UWE Bristol Academic Spotlight: Jim Smith, Professor in Interactive Artificial Intelligence

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Knowledge Transfer Partnership

Working with Lyons Davidson to establish an automated legal advice helpline utilising complex Artificial Intelligence that can deliver suitable solutions to a wide-range of possible enquiries.

Research Interests

Jim Smith is Professor of Interactive Artificial Intelligence and Deputy Director of the Computer Science Research Centre at UWE Bristol.

His interests include computational intelligence, machine learning, and interactions between humans and intelligent systems. The quality and impact of his research on interactive and adaptive AI is evidenced by citation metrics, (over 13000 citations to his work as at 16/8/21) through awards like 2001 ACM-SIGEVO prize for papers ‘deemed to be seminal’, membership of various IEEE Technical Committees and Task Forces, membership of the EPSRC peer review college, and editorial boards of leading academic journals in relevant fields.

In 2018 he contributed an invited chapter on the role of AI within Confidentiality and Linked Data to the National Statistician’s Quality Review. More details can be found on his website.

Business/Sector Interests and a brief description of how your academic expertise could be practically applied for a business partner

Professor Smith has led numerous successful projects concerning the hybridisation of metaheuristic approaches with machine learning, and mathematical approaches funded by the EU, EPSRC, DSTL, other governmental agencies from the UK, US and Brazil, and commercial partners.

His experience in delivering successful projects in commercial environments, includes applying AI to areas such as adaptive vision-based production quality control, interactive design optimisation, characterising Video Conference Meetings, privacy preservation in published official statistics, modelling customer behaviours, and speech recognition.

Jim has led three KTPs to successful completion (one ‘good’, one ‘outstanding’ and one under review) and a fourth is already delivering value to company, associate and UWE’s research agenda.

For more information about Professor Smith’s work please click here

For further information about Knowledge Transfer Partnerships please click here

UWE Bristol Professor in Emergency Care Jonathan Benger awarded CBE

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UWE Bristol Professor in Emergency Care Jonathan Benger has been awarded a CBE for services to the NHS.

Professor Benger, who is also a consultant at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW), and Chief Medical Officer for NHS Digital, was recognised in the Queen’s New Year Honours list.

Graduating from University of Bristol Medical School in 1990, Jonathan initially trained as a surgeon, then in anaesthesia, intensive care and paediatrics, before specialising in emergency medicine.

He has previously led several reforms of emergency care as the National Clinical Director for Urgent and Emergency Care at NHS England.  He also leads the Emergency and Critical Care Research Theme in the Centre for Health and Clinical Research at UWE Bristol.

Jonathan has a lifelong interest in research and was appointed to a Professorial Chair at UWE Bristol in 2008 and leads a team of 15 people carrying out a wide range of emergency care research, particularly around the management of critically ill and injured patients, service delivery and workforce.  

Most recently, he has been leading on digital and data provision for the health and care system, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes NHS111 online, the NHS.UK website and the NHS app, all of which have been central to the pandemic response – 16 million people now use the NHS app.

Jonathan, who has worked at UHBW as a consultant in emergency medicine since 2003, said: “It’s a proud moment for me, however it’s also an opportunity to acknowledge the many excellent teams that I have had the opportunity of working with. My academic training, and the Emergency Care Research Programme based at UWE Bristol, have been central to informing and developing my work for the NHS both locally and nationally.

“Emergency care is a ‘team discipline’; it’s only possible to push things forward and improve care by working as part of a coordinated and effective multi-disciplinary team.

“I think it’s vital to remain clinically grounded, and I work in the Trust every week. It is so important that clinicians with a national leadership role also work on the front line to ensure we are clinically credible, and close to the practical delivery of patient care and the challenges that staff face every day. I am proud to work for UHBW.”

Professor Marc Griffiths, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences, said: “Professor Benger’s appointment as CBE is testament to his hard work and collaboration shown over the last several years. Jonathan’s work within the field of Emergency Medicine and NHS Digital has ensured safer patient outcomes and his experience is invaluable across a range of our health and social care programmes and research themes. 

