View the latest news from departments within the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Medicine below.
It is with great sadness that we report that Professor Roland Wilson passed away on 19 November 2019. He joined the Department of Computer Science as Senior Lecturer in 1985, becoming Reader in 1992 and Professor in 1999, serving as Head of Department from 2006 to 2009, and retiring to Emeritus Professor in 2010.
Professor Wilson was one of the world's foremost experts in image processing leading one of the UK's largest image processing groups, at the University of Warwick. He conducted image processing research at an international level for more than 30 years, publishing over 130 papers, and supervising over 20 PhD students to completion. He was jointly awarded the 1985 Pattern Recognition Society medal for best paper in the journal Pattern Recognition.
Roland was renowned for his deep knowledge and understanding of signal and image processing and information theory and was one of the earliest proponents for the idea of multiscale image analysis, an idea common place in modern artificial neural networks. This led to some break-through works in image representations, including spatial/spatial-frequency representations such as the multi-resolution wavelet transform (MFT) for which he and his many PhD students were able to show to have numerous useful applications from image restoration, object detection, image segmentation and music transcription. Many of his ideas developed from interests in the working of the human visual system and further inspired by his long and fruitful collaboration with colleagues from the University of Linkoping, Sweden, Gösta Grunland and Hans Knutsson. This had begun during a visit to Linkoping in the early 1980s.
At Warwick, Roland taught probability theory, digital signal processing (with colleagues from Engineering) and neural computing for many years. Even up to this day, his neural computing course (which he first taught in the early 1990s, way before of the current fashions in machine learning) continues to be hugely popular. On it he showed students not only the mathematics and principles of artificial neural networks, but also how it is understood our brains perform computation for perception and how memory works. Roland had a great passion for this subject and a unique and profound understanding of it, having read widely in neuroscience and neurophysiology. Over the years, he has been an inspirational teacher to many hundreds of Warwick computer science graduates.
In 2006 Roland co-founded a University spin-out tech company (Warwick Warp) to apply his ideas on image analysis to the challenging problem of fingerprint matching. He used his knowledge and ingenuity to solve the problem of fast and accurate fingerprint matching and this led to a set of novel methods. These were later patented and a software implementation was bench-marked in 2010, ranking in the world's top three commercial fingerprint matching solutions. The algorithm he devised are being used to this day for humanitarian work with the UNHCR and in a commercial setting for access-control at numerous construction sites in the UK. In 2010, he decided to take part-retirement and to focus more on commercial research, enjoying the challenge of the need to create practical solutions within the constraints of speed and data storage.
Roland was a wonderfully supportive father and grandfather and will be greatly missed by family, friends and colleagues. Our deep condolences are sent to his children Neil and Katy, and grandchildren, Robin, Sam, Charlie and Isla.
Colleagues and friends are invited to attend a celebration of Roland's life at Cannon Hill Chapel, Canley Crematorium, Friday 13 December at 10:30am.
Another election, another exit poll!
At the UK general election on 12 December the exit poll, which is commissioned jointly by broadcasters BBC, ITV and Sky, will again use the methods that were introduced in 2001 by Professor David Firth (in joint work with Professor John Curtice of the University of Strathclyde).
The new methods have led to renewed trust in exit polls, which since 2001 have been remarkably accurate in predicting House of Commons seat totals — a prediction made at 10pm on election day, immediately after polling stations close their doors.
David Firth says:
It's great to see the approach that I suggested and developed in 2001–2005 being used still in 2019. Its success is due mainly to purposeful statistical thinking in both the design and the analysis of the exit poll; and partly of course also to luck! But it could not succeed without, in addition, the work of a brilliant team of academics on the election day itself.
The election-day team analysing the 2019 exit poll will again be led by Sir John Curtice. The team's statistical expert has since 2010 been Professor Jouni Kuha (LSE) — a good friend of David Firth's since the 1990s. David says of this: "Perhaps the most remarkable thing, for me personally, is that Jouni can still manage to run the same R code that I threw together in haste before the 2005 election!"
For more information on the exit-poll method and its track record, see the Exit Poll Explainer page at warwick.ac.uk/exitpolling.
The first evidence of a giant planet orbiting a dead white dwarf star has been found in the form of a disc of gas formed from its evaporating atmosphere.
The Neptune-like planet orbits a star a quarter of its size about once every ten days, leaving a comet-like tail of gas comprised of hydrogen, oxygen and sulphur in its wake.
The discovery by astronomers from the University of Warwick’s Department of Physics and the Millennium Nucleus for Planet Formation (NPF) at the University of Valparaíso is published today (4 December) in the journal Nature. It is the first evidence of a giant planet orbiting a white dwarf star and suggests that there could be many more planets around such stars waiting to be discovered.
How sand fly mating habits are helping tackle tropical disease in £2.5M project
The tropical disease Leishmaniasis is being tackled by catching female sand flies who carry the parasite that causes the disease. Scientists led by Dr Orin Courtenay of Warwick University and Professor Gordon Hamilton of Lancaster University, developed the concept as part of a £2.5M project funded by The Wellcome Trust and published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.
Royal Academy of Engineering Fellowship awarded to Dr Wei He.
Professor Kerry Kirwan has been appointed as the new Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research) for Knowledge Exchange and Partnerships, for the University of Warwick.
Knowledge exchange, industry partnerships and innovation are key components of much of the University’s research, with Professor Kirwan appointed to support this growing area.
Kerry, a Professor at WMG is also a Director of the £11m EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Materials and Manufacturing (EngD), Strategic Director of the £10m Industrial Doctorate Centre and Head of WMG’s Sustainable Materials and Manufacturing Research Group. He also sits on the University’s Research Executive Group.
Professor Kirwan is actively involved in the newly emerging Knowledge Exchange Framework programme, Monash-Warwick Alliance, Warwick in Europe, the Global Challenges Research Fund, Midlands Innovation, Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) and the Innovative Manufacturing and Future Materials GRP.
Speaking about his new appointment, Professor Kirwan said: “I am delighted to take up this position and very much look forward to continuing to work with the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research to ensure we continue to grow our knowledge exchange, innovation and business and industry partnerships, and ultimately advance the outstanding research achievements of the University.”
Professor Pam Thomas, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research), commented: “Professor Kirwan will play a critical role and his skills and experience will be instrumental in furthering the development of Warwick as a leading research-intensive University with strong industry partnerships – locally, nationally and globally.”
We are sorry to report that Professor Elmer Rees, from the first cohort of PhD students in Warwick, died on 4th October 2019.
The Division of Biomedical Sciences are now signatories to @DORAssessment - we are working to develop and promote best practice in the assessment of scholarly research.
Congratulations to Professor Dieter Wolke@PretermWarwick who is in the 0.1% of most highly cited scientists in the world by @webofscience
Each year, the Web of Science Group identifies the world’s most influential researchers. The select few who have been most frequently cited by their peers over the last decade. In 2019, fewer than 6,300, or 0.1%, of the world’s researchers, across 21 research fields, have earned this exclusive distinction.
Professor Dieter Wolke is among this elite group recognized for his exceptional research influence, demonstrated by the production of multiple highly-cited papers that rank in the top 1% by citations for field and year (Cross-Field) in Web of Science.