Professor Richard Everson

Grand Challenges Academic Lead

Engaging students with contemporary issues

Name Professor Richard Everson


Professor of Machine Learning in Computer Science

College College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences

Engaging students with Grand Challenges

Richard Everson is Professor of Machine Learning in Computer Science. His research focuses on the ways that machines interpret and predict data, during a time where the amount of data available to us is at an all-time high.

Richard is also Lead Academic for Digital Society: Connected or Isolated, a current Grand Challenge. This project explores the ways that changing digital technologies are shaping our society. Richard explains that “it’s about the students facing the realities of the digital society we live in; the opportunities and the challenges, including the fact that we are available all the time digitally yet maybe not personally.”

“Everything is connected across the whole world. It’s as easy for me to talk to somebody in New Zealand as it is to talk to somebody in New York, and probably easier than it is to talk to somebody in Honiton, just up the road… the world has compressed.”

“It also brings all sorts of challenges, as well as connecting people together; we worry about people being isolated. People spend all their time looking at their mobile phones… and not actually interacting with real people". Richard also highlights the contemporary global issue of "the era of electronic warfare... we’ve seen Sony bullied into not presenting a film and we’ve seen cyber-attacks… The challenge [now is to] to learn how to negotiate that”.

Multi-disciplinary learning to tackle global challenges

Digital Sociey involves many different topics and inquiry groups, with students across multiple disciplines. In one of the projects, Richard hopes the students will be able to create a large barcode (50mx50m) as an art installation, “in the grass, which will then exist in the grass for a few weeks until the grass regrows, at which point it will fade away... there’s a whole variety of things that students can engage in.”

Grand Challenges brings together students from across different disciplines. Richard explains that “for [multi-disciplinary learning] to be effective, what you need is somebody who is at least a bit of an expert in their own discipline... and has the ability and the confidence to bring their expertise in their own discipline to a multi-disciplinary arena, where they can interact with other people who are also confident in their own disciplines.”

Aim 1: Talented, Active, Engaged Students

To increase levels of student engagement with their academic studies

Multi-disciplinary learning in Grand Challenges

"Grand Challenges is... a way for students to engage with other students and big ideas"

Challenging contemporary issues

“There are lots of different aspects of the Digital Society, which [the students] can explore”