“I am incredibly proud of Jonathan’s achievements and is a real world example of collaboration across different disciplines and organisations.”

Applications open for Partnership PhD scheme

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UWE Bristol has recently announced another application round of its successful Partnership PhD programme.

A Partnership PhD bridges the gap between external organisations and university. It enables an organisation to gain access to cutting-edge real-world research that can help transform it.

The Partnership establishes a relationship between an organisation and UWE Bristol, based on a specific project that is mutually beneficial.

Organisations have the opportunity to choose a relevant research area and gain access to cutting-edge research. The researcher will work extensively with the organisation to provide a tailored piece of research.

In turn, the researcher will gain an opportunity to pursue their research in a real-world setting, developing transferable and interdisciplinary skills whilst gaining cross-sector experience.

Over the past two years, the Graduate School, part of the Research, Business and Innovation team at UWE Bristol, has been developing the Partnership PhD scheme. Through it, UWE’s investment in Post Graduate Research has been matched by over £1.5m from 40+ partner organisations.

Application deadline 1 April 2022 for Partnership PhD’s starting in 1 October 2022.

Apply for a Partnership PhD.

Email uwebusiness@uwe.ac.uk to find out more.

Please find below full Partnership PhD guidance, costings, useful information and the flyer for businesses:

See below for our slides for businesses:

Email uwebusiness@uwe.ac.uk to find out more.

Continence care app developed by UWE Bristol academics wins national Nursing award

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An app developed by a national team including UWE Bristol academics has recently won the Nursing Times Award for Continence Promotion and Care.

The free CONfidence app was developed by the Bladder and Bowel CONfidence Health Integration Team (BABCON HIT) as part of Bristol Health Partner’s Academic Health Science Centre.  Development included a national team of clinical experts and patient and public partners, supported by a local self-care app developer, Expert Self Care, to develop a unique app to enable people with bladder and bowel leakage (incontinence) to access self-help advice and information.

The BABCON HIT and app project is led by Dr. Nikki Cotterill, Professor in Continence Care at UWE. The CONfidence app was launched in June during World Continence Week and has just achieved over 1000 downloads. It has been termed a ‘gamechanger’ as it bridges the gap between the millions of people with symptoms who feel they are alone and nothing can be done, and the evidence-based guidance that can really make a difference.

The CONfidence App

The award winning app has already proven to be hugely successful and has been covered regionally, nationally and widespread on social media.

Nikki commented “We are thrilled with the reception of the app so far. Nationally, we’ve seen services adopting it into their service pathways as it aligns with the NHS Long Term plan to promote self-care. It’s also been included in the Orcha app library and is currently undergoing an NHS DTAC review. At its core though, the app can help people to take control of their life where bladder and bowel symptoms are taking the lead, avoiding the physical and mental health declines that can ensue.”

To learn more visit Bristol Health Partners.

UWE Bristol Academic Spotlight: Dr Patrick Crogan

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Patrick Crogan is Associate Professor of Digital Cultures at UWE Bristol where he teaches and researches in media, technology and culture. Originally from Australia, he completed a doctorate at the University of Sydney and taught at a number of institutions in Australia before coming to the UK.

He has worked at UWE Bristol since 2008, where he supports the Media Communications degree programme. He is also a founding member of UWE Bristol’s Digital Cultures Research Centre, a collaborative network focussing on practical approaches to responsible technological futures.

Patrick’s work specifically highlights the link between digital media making and theory. He works in both conventional ‘academic’ and practice-based modes, working with creative makers, an approach that he says keeps him “’fresh’ and ‘honest’”.

