Early stages of dementia often manifest themselves with a degradation of cognitive functions including impairments of working memory and spatial navigation abilities. Szymon’s interdisciplinary doctoral research project combines knowledge and methods from the areas of neuroscience, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, and aims to develop a standardised diagnostic tool in order to detect deficits of wayfinding abilities as compared with normal navigation performance of healthy individuals. As the navigation and wayfinding efficiency is dependent on numerous factors such as demographics, individual differences, personality traits and exposure to technology, Szymon will use rich data collected through the Sea Hero Quest virtual game – a well-known, international collaborative project between UCL, Deutsche Telekom and Alzheimer’s Research. The data will be analysed and modelled with a selection of large-scale machine learning and artificial intelligence approaches to develop and test a prototype for a smart, user-friendly, non-invasive and highly-accessible diagnostic tool for dementia.

Research interests:

Szymon’s research interests focus around applied Artificial Intelligence in complex, dynamic environments which often involve multi-dimensional Big Data e.g. geo-spatial, spatio-temporal and streaming, real-time data, and also linkage of complex datasets from a variety of sources. He is particularly interested in development, optimisation and practical implementations of novel Artificial Intelligence algorithms in the fields of public health and medical sciences.


Szymon holds a Bachelor of Science degree (First Class) in Psychology with Neuroscience from the University of Westminster in London and a Master of Science degree (Distinction) in Big Data Science obtained at Queen Mary University London. Before joining The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Szymon worked as a Data Curator at the UK Data Service (UK Data Archive, University of Essex) and a Big Data and AI consultant in the fields of Big Data, Machine Learning and AI project management, statistical computing training in R/Python/Java/Scala, and large-scale data curation workflows. His clients include a range of medium and large private and public organisations in finance/banking, government and research industries, e.g. National Health Service, HSBC, GSM Association, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, Credit Suisse, Deloitte, Home Office, GE Capital, Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, ING, Itad, REWE Group and many others.

Szymon's PhD project, funded by The Alan Turing Institute, is supervised by Dr Ed Manley (The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis), Prof. Hugo Spiers (UCL Institute of Behavioural Neuroscience) and Dr Ricardo Silva (UCL Department of Statistical Science), and it aims to investigate novel machine learning and scalable (Big Data) AI approaches to diagnose and explain early dementia symptoms related to spatial cognition.

MSc, Big Data Science
BSc, Psychology with Neuroscience


Walkowiak, S. (2016). Big Data Analytics with R. Packt Publishing

Walkowiak, S., Foulsham, T., & Eardley, A. (2015). Individual differences and personality correlates of navigational performance in the virtual route learning task. Computers in Human Behavior, 45, 402-410.

Twitter: @SimonWalkowiak