At UCL Engineering, our research is changing the world. Discover how our departments are focusing their research efforts in their disciplines and beyond
The UCL Department of Biochemical Engineering is at the forefront of bioprocess research and is the largest centre in the UK. In the 2014 REF, 75% of academic staff were rated as 'world-leading' or 'internationally excellent'.
Our interdisciplinary Advanced Centre for Biochemical Engineering (ACBE) coordinates bioprocess research and training collaborations with more than a dozen UCL departments, a similar number of external university partners and over 60 international companies. Our research aims continually to innovate towards the sustainable biomanufacturing of chemicals, materials, medicines, vaccines and therapies, by harnessing biological systems and biotechnology.
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Three major themes run through our research programmes:
- Industrial biotechnology
- Macromolecular bioprocessing
- Cell and gene therapy bioprocessing
Over 75% of our research projects are collaborative with industry and all address strategically significant issues, frequently on a truly global scale. This close working relationship with industry provides unparalleled opportunities for our research teams to tackle long-term problems with leaders in the sector and is a hallmark of the UCL approach.
UCL Biochemical Engineering aims to retain its position as internationally leading in Biochemical Engineering, Bioprocessing and Biological Engineering Research, for addressing key biomanufacturing challenges. These challenges are emerging from novel advanced therapies, that include stratified protein therapies, cell therapies, and vaccines. They are also emerging from the increased need for sustainable chemicals, materials and food manufacture via a global bioeconomy.
- To consolidate our position as number one UK Biochemical Engineering Department in the next REF.
- To establish ourselves among the top Biochemical Engineering / Biological Engineering Departments in the world.
- To support research-career development at all levels, but specifically to nurture the most talented early career researchers and under-represented groups.
- To raise department profile through publications in the highest venues, leadership of large grants, editorial roles in the top journals and conferences, representation on key committees and advisory boards.
- To enhance internal communication among research groups through departmental seminars and research meetings focused on key societal challenges or emerging topics of interest.
- To increase the synergy between Biochemical Engineering and a diverse set of other UCL departments, UCLH and other institutions.
- To maximize the impact of Biochemical Engineering research via industry collaborations, IP generation, licensing, spin-out of companies, and public engagement activities.
- Recruitment of excellent researchers, including Lecturers, Professors and Research Fellows, as well as technical staff who answer the Department’s strategic needs.
- Utilising our Industrial Advisory Board to invigorate the departmental activities via a stronger synergism between research, education and outreach to all stakeholders.
The Department of Chemical Engineering is routinely recognised among the top chemical engineering departments in Europe and was ranked 24th globally in the 2021 QS World University Subject Rankings. Research is a major departmental activity with 90% of staff rated as world leading or of internationally excellent quality in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF2014). At the heart of chemical engineering are chemical transformations, by which raw materials are converted to products such as fuels, commodity and specialty chemicals, pharmaceuticals, advanced materials and consumer products.
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Our current awareness of the world’s finite material and energy resources demands that these products are obtained in a sustainable, efficient and environmentally acceptable fashion and that new energy solutions are implemented. Within this exciting and demanding context, the Department of Chemical Engineering develops innovative and impactful technological solutions that leverage advances in basic science. We address Global Grand Challenges in the domains of:
- Advanced Manufacturing;
- Energy, Water, CO2, Environment and Sustainability;
- Functional Materials;
Our work is based on responsible innovation and is underpinned by digitisation and data-driven engineering; our unique problem-solving skills and systems thinking; and our ability to link first-principles theory, computation and experimentation with state-of-the-art characterisation across all relevant length scales from molecules to products, devices and processes. The context of our research is guided by the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the UK Industrial Strategy, and our work fits within UCL’s Grand Challenges, in particular on Transformative Technology, as well as Global Health and Sustainable Cities.
We seek to consolidate our position among the top-3 chemical engineering departments in the UK and Top 20 in the world. We strive for excellence across the board, via seamless integration of research, teaching and knowledge transfer. We aspire to be the first choice for the most talented applicants, and sought after as a preferred partner for research and industrial collaborations. We want to maintain our position as a global leader, because of our creative, scientific scholarship, interdisciplinary approach to research and problem solving and engineering effectiveness.
- Championing new technologies to create the next generation of battery and fuel cell vehicles and hybrid systems, via the cross-faculty Electrochemical Innovation Laboratory and underpinned by the 700 m2 Advanced Propulsion Laboratory at UCL East.
