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The Unit has invested significantly in the development of its early-career researchers community and the cohort has grown significantly over the current REF period. Take a look at the showcase below to find out more about some of our early-career researchers and their work. 


Opeyemi Dele-AjayiOpeyemi Dele-Ajayi

Opeyemi is a Lecturer in the department of Computer and Information Sciences at Northumbria University. His research interests include EdTech, digital literacy, digital citizenship, and user-centred design. His research specifically looks at the role of technology in enhancing learning and teaching especially in developing countries and how technology can be used to prepare young people for the future of work and education. Between 2018 and 2020, he led the World Bank DIGISTEM project that reached over 10,000 young people with STEM and digital skills in Nigeria. He is currently the lead researcher on the Basic Digital Education Initiative of Tech4Dev and sponsored by Microsoft. The project is the largest basic digital literacy project in Africa, set to reach 500,000 young people with basic digital education. Opeyemi’s research has contributed to Education and Technology policy in a number of developing countries. He is a research and policy adviser to Ekiti State Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in Nigeria. He is also a technical advisor on Digital Citizenship to the FCDO in Kenya and a member of the EdTech Specialist network of the EdTechHub through which he provides EdTech technical advice to Governments in Kenya, Nigeria and Pakistan.  


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Photo of Andy DowDr Andy Dow

Andy is a computer science lecturer and researcher in the field of HCI (Human-Computer Interaction) interested in the design, implementation and in-the-wild evaluation of digital systems that capture the voice, opinions and experiences of people who use community support services. As an ECR working in the emerging area of Digital Civics, Andy is passionate about how we can make design research more inclusive and ensure that digital technology innovation is empowering for all citizens across our diverse society. His work has led to the co-creation and deployment of bespoke digital tools in collaboration with community partners to capture the voices of those often excluded from consultation about the design and delivery of public services that are important to them. Going forward, Andy's research aims to explore, with citizens and public sector organisations, how technology can foster participation in public services while collaboratively setting the agenda for future research and innovation.



Dirk van der LindenDirk van de Linden 

Dirk joined Northumbria’s NorSC Lab as a Lecturer in 2020, having worked in academia across the UK, EU, and Israel. His research spans animal-computer interaction, requirements engineering, and cyberpsychology. His research focuses on understanding how people build and use technology for animals (like pet wearables, automatic feeders, or even dairy farming automation), especially when they give rise to interspecies information systems that inform humans how to understand and act towards animals. Dirk co-founded the Tech4Animals Lab, an international multi-disciplinary research team developing and studying technologies for animal science, welfare, wellbeing and the human-animal relationship, where we collaborate on these topics with an ever-growing set of academic and industrial partners. Dirk is heavily involved with the growing Animal-Computer Interaction community, organising new events and helping organise and steer the International Conference on Animal-Computer Interaction, and the International Summer School on Animal-Centered Computing.



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Zeyneb KurtDr Zeyneb Kurt

Zeyneb's research interests focus on machine learning, bioinformatics, and computational biology. Despite having degrees in computer science, her post-doctoral and further career headed towards studying complex human diseases by using machine learning methods and by integrating multi-dimensional big-biological datasets. During her post-doctoral career (2015-2018), Zeyneb was awarded with two postdoctoral fellowships: American Heart Association (US$110,000, 2 years) and UCLA Iris Cantor/Women’s Health Center Fellowship (US$20,000). As a lecturer, she is more interested in cancer research. For instance, she co-supervises a PhD student who aims to use deep neural networks to predict sub-types in a colon-cancer cohort by integrating pathological image and functional genomics datasets. Additionally, she is collaborating with various cancer laboratories:

  • Dr.Ashiq Masood from Rush University, USA for redefining colorectal cancer classification system based on single-cell sequencing analysis.
  • Dr.Sukru Ozturk from Istanbul University, Turkey, to predict circular-RNA candidates that regulate clinical-stratification in breast cancer.



Dr Marta E. Cecchinato

With a background in Psychology and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Marta joined Northumbria University in 2018, after completing her PhD at UCL. Marta's research focuses on understanding the complexities of living digitally and how digital experiences can be shaped to better support our wellbeing. In particular, she focuses on rethinking wellbeing support around the future of work, including for gig workers and more traditional workers. Her research on work and personal email management and on the need for worker-centred gig platforms has won Best Paper awards in the top HCI venue (ACM SIGCHI, top 1%) in 2016 and 2021, respectively. Findings from her work have also contributed to written UK Parliamentary evidence around wellbeing and productivity. Besides publishing in HCI, Marta recently published chapters in the Oxford Handbook of Digital Technology and Society and in the Pluto Press’ Augmented Exploitation: AI, Automation and Work. Her work has also been featured in the New Scientist.



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Dr Shanfeng Hu

Shanfeng joined Northumbria University as a Lecturer in June 2020. Before that, he was doing his PhD at Northumbria since October 2016, as funded by the gLINK Erasmus Mundus scholarship. During his PhD, he worked as a Senior Data Scientist, delivering quantitative finance solutions using machine learning. Shanfeng's research focuses on causality discovery and causal inference for machine learning, with the goal of redesigning neural networks to work in small data regimes and changing domains, thereby achieving broad generalization. He is also working on new mathematical principles and empirical methods to understand the decision-making process of neural networks. Applying causal machine learning to real-world processes (e.g., supply chains, healthcare) attracts him too - part of his work is funded by Innovate UK. Shanfeng is running Northumbria Kagglers Club and Advanced AI Series Club in the student & staff community, hosting regular machine learning competitions and offering state-of-the-art AI tutorials respectively.


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Joseph W. Newbold

Joseph is a HCI and audio researcher with interests in sonic interaction design, digital health and wellbeing. He was previously a research fellow at the UCL Interaction Centre, exploring musical displays to reduce sedentary behaviour for office workers, and a member of the GetaMoveOn fellowship program. He gained his PhD at the UCL Interaction Centre investigating how the implicitly understood and embodied aspects of music can be used in sonifications for physical activity to directly modify body behaviour. Joseph has a MEng in Electronic Engineering with Music Technology Systems from the University of York. Since July 2020, he has been a Lecturer in Computer and information sciences at Northumbria University and is working on a variety of research projects surrounding behaviour change, remote working practices and how we can use music to support our design of technology.


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