Area of expertise

Automation and AI:

Patrick was one of the UWE Bristol-led, AHRC-funded South West Creative Technology Network’s Automation Fellows in 2019-2020. He worked with other Fellows on the future of creative uses of AI and automation. Before that, Patrick was co-investigator on the AHRC Automation Anxiety Research Network (2017-18) which explored innovative methods by which the humanities might address contemporary cultural anxiety about new forms of automation.  He also works on military drone developments and the future of AI and automation in military and civilian circles. In addition to this, he is a collaborator and research lead on the I am Echoborg​ project. Led by colleague and interactive experience designer, Rik Lander, this interactive show challenges the audience to discover the best possible outcome for the relationship between humans and intelligent machines.

Video games and digital culture: 

Patrick’s 2011 book Gameplay Mode critically examines what videogames can tell us about the relations between war and computer-based technoculture. 

He also ran the Creative Territories AHRC Video games research network (2014-15). Its major report The Good Hubbing Guide outlines its major findings and recommendations about independent game maker colocation. 

Bernard Stiegler: 

Patrick’s work is strongly influenced by Bernard Stiegler, a French technology and media philosopher who argued that individuals and society as a whole are increasingly shaped by algorithms and automated systems, driven by economic rather than human interests.  

Patrick has written several pieces on Stiegler’s work’s relevance to film, media and digital cultural theory and translated some of his writings into English. He also guest edited a special issue of the journal Cultural Politics on Stiegler. He is currently working on a book about the philosopher’s relevance to digital media and cultural studies.

Data Science at UWE Bristol

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Dr Kamran Munir is an Associate Professor in Data Science, in the Department of Computer Science and Creative Technologies. Dr. Munir’s research projects are in the areas of Data Science, Big Data and Analytics, Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality.


A Cloud-based Complaints Management and Decision Support System for Sustainable Farming in EgyptAgro Support Analytics

In partnership Fayoum University and with funding from the Newton Fund, British Council and Scientific and Technology Development Fund.


The project aims to resolve the problem of support and advice for farmers in the current manual system by developing a Complaint Management and Decision Support System (CMDSS). The proposed work focuses on research and development into the field of knowledge discovery, through information extraction (IE) and analytics techniques applied on historical Arabic textual complaints data.  The online system will be used to provide adequate and timely advice for farmers upon their enquires / complaints, and also to foresee near future development of circumstances by the experts. 


To make progress toward implementing a Decision Support System for Sustainable Farming in Egypt, to resolve the problem of both the lack of support and advice for farmers.

The application of knowledge discovery and analysis on agricultural data and farmers’ complaints, deployed on a Cloud platform, to provide farming stakeholders with timely and suitable support.

Traditional Query
Response Process

Agro Support Analytics System Perspective


Key contribution is the development of an automated complaint management and decision support strategy, on the basis of extensive research on requirement analysis tailored for Egypt. The solution is grounded on the application of knowledge discovery and analysis on agricultural data and farmers’ complaints, deployed on a Cloud platform, to provide farming stakeholders in Egypt with timely and suitable support. 

System Architecture

Mushrooms are a future of Artificial Intelligence

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A team of researchers from Unconventional Computing Lab, UWE Bristol discovered that fungi are memristors (resistor with memory).

Memristors (memory resistor) close the loop for I-V characteristics of the traditional, passive, semi-conductor devices. A memristor is a physical realisation of the material implication and is therefore a universal logical element. Memristors are getting particular interest in the field of bioelectronics.

In laboratory experiments the Unconventional Computing Lab team show that living oyster mushrooms ‘Pleurotus ostreatus’ exhibit mem-fractive properties. They believe a potential practical implementation of the memristive properties of the fungi would be in the sensorial and computing circuits embedded into mycelium bound composites.

To read the original article click here

The Unconventional Computing Laboratory

The Unconventional Computing Laboratory was founded by Professor Andy Adamatzky in 2001 as a response to an urgent need to develop computers for the next century.

They design novel computational techniques, architectures and working prototypes of non-linear media based computers.

For further information about the Lab please click here

UWE Bristol Professor commissioned by BBC to voice and write new Cary Grant video essay

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Dr Charlotte Crofts, is Associate Professor of Filmmaking at UWE Bristol in the Department of Film & Journalism where she teaches on the BA (Hons) Filmmaking @UWE_Film.

