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UOA 23 - Computer Science and Informatics

Lancaster University

RA5a: Research environment and esteem

Part I: Research Environment

1. Introduction

The Computing Department encapsulates computer science research at Lancaster University and is active in four areas: networking and distributed systems, mobile and ubiquitous computing, software engineering and human-computer interaction. In all four areas, leadership is evident in terms of high impact outputs (papers with >100 citations in each area), a large grant volume (>200 grants, £15M), international collaboration (1/4 of outputs internationally co-authored), industrial collaboration (>50 industry co-authored papers and patents), hosting of international conferences and workshops (6 major events with published proceedings), and a sustained presence on steering and program committees of international conferences (~20 instances with chair roles). In recognition of excellence, Lancaster attracted £15M investment for InfoLab21, an award-winning research building and centre for knowledge transfer in computing and communication technologies in the Northwest, with additional investment by the University in 8 new academic posts (in 3 cases based on successful bids for RCUK fellowships).

On key input metrics, the Department exceeds the average for computer science units graded 5* in 2001: 1.29 RAs/staff (5*: 0.83), 1.83 PhD students/staff (5*: 1.80) and £75k annual income/staff (5*: £61k). In terms of research output, the Department has achieved a much higher citation impact than 5* units for outputs submitted in 2001. Specifically, papers published in the first 4 years of this RAE period and included in the Department’s submission have a citation average of 46; in comparison, papers included in the 2001 5* submissions, which have been much longer in the public domain, have a citation average of 31 (Google Scholar, Aug. 2007).

Our long-term objective is to continue to advance the field of computer science through the study of research challenges in a systems context – recognising that computing in practice involves problems, ideas and principles that are inherently inter-related. This objective is reflected in an organisational strategy that fosters work across sub-areas within computing (staff are not grouped into subdivisions but connected in a network of research activity across thematic areas), and in a commitment to interdisciplinary research (grants and outputs have been co-authored with partners in sociology, psychology, management science, linguistics and design) and research in partnership with users in many application fields (e.g. telecommunications, healthcare, business and environment). 

2. Staff Development and Research Infrastructure and Support

2.1. Staff changes

We have grown significantly in the RAE period, and on census date comprise 30.25 FTE research-active academic staff (up 11% from 2001), 38.5 FTE research associates (up 66%) and 55 FTE research students (up 53%). 12 new academic appointments have been made, and 7 staff have left the department (2 retirements, 2 to posts abroad and 3 to other UK universities).

The University has strategically invested in 8 new posts with 6 FTE allocated to the Computing Department: 1 post to lead a newly established unit for applied research in regional networking; 1 post to further strengthen software engineering research; 2 posts (readership and lectureship) in networking research at the interface of the Computing Department and the Department of Communication Systems; 2 RCUK fellowships in ubiquitous computing to sustain the rapid expansion of the Department’s activity in this area; and 2 posts (chair and RCUK fellowship) to develop interdisciplinary research in environmental informatics jointly with the Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC). 

The Department has strategically developed a critical mass of leadership in each of its four research areas, enabling it to handle staff changes with agility. As a result, momentum has been sustained in transition periods, including the departure of long-standing leaders Shepherd and Sommerville during the assessment period. Our recruitment strategy is to appoint in areas of complementarity to the existing portfolio, to bring in new perspectives while sustaining coherence. Recruitment is managed with pro-active search committees targeting top quality candidates internationally. The success of this approach is evident as staff recruited have moved to Lancaster from positions held in the US (Whittle, Pink, Kortuem), Ireland (Roedig, Sas), Germany (Mauthe, Rukzio), France (Salamatian, Taïani) and Brazil (Garcia).

2.2. Staff development and contribution of early career staff

Staff development is fostered through a lively and stimulating research environment (involving a critical mass of activity around any given specialism), a collegiate culture of support (informal mentoring and advising), and formalised schemes that include developmental appraisal of all staff (on an annual basis), an entitlement to sabbatical research leave (14 staff took sabbaticals in the RAE period) and staff development courses provided by the University. The impact of staff development is evident in the international recognition enjoyed by academic staff (27 have served on PCs of international conferences, 12 in chair roles), in academic appointments of research staff (5 in the UK and >10 internationally), and in fast career development from graduation to international leadership (e.g. Rashid developed from PhD 2001 to international leadership in aspect-oriented software development and chair position in the Department; Schmidt from PhD 2002 and RA post to international leadership in ubiquitous computing and chair position at Bonn University, Germany).