- Developing technologies for the production of clean hydrogen as a next generation fuel along with carbon capture storage and utilisation, empowering the net-zero carbon UK government agenda.
- Developing manufacturing technologies for chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and functional materials for a carbon-constrained future, taking advantage of the 1500 m2 interdisciplinary Manufacturing Futures Laboratory at UCL East.
- Establishing UCL as the UK focus for nature-inspired engineering to develop innovative solutions for grand challenges within energy, water, materials, health and living space, building on the unique methodology developed at the Centre for Nature-Inspired Engineering.
- Influencing the digital revolution through our involvement in the Sargent Centre of Process Systems Engineering.
- Increasing our visibility via timely publications in leading peer-reviewed journals, monographs, IP disclosures, training of postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers, and integration of research in education at undergraduate and postgraduate level.
- Securing funding from national and international sources to progress our ambitious research goals.
- Consolidating existing and building new (UCL/UK/international) academic and industrial strategic partnerships that allow us to address new challenges more effectively and open up opportunities for funding for research and education, knowledge transfer and impact activities.
- Facilitating relations with industry, developing high-impact partnerships and engaging our students in industrially relevant projects, supported by our Industrial Advisory Board.
- Accelerating impact, innovation and enterprise by transfer of knowledge to stakeholders via industrial collaboration and public engagement activities, and by establishing start-ups.
- Building strong, interdisciplinary, outward-looking research groups capable of bidding successfully in themes of high strategic importance, notably those of significance in energy, manufacturing, environment, health and sustainability.
- Recruiting of excellent researchers, as well as academic and technical staff to meet the requirements of the Department’s strategic needs and goals.
- Expanding our research infrastructure, particularly through our involvement with the UCL East laboratories.
- Engaging with strategic research activities and initiatives where we have key strengths: electrochemical engineering, integrated catalysis and reaction engineering, process and product engineering, multiphase systems, molecular thermodynamics, and functional materials.
Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering
The 21st century presents us with a complex world of continuous change. Turbulence in our environment, economic and societal structures challenge our ingenuity as engineers. CEGE is famous for its innovative problem-based learning approach to education and its interdisciplinary research breadth and reach with constant reference to the human needs which drive the requirement for engineering solutions.
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Resilient Nation where we quantify the risks of natural disasters for people, the built environment and its infrastructure. We develop innovative probabilistic and statistical tools for performance-based structural design and for managing risk caused by extreme loads on buildings and infrastructure networks. Working with HR Wallingford we measure and model the impacts on people and losses caused by earthquake, tsunami and coastal wave action.
Productive Nation where our materials, environmental and geotechnical research is developing new advanced materials such as environmentally safe cement from industrial waste and specialized low carbon concrete for the high speed rail industry. Our partnering with Airbus where CEGE optical metrology, robotic and big data handling capabilities form an essential part of the new £40M Advanced Wing Integration Centre preserving UK jobs.
Healthy Nation where our research contributes to promoting and protecting people’s health and wellbeing. Understanding how best to provide clean water and sanitation is delivered through global engagement projects with activities in India and South America. Our Healthy Infrastructure Research Laboratory is unique in civil engineering bringing together the specialists necessary to reduce disease transmission in the built environment, whilst our UKCRIC funded Pamela laboratory takes a practical global lead in furthering the design of our cities and transport systems to improve mobility for all.
Connected Nation where our unique expertise in applied finance and risk provides the UK treasury and the World Bank with strategic tools and advice. Our strength in multi-dimensional spatial and temporal big data was essential to TFL’s Olympic transport solution and is now being used to detect spatial patterns in criminal activity for predictive policing. With government and industry we enhance the future value of Building Information Models for critical infrastructure through deep learning founded on ensuring the quality of dense country scale data sets captured with state of the art geospatial technologies.
We are proud to celebrate our 190th birthday in 2017. In 1827 the founders of University College London appointed a professor of engineering, John Millington, to teach civil engineering, the first such appointment in England. Over 180 years later, we remain at the cutting edge with a rich interdisciplinary portfolio of research that is engineering a better world.