Charlotte was recently commissioned by BBC Arts to write and voice a new video essay about the Bristol born, Hollywood Actor Cary Grant. She is director of the biennial Cary Comes Home Festival and @carycomeshome on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. The Festival aims to celebrate Cary Grant’s Bristol roots, develop new audiences for his work and recreated the golden age of cinema-going.

The film that Professor Crofts has been commissioned to write a video essay about explores the tension between Cary Grant’s working-class roots and his screen persona as the epitome of style. Class was the theme of the recent festival in November and there are events planned this December to commemorate the 20-year anniversary of the unveiling of the Cary Grant statue in Millennium Square in his hometown Bristol.

Cary Grant outside City Hall, College Green, Bristol
‘Cary Comes Home Festival’

December Events

  • Sunday 5 December, 2pm GMT- Looking for Archie Walking Tour: IN-PERSON, Bristol City Centre, UK (book with link)
  • Tuesday 7 December, 6.30pm GMT –  paying homage at the statue: IN-PERSON, next to the statue in Millennium Square, Bristol, UK. No booking required just come and find us next to the statue!
  • Tuesday 7 December, 7.30pm GMT – Interview with David Long who campaigned to erect the statue: ONLINE: Crowdcast

Find out more about the Cary Comes Home Festival

Some Versions of Cary Grant ‘Cary Come Home Festival’.

Watch the video essay on:

Introducing our research strength focus: Digital Futures

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At UWE Bristol we are proud of our active and collaborative research community of bold and innovative thinkers that are breaking research boundaries. 

Our four key research strengths are:   

  • Creative industries and technologies 
  • Digital Futures 
  • Health & Wellbeing 
  • Sustainability and Climate Change Resilience

Over the past three months we have been sharing content around our research strength, Sustainability and Climate Change Resilience. We are now moving onto our next focus: Digital Futures.

 Our research strengths in this area include: 

  • robotics, artificial intelligence and advanced engineering 
  • industrial digitalisation, high-value design and next generation services 
  • future mobile communications, ubiquitous computing, data science and cybersecurity. 

To introduce this research strength, we are going to share with you two of our Digital Futures research case studies: 

Cyber crime: Helping authorities worldwide to tackle financial crime 

Being as vast and intangible as it is, the internet has proved one big loophole for cyber criminals – until now. Turning the tables on fraudsters is the raison d’etre of experts in cyber security and financial crime, who are helping police forces across the world to close in. 

“We know that the rapid exchange of information between cyber criminals, and the lack of information sharing across police forces and countries is a major barrier to success in tackling the issue,” says Professor Phil Legg, Associate Professor of Cyber Security. “Our goal is to work with police forces to understand what tools they currently lack and how we can help by using our research intel to come up with a solution.” 

Phil is working alongside Professor Nic Ryder, Professor of Financial Crime, on a multidisciplinary project to address the evolving nature of crime online, and to develop technological solutions for facilitating law enforcement in this globally connected space. 

Much of Nic’s work has already helped shape improvements in how law enforcement agencies across the world tackle terrorism financing and money laundering. As well as training police authorities in Rome, the Netherlands and the UK, he has worked with NATO, the UK Home Office and the Centre of Research Evidence and Security Threats (CREST). 

A seminal piece of work is the development of a fraud typology that enables agencies to identify where financial crime is being used to fund terrorist activity. The typology is a robust toolkit based on evidence from convicted terrorism cases, which revealed how terrorism is often connected to fraudulent activity in areas including immigration, identity theft, credit cards, tax, student loans and insurance. 

View the full case study  

Digital ethics: Balancing creativity with ethics on and off screen 

What happens when you give people the power to raise the dead? Aside from the creative potential for screen directors to shock audiences into paying attention, the deep fake phenomenon which does precisely that, raises a host of ethical and legal challenges. Who better to test the balance of such powers than Maggie Thatcher…? 