Particular emphasis is placed on the development of early career academics with the following policies:

  • Active encouragement of staff early in their careers to take on responsible leadership in major initiatives; e.g. Rashid (first appointment 2001) leading a European Network of Excellence; Kortuem (2003) leading a £1M EPSRC grant across Computing, Management and Psychology departments; Rayson (2006) directing the University Centre for Computer Corpus Research on Language (UCREL).
  • Reduced teaching load for the first three years of their career (66% of the average, ~25 lecture hours p.a.) and significantly lower administration duties; new academics also benefit from a graduate teaching assistant (GTA) programme with an individual GTA assigned to support all larger modules thus reducing the burden in terms of marking and lab co-ordination.
  • A pro-active mentoring scheme for all early career staff, coupled with the aforementioned annual appraisal scheme. All new appointees also participate in the University’s staff development programme to develop their academic, research, and leadership capacity.
  • Allocation of PhD studentships to early career staff from the Department’s Doctoral Training Account. 
  • Linking early career staff into existing activity through joint supervision of research students with senior members of staff.

The department has eight early career staff, all with distinct areas of contribution and active in roles of leadership:

 

Area of contribution

Examples of leadership and esteem

Garcia

Multi-agent systems, empirical evaluation in SE/AOSD

PC member of AOSD 2006 and other international conferences

Hazas

Location systems for ubiquitous computing

PC co-chair LoCA 2006, PC member of Pervasive and Ubicomp conferences

Rayson

Computational linguistics

Co-organiser Corpus Linguistics conf. series, Prod. editor of Corpora Journal

Roedig

Wireless sensor networks

PC member of EWSN, the premier  European conference for WSN research

Rooksby

Ethnography in software engineering

Organisation of a series of workshops on Ethnography in Healthcare/SE

Rukzio

Mobile interaction in ubiquitous computing

Demonstrations chair, Pervasive 2008

Sas

Spatial interaction in virtual environments

Conference co-chair, BCS HCI 2007

Taïani

Dependability in distributed systems

Abstracts chair, 6th Europ. Dependable Computing Conference (EDCC-6)

 

2.3. Infrastructure, Facilities and Research Support

The following major institutional investments have been made during the assessment period:

  • The InfoLab21 research building and knowledge transfer centre; this is a £15M investment by the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA), the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the University.
  • SRIF and University capital equipment funding for: laboratory space and facilities for research in ubiquitous computing and human-computer interaction (Innovative Interactions Lab, £433,047); a campus-wide testbed deployment of a network of ubiquitous display systems (eCampus, £532,450); networking research equipment (£72,000).
  • New staff positions (cf. section 2.1), representing new investment by the University of around £403,229 p.a.

In 2004, the Computing Department relocated to the new InfoLab21 building. Architecturally, the building is explicitly designed to foster our collaborative research culture and technology transfer activities, and was awarded best corporate workplace prize by the British Council for Offices in 2005. InfoLab21 now houses all computing research activities, and provides the following research facilities, infrastructure and support concentrated under one roof:

  • Laboratories and equipment for experimental systems research, hardware and embedded systems prototyping, and usability studies managed as a shared infrastructure to flexibly support the research activity of all staff and students.
  • Administrative support provided to all staff by a dedicated research support team within the Department (2 experienced project managers, 1 project officer, and 4 secretaries, in addition to central research support and contract offices in the University), taking care of all administrative and financial aspects of research proposals, grants and contracts.
  • Knowledge transfer support provided by a Knowledge Business Centre (KBC) established within InfoLab21, brokering relationships with research users, and assisting in dissemination and exploitation of research results, including provision of incubator space for spin-outs.

The Department invests a substantial amount into research annually (£91k in 2006/7). Around 50% of this is reserved for flexible research support available to all staff, e.g. for pump-priming new research activity, for supporting early career staff, and for new collaborations. The remaining 50% is used for studentships, equipment, seminars and research retreats. Additional funds are available to all research staff from the University through small grants (£93k awarded to Computing staff during the RAE period).

3. Research Areas, Collaboration and Impact

3.1. Areas of Research and Research Leadership

Networking and distributed systems. During the RAE period we maintained our leadership status in networking (Hutchison, Mathy, Finney, Scott, Race) and distributed systems (Blair, Coulson) research; and, following the loss of Prof. Doug Shepherd, consolidated with the recruitment of Pink (networking) and Mauthe (multimedia). Subsequently, we have significantly expanded our networking and distributed systems activities with the appointments of Taïani (dependable systems), Roedig (sensor networks), Marshall (environmental networks) and Salamatian (performance analysis). This expansion has resulted in a realignment of our activities to a contemporary research agenda:

  • A focus on the fundamentals of IP-based networking in the key areas of next generation IP, mobility support, quality of service and network resilience [Pink 1,2,4; Scott 1,4, Finney 1,2,4, Hutchison 3,4].
  • A coherent exploration of network virtualisation based on overlays, virtual routers, application-level group communication and active/programmable networks [Mathy 1-4, Hutchison 2-4, Scott 2,3]; and at higher level media content management and distribution [Mauthe 3, Race 2,3, Hutchison 1].
  • An approach to the support of distributed applications in challenging domains such as sensor networking, mobile computing, and grid computing based on reflective component-based middleware frameworks [Blair 1-4, Coulson 1-4, Taïani 1-4].