In CEGE at UCL we share the vision that no single engineering discipline has all the answers to current and future challenges. This is why the Research at CEGE integrates and focusses extensive industry experience, knowledge, skills and talents, and above all, passion to positively push the boundaries of the research envelope and produce unique contributions for a better world. The research carried out within the CEGE reflects a broad multidisciplinary view of the engineering world, from environmental soil observation using satellites, to the design of adaptive structures for natural hazards, constantly referencing human needs and sustainable growth as driving forces towards engineering innovative solutions.
- To promote and establish our pioneering approach in civil engineering, which is the synthesis of several disciplines, and which ultimately responds to the needs of our pluralistic society.
- To foster excellence in research, in which we are global leaders, by creating platforms of international collaboration among scholars.
- To focus on building and empowering the next generation of civil engineering technologies and innovations.
- To stimulate continuous interchange and co-creation between public and private sectors and civil society.
- To encourage high impact applications and implementation of our research in order to make the world more sustainable, safer and equitable.
- To actively support our research community (from PhD students to academic staff) in order to encourage their talents and intellectual curiosity.
- To launch an outward-looking campaign to further raise our profile and engage with society.
UCL Computer Science is a world-leading centre for research, impact and innovation. We are one of the UK’s major centres for Computer Science research, and internationally one of the leaders in the field. As of 2021, the department has 103 academic staff (51 professors), 96 research staff, and 220 PhD students. Our research is motivated by an ambitious intellectual and practice-oriented mission and underpinned by external funding from a variety of sources. We collaborate on projects and initiatives with a wide range of bio-medical, banking, technology and governmental organisations in a range of countries and cities and have a breadth of interdisciplinary activity.
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We have world-leading expertise in:
- Computer Systems: internet architecture, privacy and security, ubiquitous computing;
- Artificial Intelligence : Mathematical foundations of deep learning, novel network architectures and training paradigms;
- Data Science: machine learning, financial computing, information retrieval;
- Human Computer Interaction: affective computing, future interfaces, multi-sensor devices, education technology;
- Image Science: computer graphics, machine vision, and medical imaging;
- Robotics: embedded systems, internet of things, tele-operation.
- Software Engineering: fault finding, system design, logic & verification, programming languages;
- Super-computing: cluster, GPU, quantum and biological computing, modelling complex systems.
We have a strategic vision of our distinct role in the development of the international research agenda in experimental CS that informs all our activities. We are a key partner for many other departments across UCL, offering the ability and willingness to create new syntheses of ideas, to push the boundaries of existing intellectual endeavour and to collaboratively create interdisciplinary and, ultimately, transdisciplinary centres of excellence. This is reflected in our leadership of a wide-ranging set of UCL centres from which we and others benefit. Their diversity of focus, vision, tools and perspective enables us to overcome artificial disciplinary boundaries in seeking to address problems of global significance.
- To consolidate our position as number one computer science department in the UK.
- To establish ourselves among the top computer science departments in the world.
- To support research-career development at all levels, but specifically to nurture the most talented early career researchers and under-represented groups.
- To raise department profile through: publications in the highest venues, leadership of large grants, editorial roles in the top journals and conferences, representation on key committees and advisory boards.
- To enhance internal communication among research groups through departmental seminars and research meetings focused on key societal challenges or emerging topics of interest.
- To push the boundaries of CS application through links with a diverse set of other UCL departments and other institutions.
- To promote flexibility in our working approach allowing opportunistic capitalization on new challenges and collaborations.
- To fully exploit new space facilities at UCL East and to build towards a dedicated new building in central London.
Electronic and Electrical Engineering
The Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering (EEE) has a strategic research focus on Information. Research topics include: information sensing (from nerve impulses to radar); information processing (from specialised analogue and digital signal processing to quantum information processing and neuromorphic systems); information transmission (coding, advanced wireless systems, optical communications, and networks); and information output (from nerve amplifiers to advanced display modelling).
Our research areas comprise the following five Research Groups:
- Communications and Information Systems;
- Electronic Materials and Devices;
- Optical Networks;
- Sensors, Systems and Circuits.
Since 2014, long-term support for our research included an RCUK Basic Technology Programme and four EPSRC Programme Grants, with a total value of £18M.
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Vision and Priorities
We aspire to become the best Electronic and Electrical Engineering department in Europe, and one that is routinely recognized as among the top 5 departments in the world. We strive for excellence across the board, via seamless integration of research, teaching and knowledge transfer. We want to further grow our outstanding stature and become a global leader, because of our innovative minds, scientific scholarship and engineering effectiveness. Examples of our key priorities are listed below.
