UCL Mathematical & Physical Sciences


Successful bid for renewal of the STFC Centre for Doctoral Training in Data-Intensive Science

26 May 2022

UCL’s Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Data-Intensive Science (DIS) has been awarded a £1.3M grant from STFC to extend its activities for the next six years.

Conceptual illustration of Artificial Intelligence human form

The grant, awarded in a highly competitive bidding process, will allow to continue the comprehensive doctoral training in data-intensive science for additional 24 PhD students over three cohorts until 2028. Five cohorts with 53 students in total have already been trained in the first phase of the CDT (2017-2022). 

STFC Executive Director of Programmes Professor Grahame Blair said: “Big data is the linchpin of big science. This funding will bring on the next generation of data science experts, to ensure the UK research and innovation sector continues to thrive.” 

“When processing and analysing huge quantities of data, a vital step on the road to scientific discoveries, scientists gain invaluable skills which could also help with industrial and societal challenges. These exciting research projects take the expertise gained during frontier research in astronomy and particle physics, to find solutions and techniques which can also be applied in industry and society.”

Dr Alison Kenney, Director of the STFC Hartree Centre and Chair of the CDT Advisory Board, added: “This is testament to the hard work of everyone at UCL both in preparing the case for renewed funding but also in establishing such a strong and innovative CDT programme with an exceptional track record of achievement.”

The programme, which involves six-month placements with over 30 industry partners, has already had 10 CDT students who have successfully completed their PhDs and moved on to careers in academia and industry. In addition, more than 50 research articles led by the CDT PhD students have already been published.

The CDT is now part of a larger structure at UCL, the Centre for Data-Intensive Science and Industry (DISI), launched in December 2021. DISI, supported by the Provost’s Strategic Development Fund, also incorporates an MSc programme (with over 70 students per year) and various research activities.

UCL’s President and Provost Dr Michael Spence commented: “I am thrilled to hear that this unique doctoral training programme is able to continue to develop the next generation of talented postgraduate data-intensive scientists, future leaders in the field of high energy physics and astronomy.” 

Professor Ivan Parkin, Dean of the Faculty of Mathematical & Physical Sciences, added: "I am really supportive of the new DISI Centre and was pleased that I could help get UCL Provost funding for the initiative. Data-intensive science is extremely important, especially in combination with AI methods.”  

“I am proud of the team that have led the successful bid to STFC for renewal of the CDT. The students have been outstanding, so too the interactions with industry.  I look forward to the continued success of the CDT and the DISI centre." 

The CDT/DISI programme is led by co-directors Professor Nikos Konstantinidis and Professor Ofer Lahav (both from UCL Physics & Astronomy), supported by a team of academics from six departments - all leading researchers in their respective DIS fields to train diverse and outstanding cohorts of students to be future leaders in data-intensive science. 

Professor Ofer Lahav said: "This is an exciting phase of extending the CDT-DIS via the new grant from STFC. This fits in well with UCL’s new DISI Centre as an umbrella of AI activities for training MSc and PhD students to cutting edge research in astrophysics, particle physics, computer science and industry. We have already seen the great impact of cross-fertilisation among these fields.”

Professor Nikos Konstantinidis commented: "Winning the bid for the renewal of the CDT and the launch of the DISI Centre are exciting steps in cementing UCL's leading role in DIS across physical sciences. Thanks to the support from STFC, UCL and our industry partners, we will be able to offer better and more training and career opportunities to our students and deliver enhanced research outcomes in fundamental science, as well as broader economic and societal benefits."



  • Conceptual illustration of Artificial Intelligence human form. Credit: iStock.