Our results have been published in top venues (incl. SIGCOMM, INFOCOM); are widely cited (5 papers with already >100 citations); have contributed significantly to standardisation (e.g. IETF [Pink 2], MPEG-7 [Hutchison 1]); and led to patents and commercial exploitation (e.g. [Scott 1, Pink 1]). We have also received special recognition with a Queen’s Award for a rural networking initiative, and a Microsoft Academic Excellence Award for our mobile IPv6 activity.

Our continued leadership in the area is evidenced by the leading roles we have taken in many EU Framework projects including 6NET, ENTHRONE, E-NEXT, CONTENT, ANA and RUNES; in our representation on the PCs of the most prestigious networking conferences ACM SIGCOMM (Hutchison in 2003, Mathy in 2007), IEEE INFOCOM (Finney, Mathy, Hutchison) and ACM MOBICOM (Finney, Davies); in the many senior roles of Blair and Coulson in conference committees in the Middleware area (incl. chairing the steering committee of the ACM/IEEE/Usenix International Middleware Conference); and in the invitation of early career staff to senior roles including PC membership of ACM Multimedia (Roedig) and IEEE ICDCS (Taïani). We have also hosted two major international workshops within the RAE period: IDMS 2001 on Interactive Distributed Multimedia Systems (chairs: Shepherd, Finney, Mathy & Race), and IWSOS 2007 on Self-Organizing Systems (chair: Hutchison).

Mobile and ubiquitous computing. Building on our long-standing expertise in mobile computing (Davies, Friday, Cheverst) we have substantially expanded research in this area to encompass ubiquitous computing with the appointment of Gellersen and Kortuem at the start of the assessment period, and the subsequent creation of two new posts based on RCUK academic fellowships in 2005/6 (Hazas, Rukzio). The research strategy in this area is to combine top-down research of deployed systems with bottom-up investigation of novel devices, methods and system support: 

  • Deployment of ubiquitous systems in the field to develop grounded insight into systems issues and human factors (context-aware systems [Davies 1, Cheverst 3, Race 4], situated displays [Friday 3, Finney 3, Cheverst 1,4], wireless embedded systems [Kortuem 3,4, Davies 4]).
  • Innovation of devices and methods to support context- and location-awareness [Gellersen 1, Friday 1, Hazas 2-4]) and mobile and spontaneous interaction in ubiquitous systems [Kortuem 1, Gellersen 4, Rukzio 4].
  • Development of system support for ubiquitous computing from location-based services and service discovery [Davies 3, Pink 3] to privacy and payment [Friday 2, Davies 2].

Outputs resulting from this research are widely cited (11 papers with >10 citations/yr, 6 with >100 citations) and we have a leading presence in the top conferences in this field (2007: only European paper in ACM Mobisys, 3 papers in Ubicomp, and Best Paper Award at Pervasive; all three conferences are single-track and highly competitive).

Leadership in this field is evident in co-ordination of international collaborations (4 projects co-ordinated in the EC’s Future and Emerging Technologies program) and a ubiquitous presence on the PCs of the leading conferences in the field, including as PC co-chair of Ubicomp 2004 (Davies), Pervasive 2005 (Gellersen), Mobisys 2006 (Davies), Ubicomp 2006 (Friday). Senior staff also have leading editorial roles as Associate Editor-in-chief of IEEE Pervasive, Associate Editor of IEEE Trans Mobile Systems (both Davies) and Editor of Springer/ACM Personal and Ubiquitous Computing (Gellersen). Early career staff are also internationally active and recognised (e.g. Hazas as program co-chair of LoCA 2006, and Rukzio as organiser of the PERMID international workshop series). The department has hosted two international events in this area: WMCSA 2004, a world-class IEEE workshop series in mobile computing since 1994 and held for the first time outside North America (chair: Friday); and EuroSSC 2007, the second European Conference on Smart Sensing and Context (chair: Kortuem).

Software engineering. We have two new chairs at the helm of our software engineering research (following the departure of Prof. Ian Sommerville in 2006): Rashid, who has emerged as a leader in aspect-oriented software development (AOSD, with L. Blair, Garcia) in this RAE period; and Whittle, joining the department at the end of the RAE period to build up model-driven engineering as a new additional research focus (supported by a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award). In addition, long-standing research interests have been continued in requirements engineering (Sawyer, Rayson, Rashid) and system design in a socio-technical context (Rouncefield, Rooksby, Mariani). Collectively, the research aims to tackle the growing complexity of software systems through:

  • Development of techniques for understanding the problem domain and system requirements [Rashid 1,3,4; Sawyer 1,2,4; Rayson 2,3; Rouncefield 2,3; Rooksby 3].
  • Novel modularity and composition mechanisms centred on aspect-oriented software development for both problem understanding and solution organisation [Rashid 1-4; Sawyer 3; Rayson 2,3;  L. Blair 4; Garcia 2,3].
  • Rigorous evaluation of research concepts using empirical and ethnographic techniques in order to demonstrate their potential value to beneficiaries [Garcia 1,2,4; Rooksby 1,2,4; Rouncefield 1-3; Mariani 3; Rayson 1].