- A major contributor to our research is the newly established UCL Institute of Communications and Connected Systems. Our strategic themes include: (i) Wireless communications –exploring development and exploitation of: spectrally efficient, multi-functional waveforms; beyond-5G system design; hardware-informed signal processing; and data-driven network design. (ii) Future Internet Structures - investigating network topology and control, and increase efficiency and resilience by implementing functions autonomically and creating a formal framework of descriptions of what networks must achieve. (iii) Engineering of Information Processing – focusing on: information theoretic foundations of data science, artificial intelligence and machine learning; merging intelligent sensing and processing; and cross-sector and industry-vertical challenges in visual and image processing.
- In Electronic Materials & Devices our materials research includes inorganic semiconductors, oxides, two-dimensional layered materials, diamond, and metallic systems with spin-orbit interaction, in novel devices. Research is supported by prestigious Programme Grants and ERC grants, and multiple global academic and industrial collaborations. We have established several start-up companies since 2017. We aspire to build on our outstanding achievements, for example, in quantum technologies, and modelling / fabrication of nanostructures, to innovate new devices for a range of applications including supercomputing, biomedicine and the environment.
- In Optical Networks our future strategy is encapsulated in a £6.1M EPSRC Programme Grant, “Transforming networks - building an intelligent optical infrastructure”, which began in 2018. Its goal is to transform the design of the optical networks that form the global digital communications infrastructure, and introduce ML-enabled intelligence into all levels of dynamic, nonlinear optical communications network infrastructure.
- In Photonics our future strategy involves developing new integration platforms based on III-V semiconductor structures, on native substrates and on silicon, and new applications. We will also focus on THz and photonic wireless links, investigating uses for: (i) bridging between processors in data centres; (ii) in-building delivery of ultra-high-speed wireless services; and iii) intra-satellite RF - THz signal distribution and processing and high data-rate inter-satellite links. Dark fibre research will incorporate wavelength routed switches and bridges into Layer 2 networks. In collaboration with the Institute of Communications and Connected Systems we will focus on information transmission and processing across nanometric to megametric scales, with emphasis on plasmonic devices, classical and quantum meta-materials, interconnects, and wireless systems. Meta-materials research will involve: (i) expanding the emerging field of topological photonics in the area of non-linear optics, enabling active photonic nanodevices with new functionalities; and (ii) smart software development for photonic systems design, incorporating ML. Finally, we will explore applications such as 3D LIDAR, where we have patented 3D object recognition and modelling (exploited by spin-out Correvate Ltd).
- In Sensors, Systems and Circuits our future strategy includes: (i) Antennas – we will develop new generations of radar systems, including those inspired by dolphins, capable of discrimination between linear and nonlinear scatterers. We will explore wideband antennas and reconfigurability to design antennas for different applications, including long range, low power IoT, smart home/city and wearables. (ii) Radar – our aim is to be world leading in multistatic radar sensing and geophysical imaging using RF sensors. We will research multistatic clutter and target phenomenology via collaboration with industry (Leonardo MW, BAE Systems and Thales) and build on successes in passive through-wall radar imaging and extend geophysical imaging. (iii) Bioelectronics – we will collaborate with clinical colleagues on biomedical technologies incorporating advanced microelectronics design for vital signs monitoring, drug delivery, cancer detection etc. Goals include bioelectronic medicines for heart transplantation, and wearable technologies incorporating printed electronics for neonatal monitoring. (iv) Control - work will focus on development of verifiable control and monitoring systems to ensure safe operation of uncertain autonomous systems. We will continue as key partners in the UCL Robotics Institute at Here East. We will apply our extensive expertise in robust control and monitoring for large scale distributed systems to achieve efficiency, reliability and both cyber and physical security for an increasingly connected world.
The Department of Mechanical Engineering consists of some 42 FTE research active academics, 40 researchers mainly at the postdoctoral level, and 140 PhD students across four major research areas: The ‘Biomechanical Research Division; ‘Materials, Structures and Manufacturing Research Division’; the ‘Energy & Environment Research Division’, and the ‘Marine Research Division’. We have research income in excess of £12M per annum. We continue to expand our research with new activities at UCL East Campus.