Digital face replacements are commonplace in the high budget film industry, with the widespread use of CGI and digital effects by Disney and the Star Wars franchise, among others. Since 2017 the open source, lower resolution alternative of deep fakes has become widespread, providing an affordable means of translating existing images into a simulated context. 

For television and film directors like UWE Bristol’s Dr Dominic Lees, Associate Head of Department, Filmmaking, this is interesting territory that poses both creative and ethical questions when it comes to examining a director’s intentions and the potential for shifting perceptions. 

“We have a moment in technological development that is really exciting,” says Dominic. “It’s the democratisation of what has been an extremely elite part of the studio and film process for some years. Philosophically, it raises questions around why we would want to do this, how we do it, and whether we even ought to.” 

These are the questions that Dominic is exploring in collaboration with colleagues from Law, and Engineering and Technology, via the Virtual Maggie project, digitally resurrecting the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for a contemporary short film set in the 1980s. 

Having filmed several scenes with a real actor, they are now testing out open source (artificial intelligence) AI technology to recreate the actor’s scenes with a simulated version of Thatcher’s face. 

Dominic says: “It’s both interesting and rattling to consider whether I want people to completely believe that this is Margaret Thatcher, which I could never do because the audience knows she wasn’t alive when I was shooting this film? Or whether I want it to be slightly unbelievable so that viewers are aware of the artifice of what I’m doing, and appreciate the fakeness?” 

View the full case study

UWE Bristol Staff – Changing Climate Network

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The Changing Climate Network connects people across UWE Bristol to foster conversations, showcase projects and encourage collaborative bids for funding to research the causes and consequences of ecological overshoot. This feels especially relevant in light of the outcomes from COP26 and its roadmap to a future that will inevitably be hotter.

The next network event – Researching Climate Crisis & Restorative Futures: A post-COP26 discussion – will offer a space to process the implications of COP26.

Participants will consider questions such as:  

  • How are we affected by the outcomes of COP?  
  • How does it feel to be working on this urgent, fast-changing and existential issue?  
  • How do we negotiate our personal responses to it?  
  • How do we support each other as a research community?  
  • What are the emerging challenges and opportunities post COP26, and how can the University contribute?

The event, to be held via Zoom on Monday 6 December (1-4 pm), is being designed and delivered by Professor Mandy Rose (Director, Digital Cultures Research Centre), Kirsti Norris (UWE’s Energy Manager), Olivia Lelong (Bid Developer, STEM & the Environment, Research, Business and Innovation) and Professor Jim Longhurst (Assistant Vice Chancellor: Environment & Sustainability).

Since being launched in autumn 2020 by Jim Longhurst and Olivia Lelong, the Changing Climate Network has been growing in membership (currently about 170) and momentum to reflect the range and richness of related research at UWE.  An MS Teams site serves as a network notice board for posting information about funding calls, webinars and conferences, requests for expertise and news items. 

Network events, held roughly once a quarter, focus on different themes.  April’s event showcased UWE research on resilience – psychological resilience to climate anxiety among children; buildings’ and communities’ resilience to flooding; resilience in the marine environment and the creative economy, and the importance of water security to drought resilience.

Two events (July and October) have explored recent and ongoing research on cultural change in the face of a changing climate.  The research ranges geographically from Ladakh, where communities must cope with melting glaciers and droughts, to Madagascar, where wildlife conservation needs can conflict with economic interests, to Appalachia, where Gothic literature evokes the extreme effects of consumerism.  

UWE academics also presented their research into unconscious representations of the Anthropocene in contemporary culture and how climate change denial is a way of managing fear.  Socio-technological research is addressing the need to move beyond animal-based food systems and includes an energy-producing, waste-treating building block made of microbial fuel cells created by UWE’s Bristol BioEnergy Centre.  Other researchers discussed their work on climate justice, repair culture and the role of social learning and communication in behavioural change.

To join the Changing Climate Network and/or to receive an invitation to the event on 6 December, please contact Olivia.