Research outcomes have been published in top venues (general SE venues incl. Trans. SE, ICSE, ECOOP and FSE; and the relevant specialist conferences: AOSD, RE, MODELS, CSCW), are frequently cited (9 papers with citation rates >10/yr).

Lancaster has become the most influential university in Europe in AOSD (e.g. leading AOSD-Europe, an FP6 NoE, and AMPLE, an FP6 RTD project), and continued to lead in use of social analysis in system design (e.g. in the Dependability IRC). Examples of leadership and recognition include Co-editor-in-Chief of Trans. AOSD and PC Co-chair AOSD 2006 (Rashid); Chair of a BCS requirements engineering specialist group (Sawyer); and a Microsoft European Research Fellowship (Rouncefield). Lancaster has hosted the international conferences AOSD 2004 (chair: Rashid) and Corpus Linguistics 2001 and 2003 (co-organised by Rayson), and a series of workshops on ethnography in system design (co-organised by Rooksby).

Note that the area has been further strengthened by the appointment from 1 January 2008 of Jaejoon Lee as a lecturer in software product lines; this strongly complements the new focus on model-driven engineering.

Human-Computer Interaction. In this area, we have established leaders in the general field of HCI (Dix), in computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW: Rouncefield, Mariani), and in mobile HCI which has emerged in this RAE period as a distinct sub-field (Cheverst). In the assessment period, our activity has expanded with research on HCI technologies (Gellersen, Kortuem) and with early career appointment of Sas (psychology-led HCI research) and of Rukzio (mobile HCI technologies). The research in this area is aimed to advance HCI knowledge and technology in a wider systems context through: 

  • Development of new understandings of human interaction with computing systems from theoretically grounded perspectives (on topics including physicality, location, space, control, presence [Dix 1,3,4; Sas 1-4])
  • Empirical research into the use of interactive technologies and systems in practice (in application fields from domestic to medical to public performance [Rouncefield 1-4, Mariani 1-4, Dix 3] with focus on mobile, context-aware and situated systems [Cheverst 1-4; Sas 1].
  • Novel devices and techniques for interaction and visualization [Dix 2, Gellersen 3, Kortuem 1-2, Rukzio 1-3, Race 4].

Publications produced in this RAE period have appeared in the highest impact journals in this field (HCI, IJHCS, TOCHI, UMUAI, TVCG). New technologies for interaction emerging from the research have been exhibited in the world-leading conferences in the field (SIGGRAPH, CHI and UIST; e.g. twice selected for inclusion in SIGGRAPH’s prestigious Emerging Technologies program, 2003 and 2006).

Our leadership in the field has been demonstrated in roles including associate paper chairs for the leading conferences CHI and CSCW (Dix, Mariani, Rouncefield), program co-chair ECSCW’05 (Gellersen), steering committee Mobile HCI conference (Cheverst), general co-chair of BCS HCI (Sas) and general co-chair TEI’08: 2nd Int. Conf. on Tangible and Embedded Interaction (Gellersen). Dix and Gellersen have given keynotes worldwide (e.g. at the premier CS conference in South Africa; regional HCI conferences in Australia, Brazil, Spain and Germany; and ‘ambient intelligence’ symposia in Japan and France). Lancaster hosted the annual BCS HCI conference in 2007 (general co-chair: Sas), as well as numerous workshops including a new international series on Physicality held in 2006 and 2007.

3.2. Academic Collaboration

International collaboration. More than 30 of the papers in this submission have international co-authors; and 59 projects in this RAE period (worth £5.1M) have been international collaborations (46 of these have been funded by the EC, in 6 instances with Lancaster as consortium leader). Non-EU funded larger collaborations include our participation as one of only two international partners in an interdisciplinary research programme on ubiquitous computing in The Netherlands (Smart Surroundings), and directly funded collaborations with non-UK industries (e.g. Telekom Austria). Our staff have networks of informal collaboration world-wide that extend beyond formally funded collaborations – co-authorship of publications for example has extended beyond Europe to the Americas, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. 

The vitality of the Department in terms of academic collaboration is also evident in exchanges of staff and students. International visitors and exchanges have included: academics on sabbatical (Katz/Technion,  Fry/Sydney, Masoodian/Waikato, France/Colorado State, Batista/UFRN Brazil, Terada/Osaka); longer-term visiting affiliates (Lea/British Columbia, Sterbenz/Kansas); a Marie Curie early career fellow (Mayrhofer/Linz); a large number of visiting PhD students, including interns from the US (e.g. Matthews/Berkeley), Japan (Kishino/Osaka) and pan-European PhD schemes (e.g. Vazquez/Deusto, Spain); and a steady stream of junior researchers visiting for longer periods, for instance from universities in Germany (e.g. 9 from U. Munich in the last 3 years, 3 from U. Karlsruhe, 3 from TU Darmstadt), Norway (where Blair and Hutchison hold adjunct positions), and Brazil (based on close ties in both AOSD and distributed systems).