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Our work extends from basic science such as new materials development and disease assessment models for dementia all the way to applied and translational research, such as the design of replacement heart valves, the modelling of wave interactions in extreme offshore environments, the design of trimaran ships, low carbon vehicles, autonomy and robotics, and the optimization of combustion properties of new fuels for advanced engines. Our research is recognised as pioneering across the world and we are proud of our global reputation for excellence in our output, including our response to the Global Covid-19 Pandemic (see the UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering's UCL Ventura CPAP Machine YouTube video for further information).
Our future goals for research will be in four core areas of the discipline namely ‘Bio-Engineering’, ‘Materials, Structures and Manufacturing’, ‘Energy and Environment’ and ‘Marine’. Our vision is to play a major part in resolving global challenges including helping the world to achieve sustainability, developing alternative sources of energy, designing new vehicles, and their propulsion systems for a low carbon world, and developing new materials and processes, for healthcare and beyond. We will strive to maintain our position as a world leading department for basic and applied research into mechanical engineering and to achieve this we will continue to work closely with Research Councils, Governmental Organisations and Industry across the world.
The mission statement of our Department, “To generate new knowledge and to communicate and translate this knowledge to our students and to society” places the generation of new knowledge through research at the very front of out pursuits. At the same time, the translation of the fruits of our research for the benefit of society is equally one of the three pillars of our mission statement. To achieve this, we have identified a series of priorities:
- The Department of Mechanical Engineering will foster an environment in which research activities are valued and embedded in a positive and supportive atmosphere, to enhance our research reputation and the career development of our staff.
- We are committed to the enhancement of the research-education nexus, to research-inspired and research-led teaching. We will strive to further the direct connection of our pedagogy with our research.
- We will align our research with international, national, RCUK, UCL and Faculty strategies while fully supporting curiosity-driven research.
- We intend to nurture early-career researchers and academics so they are able to undertake research at fundamental and applied levels and be in a position to make world leading contributions through competitive fellowship awards.
- We will strive to encourage greater interdisciplinary research within UCL, the UK University sector and across the world.
- We will provide our research groups with the resources they need to ensure growth and success, including laboratories and equipment that are fit for purpose.
- We will pursue to increase the amount of grant income obtained particularly through large scale, collaborative grants and the development of Doctoral Training Centres.
- We shall strive to expand and strengthen our industrial collaborations, with the aim that 50% of our research income comes from sponsored industrial research.
- We will continue to invest and develop our infrastructure: laboratories, workshops and office space for our researchers need to be taken to a level that is commensurate with a world-leading research organisation.
- We will strive to ensure that our research environment is free from biases, bullying and harassment; and we will ensure equality, diversity and inclusion in line with UCL’s policies.
- Human Capital: Our researchers (academics, postdoctoral fellows, PhD students) are the cornerstone of our research, inventing, developing and leading. Empowering, incentivising and rewarding are the three pillars along which we will strive to further strengthen our researchers’ competitive edge, necessary to lead internationally. We have a strong starting point with respect to Human Capital, and we plan to further strengthen the impact of our researchers with targeted support, strategic recruitment, and critical mass in important areas.
- Infrastructure: Operating in fit-for-purpose facilities and with state-of-the-art equipment is essential. Our efforts on this front will concentrate on UCL East, on a complete rethinking of our presence in central London and on enhancing our presence in (and output from) high profile research facilities like the Diamond Light Source, the Crick Institute or the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility.
- Networking: Interdisciplinarity and the participation in national and international networks are deeply engrained in our modus operandi. Our efforts will focus on leadership roles in such networks – fully deserved given the thought leadership of our academics, and on translating participation in such networks into enhanced resource (financial or other). Our starting point down this trajectory is strong, and further strategic thinking and investment will be needed to enhance our position.
Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering
We are a research-intensive department. The majority of our research sits within UCL’s Institute of Healthcare Engineering and covers the entire research pathway from basic science through proof of principle to translation to healthcare and industry. Exemplars of our priority research areas include interventional & surgical sciences, phase contrast x-ray imaging, photoacoustic imaging, and proton therapy. We prioritise the development of early career researchers as evidenced by our outstanding success at attracting externally funded 5-year Fellowships.
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Our goal is to lead in the basic science, translation and commercialisation of new approaches aimed at improving healthcare both in the UK and abroad. Our strategy for growth is focused on development of new areas of research which complement the department’s current strengths and resources while offering potential for significant societal and clinical impact.