National collaboration. The department participated in two of EPSRC’s Interdisciplinary Research Challenges from 2000 to 2006: the Equator IRC and the Dependability IRC. Equator collaborative outcomes include publications in leading HCI venues (ACM CHI, TOCHI) as well as design work jointly developed with the Royal College of Art (later Goldsmith) and exhibited widely to the public (e.g. Tate Britain). DIRC joint outcomes have included studies and publications on socio-technical system design (with Edinburgh, York and Newcastle). We also participated in EPSRC networks (UK-UbiNet on Ubiquitous Computing, Leonardo in the Culture and Creativity programme, and NGN: Next Generation Networking), in joint EPSRC grants with other institutions (e.g. UCL), in multi-site DTI projects (e.g. Imperial College), and in NWDA funded research (Manchester and Daresbury).

Interdisciplinary collaboration. The Department has a long-standing track record of interdisciplinary research, most notably with sociology on social analysis in system design, and with linguistics on computation analysis of large bodies of natural language (we manage UCREL, the University Centre for Computer Corpus Research on Language, with Rayson as director). Within this RAE period, grants and outputs have been co-authored with partners in sociology, psychology, management science, linguistics, design and environmental science (both within Lancaster and with other institutions). Interdisciplinary collaboration is further strengthened by strategic joint appointments with the Lancaster Environment Centre (a chair and an RCUK academic fellow) and with the Department of Communication Systems (a reader and a lecturer). 

Many of our national and international collaborations are interdisciplinary. These include the EPSRC-funded Equator and DIRC Interdisciplinary Research Collaborations (IRCs), which led to significant outputs at the interface of computing with art and design and with sociology respectively (see above). New initiatives include a collaboration with product design research in the DEPtH project funded under the EPSRC/AHRC Design 21 programme, and with environmental modellers in the GridStix project funded under NERC/FREE programme. International interdisciplinary activities include the European Disappearing Computer initiative in which we led two projects, and a new collaboration between computer science and industrial design funded by the Dutch government.

3.3. Industrial Collaboration, Knowledge Transfer and Relationship with Research Users

Industrial collaboration. The department had £1.4M of direct research income from industry in the assessment period, primarily from 9 partners (Agilent, BT, Cisco, Intel, Lucent, Microsoft, Orange, Telekom Austria and Xerox). The most significant industry-sponsored project in this RAE period was the Mobile IPv6 Systems Research Lab sponsored by Microsoft, Cisco and Orange to the value of £750,000 plus in kind donations exceeding £250,000 to develop and undertake experimental systems research upon a real-world (mobile) IPv6 testbed: this resulted in transfer of code produced at Lancaster into commercial releases of the Microsoft Windows CE.NET and .NET Server operating systems, and won the department the first Microsoft Windows Embedded Award for Academic Excellence in July 2002. Long-term partnerships are also established with non-UK industry (e.g. Telekom Austria, direct funding of over £500k in this period and further commitment until at least 2009, for research on computer networking to assist the R&D agenda of the company).

In addition we have participated in 46 EC projects, all involving close collaboration with industrial partners and/or end-user organisations, and in a number of DTI and other UK-funded academic-industrial projects. Many of our research council grants involve close collaboration with industry, for example three grants in the WINES programme (involving Agilent, BP, Carillion, Insensys, Intelisys, In Touch, ITI Energy, Macom Technologies, NEL, Orange, Scottish Power, STW and Xilinx). Further close relationships with industry and research users include the BBC, Daimler Chrysler, Fiat, IBM, Philips, Qinetiq, SAP, Siemens, Telecom Italia and Telefonica, as well as government agencies internationally (e.g. China Centre for Information Industry Development).

Knowledge Transfer. In InfoLab21, our research is now embedded in a technology transfer environment with a dedicated Knowledge Business Centre (KBC). The KBC manages transfer activities to 20 companies located in the building and has over 500 associate companies in the North West. The knowledge transfer strategies include Technology Matters events for promotion of selected areas of research, matchmaking activities to broker licensing and commercialisation of specific technologies, support for IPR protection and creation of spin-outs, and a Graduate Academy that engages recent graduates for specific transfer and consultancy activities. As a result, new relationships between research and business in the region are established; for example with In Touch Ltd, a mobile communications SME in Morecambe, via two Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) and an EPSRC WINES project (NEMO), to achieve technology transfer in the area of wireless embedded systems for industrial workplaces (this work led directly to the Leader of the House of Commons, Jack Straw MP, praising the University in the House for its record of working with business). 

InfoLab21 with KBC is now seen as a model of the way in which academia should be engaging with industry, a view endorsed by the InfoLab21 Advisory Board, whose members include the heads of research at BT, Microsoft UK, the BBC and OFCOM. The NWDA, the main sponsor of InfoLab21, has given a further £3M to the University to create a replica of InfoLab21’s KBC focusing on Environmental Science.

Lancaster University is a founder member of the newly announced Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) in Digital Communications, and is represented on the steering board (Hutchison). InfoLab21 will be the Northwest node of this national network.

Relationship with society. The department collaborates with research users in a wide range of sectors and areas of societal concern including healthcare, social inclusion, safety in the workplace and the environment. Research in healthcare informatics (in the DIRC, Equator, Chameleon, and Ideal projects) has led to long-standing collaborations with the NHS, specifically the Central Lancashire Primary Care Trust. Work in the DIRC, Equator, Caside and Microsoft Fellowship projects has involved engagement with several organisations caring for disabled or disadvantaged people including the Methodist Housing Association, Croftlands Trust, and Fylde Coast Women’s Refuge. Research on embedded technologies supporting workplace safety (in CoBIS, NEMO and Relate) has involved field trials with workers in the chemical industry (in collaboration with BP), fieldworkers in road maintenance (in Carillion), and fire-fighters (involving the Paris Fire-brigade). Sensor network research is also applied to environmental challenges (flood management) in collaboration with the Environment Agency. 

Networking research in the Department is closely linked with ISS (Lancaster’s computer services division), with direct impact on regional networking and quality of life of the region. An example is CLEO, the largest regional rural broadband network in Europe, with roots in our work on the Superhighways Initiative (Hutchison, Scott), offering networked services to over 1,100 primary and 130 secondary schools, often in remote areas. This network also supported a research project with the BBC on wireless broadband provision in a rural community (the village of Wray). The University won the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher & Further Education in 2006 for the CLEO and Wray work (Race).

The Department, in partnership with the KBC, maintains a strong public awareness programme, including the distribution of an e-newsletter to over 1000 individuals and companies, the running of a schools outreach programme (including Headstart courses promoting ubiquitous computing to year 12 pupils), and a range of more specific events including a highly acclaimed technology enhanced war memories exhibition at the Brewery Arts Centre in April/May 2005.

3.4. Cumulative Impact

The Department has strong cumulative impact in all four areas of its research. The quality of academic impact is evident in the publication of results in the most competitive venues in the relevant fields, and in outstanding citation rates (section 3.1). The academic achievements are internationally recognised in the relevant fields as reflected in invitation of our staff into leading editorial and conference roles (cf. Part II: esteem) and PhD examination world-wide (~60 in 24 countries). Our research achieves strong impact on wealth creation and quality of life through its grounding in applications of commercial and societal value (section 3.3). In InfoLab21 we have developed a knowledge transfer environment noted as exemplary, and commercial relevance of research outcomes is evident in technology transfer on a very significant scale (transfer of IPv6 research into releases of widespread operating systems), patenting of research applications (10 granted, further 5 filed), and creation of spin outs (4 spin-outs since InfoLab21 has been established, from research in HCI, distributed systems and interdisciplinary work with the management school and linguistics). Our impact on regional development and quality of life in the region, has been outstanding, through InfoLab21 as a flagship development for computing and communication technologies in the North West, as well as the CLEO networking initiatives, award-winning for their societal impact.

4. Research income and training

4.1. Research Income

The inherently resource-intensive nature of our research requires significant external support for both personnel and infrastructure. We seek support from a spread of sources with an emphasis on those that cater for longer-term and higher-risk research. Our main funding sources are the UK Research Councils (> 50%). The proportion of funding obtained from European Framework Programmes has significantly increased (> 30%) and a third major source is industry-related including direct funding and KTPs (>10%).  Overall, the Department’s research income in the reporting period was £15M, with a steady annual growth of 5-7%, reaching £2.7M p.a. in 2006/7 (£89k/staff).

Our strategy for sustaining funding levels and high grant application success rates in a competitive funding environment is threefold: proactive nurturing of new research ideas (e.g. supported by internal small grants and studentship allocations); developing strategic academic and industrial partnerships (as much of our funding is for interdisciplinary and collaborative research); and supporting best practice in proposal development (internal reviewing, sharing best practice, mentoring first applicants).

4.2. Research Students and Degrees Awarded

62.5 PhD and 3 MPhil degrees were awarded during the RAE period (a total of 2.17 degrees/staff). The average of PhD degrees per year was 9.58 for the full calendar years in the reporting period, and has risen to 13.5 in 2006 (in 2007 13 PhDs completed so far). Note that the trajectory for these figures is set to rise further as the effects of our recent significant growth in research student numbers bears fruit (>50% growth since the previous RAE).

Our research students are supported in their PhD progress through: i) team supervision; ii) a formal system of annual progress appraisal panels; and iii) University and Department funding for participation in workshops and doctoral colloquia, and presentation of their results in international conferences. We also fund a seminar series and an annual retreat, both organised by PhD students for PhD students, and continually create opportunities for participation in international exchanges, internship programmes and industrial placements (students have been placed e.g. with Microsoft Research, Intel Research, and HITLab NZ). The research training environment further encompasses courses and funds for transferable skills training, and support networks including language and learning support for international students.