- To reward Equality, Diversity & Inclusion citizenship, increase representation of minority groups, and promote an inclusive and equitable environment
- To nurture world-leading interdisciplinary research at the intersection between physical sciences and medicine.
- To provide the necessary research resources for our growing research groups.
- To promote cohesion and collaboration between the Department and broader research community of scientists, engineers, and clinicians within UCL, UCLH, the UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering and elsewhere.
- To increase the amount of grant income obtained from large scale, collaborative grants.
- To foster a positive and supportive environment for career development at all levels.
- To maximise the impact that our research has on human wellbeing.
- To impact clinical practice, leading to improved survival and quality of life in, for example, cancer patients.
- To align our research with international, national, RCUK, UCL and Faculty strategies.
School of Management
The UCL School of Management conducts theoretical, empirical and experimental analyses of managerial, organisational, and operational dynamics in innovation-intensive organisations. The School has 78 faculty members (42 academic staff, 36 education-focussed staff), 6 research fellows and 24 MRes/PhD students.
In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), the latest assessment of the quality of research performed by UK universities, 55% of the research outputs of the UCL School of Management were rated as world-leading (4*), placing us in joint first place among UK business schools.
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The mission of the UCL School of Management is to become one of the world’s leading business schools focused on innovation, technology, analytics, and entrepreneurship, by
- Delivering world-leading disruptive research and impact for the complex, interconnected world of the future. The School offers an unrivalled combination of research support, academic and non-academic partnerships and a location in a leading global city to research-focused academics who want the freedom and support to devise and undertake innovative, high-impact work, published in world-leading journals.
- Helping organisations succeed and change the world. The School creates impactful and applied research to help entrepreneurs, high-growth and multinational businesses, and policy makers succeed in a deeply complex, interconnected and data-driven world.
The School’s research is based in five research groups, each with a particular research focus:
- Finance, Accounting, & Economics: corporate finance, financial intermediation, banking regulation, and fintech;
- Organizations & Innovation: creativity, social networks, biases in selection, performance;
- Strategy & Entrepreneurship: innovation diffusion, adaptability, product innovation, trust;
- Operations & Technology: R&D management, supply chain economics, healthcare operations;
- Marketing & Analytics: branding, retailing, advertising, marketing channels, e-commerce.
In addition, the UCL School of Management takes full advantage of being part of a world-leading university through its interdisciplinary outlook, and builds on close collaborations in both research and education with other UCL departments, including computer science, engineering, economics, psychology, public policy, statistics and medical sciences.
Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy
The Department of STEaPP is a centre of fundamental and applied research expertise, working at the intersection of science, technology, engineering and public policy to change the world for the better.
STEaPP strives to generate, mobilise and integrate different types of knowledge to enhance the capacity of public decision‐makers to address complex societal issues.
STEaPP researchers have an explicit mandate to bring together national and international networks of academic, policy, civil society and industry partners to co-develop and deliver impactful and evidence-informed solutions to global challenges.
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STEaPP aims to maintain a balance between research that directly applies expertise to understanding and addressing pressing societal challenges, and research that explores and develops the theories and practices through which science, technology & engineering knowledge can be effectively mobilised. STEaPP’s core themes of research are embodied by several established and emerging research clusters, which align with themes across our education programmes such as the STEaPP Master’s of Public Administration.
STEaPP’s current research clusters are:
- 21st Century Policy and Decision Making
- Digital Technologies Policy Lab
- Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development
- Urban Innovation and Infrastructure
Across these clusters, STEaPP addresses science policy issues from two different perspectives:
- ‘Science for policy’ focuses on the practices of science advice and science diplomacy. STEaPP research charts the dynamics of knowledge systems and the politics of science diplomacy at national, international and local scales of governance.
- ‘Policy for science’ considers the types of policy which can best facilitate effective research and innovation, and the use of evidence relevant to policy challenges. STEaPP research focuses on science funding and governance and the political economy of innovation systems.
STEaPP is home to the Policy Impact Unit (PIU): a team of policy intermediaries who are experienced and skilled in policy engagement. The team was established to increase the use of the world-class research produced by UCL Engineering researchers in the policymaking process. The team provides the knowledge, skills and capacity to deliver high-quality policy engagement activities and collaborates with researchers across the Faculty of Engineering to improve both the quality and quantity of policy engagement.