5. Sustainability of the research environment

The Department has developed significantly during this RAE period in terms of international recruitment in all areas, move into a new research building and knowledge transfer centre, and expansion of academic and industrial collaboration, with consequent growth in regional, national and international impact. We see our distinctive strength as the agility and coherence of our research organisation in which staff develop individual profiles and international standing but are connected, in terms of interrelated research interests, with colleagues across the thematic areas covered in the Department. Therefore the principal strategy for sustaining the vitality and credibility of our research environment is to continually develop new synergies both within the Department and across disciplinary boundaries.

Concretely, we plan to develop the following specific areas: an approach to networking challenges that cross-cuts traditional EE/CS boundaries leveraging the expertise of recent appointments Salamatian (measurement, information theory [Salamatian 1-4]) and Roedig (sensor networks, cross-layer optimisation [Roedig 1,3,4]); a new focus in software engineering on novel abstraction and composition mechanisms complementary to our research on requirements and aspects, initiated with our strategic recruitment of Whittle (model-driven engineering [Whittle 1-4]) and Lee (product line engineering); and environmental informatics research on digital observatories that link real-time sensing with environmental modelling, building on the cross-disciplinary backgrounds of new appointments Marshall (sensor networks, network management [Marshall 1-4]) and James (environmental sensing and imaging).

Our strategy in the longer term is to further expand our interdisciplinary research; over the next five years we specifically aim to develop new initiatives in art and design with Interaction@Lancaster, a recently founded interdisciplinary research laboratory within the Lancaster Institute for Contemporary Arts (LICA), and in health informatics with a School of Health and Medicine that will be established at Lancaster with effect from 2008/9.

 

Part II: Indicators of Esteem

G. S. Blair

1. Chair of the Steering Committee, ACM/ IFIP/ USENIX Middleware Series of Conferences from April 2005 to date (and member of the steering committee since co-founding the event in 1998).

2. Invited Talk, 5th IFIP Conference on Distributed Applications and Interoperable Systems (DAIS) and 7th IFIP Conference on Formal Methods for Open Object-Based Distributed Systems (FMOODS), held jointly and sharing invited plenary talks, Athens, June 2005.

3. Programme co-chair (with Doug Schmidt), 3rd International Symposium on Distributed Objects and Applications (DOA’01), Rome, September 2001.

4. Editorial Board Member, Software and Systems Modeling (SoSyM), Springer, since 2006.

L. Blair – part-time (0.25 FTE)

5. PC Member 3rd Intl. Conf. on Aspect-Oriented Software Development (AOSD 2004).

Cheverst

6. Long-standing PC membership (since 2001), International Conference on Human Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services (Mobile HCI); and founding member of the Mobile HCI Steering Committee since its conception in 2004.

7. PC Member, International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces (IUI) 2005, 2006 and 2007.

Coulson

8. Invited Talk, IEEE International Conference on Open Architectures and Network Programming (OPENARCH), Anchorage, Alaska, 2001.

9. Long-term PC membership and involvement with ACM/IFIP/USENIX International Middleware Conference (includes serving as Workshops Chair in 2005).

10. Editorial Board Member, IEEE Distributed Systems Online Journal (was founder member of this journal and also served on the EiC search committee).

11. Long-standing (5 year) membership of the Steering Committee, Adaptive and Reflective Middleware workshop series (served as Program Co-chair of the 2006 edition).

Davies

12. Associate Editor, IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing (the premier journal in mobile computing) from its inception in December 2001 (first issue March 2002) to March 2005

13. Associate Editor-in-chief IEEE Pervasive Computing.

14. Program Co-chair, ACM International Conference on Mobile Systems and Applications (Mobisys 2006).

15. Program Co-chair, 6th International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing (Ubicomp 2004).

Dix

16. Member, ACM SIGCHI Awards Committee, 2003-6.

17. Long-term involvement in ACM CHI including Associate Chair CHI 2006, Education Community Co-chair CHI 2008, and individual workshop organization 2003, 2004 and 2006.

18. Keynote at OzCHI 2003, Australia and New-Zealand’s leading forum for work in all areas of Human-Computer Interaction, Brisbane, November 2003. (Keynotes at national HCI conferences also given in Spain and Brazil).

19. Keynote at SAICSIT 2001, South African Institute of Computer Scientists and Information Technologists Annual Conference, Pretoria, September 2001.

Finney

20. PC Member, IEEE Conference on Computer Communications (INFOCOM), 2005-2007.

Friday

21. Program Co-chair, 8th International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing (Ubicomp 2006).

22. Long term involvement in IEEE WMCSA/ HotMobile, the premier international mobile computing workshop series: PC member in 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, chair in 2004, and steering committee member since 2004.

23. Area editor, Mobile Computing and Communications Review (MC2R), ACM SIGMOBILE.

Garcia – early career

24. PC Member, 5th Intl. Conf. on Aspect-Oriented Software Development (AOSD 2006).

Gellersen

25. Chair of evaluation panel, international review of computer science in Finland 2000-2006, on invitation of the Academy of Finland.