Locating the team within STEaPP provides the ability for staff to both draw from and contribute towards research and teaching activities, creating a virtuous circle of learning and practice at the cutting edge of thinking about research evidence and policy.
Security and Crime Science
The Department of Security and Crime Science (SCS) is devoted to reducing crime and other risks to personal and national security. It does so by producing cutting-edge research and translating this into practice and policy through active engagement with research end-users. The term ‘crime science’ was coined to describe the empirically-based approach taken and the location of the Department within the Faculty of Engineering Sciences reinforces the problem-oriented underpinnings of crime science and facilitates the goal of integrating the social, physical and engineering sciences in the quest for community safety.
The Department has six research priority research areas (crime analysis, crime reduction policy and practice, emerging technology, forensic science, policing practice, and terrorism, serious and organised crime), which shapes its mission, and is home to five research Institutes and Centres. These coordinate research activities and help to deliver large scale projects, facilitating collaboration across UCL, with other universities, and with stakeholders and end-users.
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Institutes and Centres
Established in 2001 with £1.2M from a public appeal, the JDI remains the umbrella structure under which the other SCS centres sit. With a broader remit than the specialist centres, it hosts projects that have a general crime and terrorism reduction focus, including the What Works Centre for Crime Reduction project.
The Centre for Forensic Sciences (CFS)
Established in 2010 with a grant from the Provost’s Strategic Fund, the centre aims to create real-world impact in the forensic sciences. It has been successful in securing over £1m in cash and equipment from industry partners and through a crowd-sourcing appeal. A new JDI Forensic Science Lab will be completed in 2021.
The Dawes Centre for Future Crime (DCFC)
Established in 2016 with a £3.7M grant from the Dawes Trust, the Centre focuses on finding pre-emptive solutions to emerging crime problems associated with technological and social changes. It does so by funding PhD scholarships and research projects across UCL and other universities.
The Institute for Global City Policing (IGCP)
Established in 2017, the Institute is a collaboration with the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) and the London Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) who together provided £500K funding to establish the institute. Both the MOPAC and MPS have ongoing involvement in the activities of the Institute and money from the grant is used to fund seed projects and support post-doctoral researchers.
The JDI Latin America and Caribbean Unit (JDI LAC)
The JDI Latin America and Caribbean Unit supports improvements in the understanding of crime and the professional development of policing in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region. The aim of JDI LAC is to contribute to improving citizen security and the prevention of crime in LAC countries, and support the education of current and future generations of police and public security professionals.
Key elements of our strategy include:
- Maintaining a critical mass of interdisciplinary researchers with a problem-oriented focus to make our activities sustainable and enable us to tackle new problems.
- Increasing our expertise in the field of cybercrime and its prevention, financial crime, digital forensics, and data science.
- Continuing to develop our research performance, as indicated by grant income and high-quality research outputs.
- Maintaining our momentum in training PhD students to become the next generation of interdisciplinary researchers dedicated to finding effective ways of reducing crime.
- Developing our supporting infrastructure, including the capacity to access and analyse sensitive datasets.
- Continuing to work closely with stakeholders, and increase our reach across them, to realise real-world impact.
- Continuing to forward scan current trends and policies for high level change that might need research attention. For example, changes such as those emerging from transformative technology, the pandemic, Brexit, the potential collapse of globalisation and climate change have huge implications for safety and security.
- Furthering our impact-focused work in international contexts.
The JDI Research Laboratory – which facilitates access to rich crime and other data that would normally be unavailable to university researchers – provides infrastructure to support this agenda, while the EPSRC funded Centre for Doctoral Training in Cybersecurity launched in 2019 – which is a collaboration between the departments of SCS, Computer Science, STEaPP – provides an example of how SCS works with other UCL departments to achieve these aims.
The Department has been going through a period of managed growth and our strategy has been, and is, to recruit additional talented staff who can take forward our ambitious interdisciplinary research and impact agenda. We will also further develop a physical and social environment that not only supports our research ambitions, but enhances well-being, equality and diversity (including implementing our 2021 Athena Swann action plans), and positive learning experiences for staff and students. We will strengthen links between research excellence and real-world impact, refining our approaches to the co-creation of research agendas with stakeholders, and championing the translation of research for policy partners.