26. Editor, ACM/Springer Journal on Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, since 1999.

27. Program Co-chair (with Roy Want), 3rd Intl. Conf. on Pervasive Computing (Pervasive 2005); also Chair of the Steering Committee of this conference since 2007.

28. Program Co-chair (with Kjeld Schmidt), 9th European Conf. on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (ECSCW’05).

Hazas – early career

29. Program Co-chair (with John Krumm), 2nd Workshop on Location and Context-Awareness (LoCA 2006).

30. PC membership of both Pervasive 2007 and Ubicomp 2007, the two leading conferences in the area of ubiquitous computing.

Hutchison

31. Series editor for Computer Communication Networks and Telecommunications on the Editorial board of the Springer-Verlag Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS).

32. PC member IEEE INFOCOM 2001-2006, from 2003 chairing a papers review sub-group, 2006 on the Executive Committee as International Vice-Chair.

33. Invited keynote talks at the EU, and at QofIS 2004 in Barcelona, proposing the case for resilience research, now embraced by FP7.

34. International leadership in computer networking, latest as PC co-chair (with Randy Katz) of IWSOS 2007, hosted at Lancaster.

Kortuem

35. Program Co-chair, 2nd European Conference on Sensor Systems and Context (EuroSSC 2007).

Mariani

36. Associate Chair on the PC of the ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW’04).

Marshall

37. Royal Society Industry Fellowship, 2001-2003.

38. Member, BCS Distinguished Dissertation Award panel, since 2005.

Mathy

39. Member of the Steering Committee of CoNext: Conference on Future Networking Technologies, since its conception in 2005; also CoNext Award Chair since 2006. CoNext is ACM SIGCOMM sponsored.

40. PC Member, ACM SIGCOMM Conference 2007 (as one of only two U.K. representatives).

Mauthe

41. Editorial board member, ACM/Springer Multimedia Systems Journal.

Pink

42. Technical Editorial Board, IEEE Network, 2001-2002.

Race

43. Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher & Further Education in 2006 for “Connecting the Last Mile: the Largest Regional Rural Broadband Network for Education in Europe” (Race led the Wray Broadband Project contributing to the awarded networking initiative).

Rashid

44. Steering Committee Member, International Conference on Aspect-Oriented Software Development (AOSD), May 2006 onwards.

45. Program co-chair (with Hidehiko Masuhara), 5th International Conference on Aspect-Oriented Software Development (AOSD 2006), and PC member of AOSD in 2002 and 2005-2008.

46. Founding Co-editor-in-chief (with Mehmet Aksit, recently replaced by Harold Ossher) of Transactions on Aspect-Oriented Software Development, Springer (launched March 2004).

47. PC Member, European Conference on Object-Oriented Programming (ECOOP), 2007 and 2008.

Rayson – early career

48. Invited plenary speaker, 6th International Conference on Practical Applications in Language and Computers (PALC 2007). Lodz, Poland, April 2007.

49. Conference committee member, International Corpus Linguistics Conference, since its inception in 2001.

Roedig – early career

50. PC Member of EWSN 2007, European Conference on Wireless Sensor Networks.

Rouncefield

51. Microsoft Research Fellowship Award (one of only two awarded by Microsoft’s Fellowship programme in the whole of Europe in 2006).

52. Long-standing PC Membership (since 2001), European Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (ECSCW).

53. Associate Paper Chair on the PC CHI 2005 and 2006 (CHI is the premier conference in Human-Computer Interaction).

Rukzio – early career

54. Demonstrations Co-chair, 6th International Conference on Pervasive Computing (Pervasive 2008).

Salamatian

55. Area editor, IEEE Transactions on Information Theory (networking area).

56. Editor of ACM/Baltzer Wireless Networks (WINET), since 2005.

57. PC co-chair (with K. Almeroth), 2nd International Workshop On Wireless Network Measurement (WinMee 2006).

58. PC Member, ACM Internet Measurement Conference, 2002 and 2003.

Sas – early career

59. Conference Co-chair, BCS Human-Computer Interaction Conference (HCI 2007).

Sawyer

60. Program chair, International Working Conference on Requirements Engineering: Foundations of Software Quality (REFSQ’07).

61. PC member, 15th IEEE Requirements Engineering Conference 2007 (RE’07).

Scott

62. Received the First Windows Embedded Award for Academic Excellence by Bill Gates, Chairman and CEO, Microsoft Corporation, 2002. (Scott led the Mobile IPv6 project awarded).

Taïani – early career

63. PC Member, IEEE ICDCS’2007: International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems (in the dependability track).

Whittle

64. Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award (awarded July 2007).

65. Steering Committee Chair of the International Conference on Model-Driven Engineering Languages and Systems, and PC member of this conference since 2002.

66. Winner of the IEE Software Premium award for the paper “Scenario Modeling with Aspects” (co-authored with Joao Araujo).

67. Editorial Board, Journal of Software and Systems Modeling.