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Stephen Emmott

Stephen Emmott


I am head of Computational Science at Microsoft.  I lead an international, inter-disciplinary research programme, centred around The Computational Science Laboratory, Microsoft Research, Cambridge.
The goal of my Laboratory is to pioneer new kinds of science to address important societal problems.  To achieve this I established a new kind of laboratory, built a unique team of new kinds of scientists, which is at the forefront of developing new kinds of computational methods and tools. 


Brief Biography

I gained a B.Sc in biological science (Exp.Psych) at the University of York, and a PhD. in computational neuroscience, under Roger Watt, at the Centre for Cognitive & Computational Neuroscience, University of Stirling.  I spent three years at AT&T Bell Laboratories in the USA.  At the age of 36 I established and led, as Chief Scientist, NCR Corporation's Advanced Research Lab. I  took up my current position in 2004, establishing the Computational Science Laboratory and Research Units of collaborating groups and scientists worldwide. 
In 2004 I was appointed to the UK Government’s 10 Year Science & Innovation Strategy Committee.  In 2005 I was appointed as scientific advisor to the Chancellor of the Exchequer (to 2010). In 2008 I was appointed to the Finnish Ministerial Science Strategy Committee.   In 2009 I was appointed by the UK Science Minister as a Trustee of The National Endowment for Science, Technology & the Arts.   I am Visiting Professor of Biological Computation at University College London, Visiting Professor of Computational Science at the University of Oxford, and a Distinguished Fellow of The National Endowment for Science, Technology & the Arts.

Research Interests

I am interested, fundamentally, in better understanding nature, from biochemistry to the brain to the biosphere, and in the development of a new framework --new ways of thinking, a new language, new kinds of computational methods, models and tools -- for forming the foundations of a 'new kind' of natural science: a precise, predictive science of complex living systems integrating new theory, models and data.   Advancing such a science will, in my view, be fundamental to our ability to address this century's most important and pressing challenges, and equally, will form the foundations of fundamental advances in computing, energy, materials, agriculture and medicine.  
"It's only by reaching for the impossible do you find out what's possible." (Weber)
"The formulation of a problem is often more important than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill.  To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination, and marks real advance in science." (Einstein & Infeld, 1937)
"A scientist should be judged not by his (papers) prizes or other honours bestowed upon him, but by the quality of the people he has helped to produce. Let these works speak for themselves." (Brenner, 2001)

Selected Recent Publications 

Creatore, C., Chin, A.W., Parker, M.A., & Emmott, S (2015). Emergent Models for Artificial Light-Harvesting. Frontiers in Materials, 2:6. doi: 10.3389/fmats.2015.00006

Smith, M.J., Emmott, S., Purves, D., Joppa, L.J, & Lyutsarev, V (2014). Joined-up Planetary Information, in the Cloud and on Devices, American Geophysical Union Annual General Meeting 15 December 2014.

Dunn, SJ., Martello, G., Yordanov, B., Emmott, S., & Smith, A.G. (2014). Defining an essential transcription factor program for naïve pluripotency. Science, 344, pp. 1156-1160.

Creatore, C., Parker, M.A., Emmott, S., & Chin, A.W (2013). An efficient biologically-inspired photocell enhanced by quantum coherence, Physical Review Letters 111 (25), 253601

Harfoot, M. B. J., Newbold T., Tittensor, D.P., Emmott, S., Hutton, J., Lyutsarev, V., Smith, M. J., Scharlemann, J. P. W., Purves, D. W. (2013). Emerging global patterns of ecosystem structure and function from a mechanistic General Ecosystem Model.  PLoS Biol, 12 (4), e1001841

Evans, M., Benton, T. G., Bithell, M., Cornell, S., Dall, S., Emmott, S., Ernande, B., Grimm, V., Hodgson, D. J., Lewis, S.L., Mace, G., Morecroft, M., Moustakas, A., Murphy, E., Newbold, T., Petchey, O., Smith M.J., & Travis, J. (2013). Predictive Systems Ecology. Phil. Trans. R.Soc. London

S. Emmott (2013). Ten Billion. Penguin Press

Joppa, L.N., McInerny, G., Harper. R., Salido, L., Takeda, K., O’Hara, K., Gavaghan, D., & Emmott, S (2013). Troubling Trends in Scientific Software Use. Science, 340, pp. 814-815. doi: 10.1126/science.1231535

Purves, D.W., Scharlemann, J., Harfoot, M., Newbold, T., Tittensor, D., Hutton, J., & Emmott, S. (2013). Time to model all Life on Earth. Nature, 493, pp.295-297.

Yordanov, B., Dalchau, N., Grant, P., Hasselhof, J., Emmott, S., Phillips, A. (2013). Automated ratiometric characterization of biological function using GEC. International Workshop on Bio-Design Automation, 13.

Smith, M.J., Purves, D.W., Vanderwel, M., Lyutsarev, V., & Emmott, S. (2013). The climate dependence of the terrestrial carbon cycle, including parameter and structural uncertainties, Biogeosciences, (10), pp. 583-606

Smith, M.J., Vanderwel, M., Lyutsarev, V., Emmott, S., & Purves, D.W. (2013). The climate dependence of the terrestrial carbon cycle; including parameter and structural uncertainties. Biogeosciences Discussions, (9), pp. 13439-13496.

Dalchau, N., Smith, M.J., Martin, S., Brown, J., Emmott, S., & Phillips, A. (2012). Towards the rational design of synthetic cells with prescribed population dynamics, Journal of the Royal Society Interface, (9), pp. 2883-2898.

M. J. Smith, D. W. Purves, M. C. Vanderwel, V. Lyutsarev, and S. Emmott. (2012). Towards accounting for all known sources of uncertainty in earth system models: fully data-constraining a global terrestrial carbon model, European Geophysical Union Annual Congress, Vienna, 22-27th April.

Lakin. M. L., Youssef, S., Polo, F., Emmott, S., & Phillips, A. (2011). Visual DSD: A design and analysis tool for DNA strand displacement systems. Bioinformatics, October 7, 2011 doi:10.1093/bioinformatics/btr543

Dalchau, N., Phillips, A., Goldstein, L.D., Howarth, M., Cardelli, L., Emmott, S., Elliott, T. & Werner, J. M. (2011). A Peptide Filtering Relation Quantifies MHC Class I Peptide Optimization, PLoS Comput Biol 7(10): e1002144. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002144

Setty Y., Chen, C.C., Secrier. M., Skoblov, D., Kalamatianos, D., & Emmott, S. (2011). How Neurons Migrate: A Dynamic In-Silico Model of Neuronal Migration in the Developing Cortex. BMC Systems Biology, 5:154

Smith, M., Purves, D., Vanderwel, M., Lyutsarev, V. & Emmott, S (2011). A Fully Data-Constrained Benchmark Global Vegetation Model for Identifying Priority Sources of Uncertainty and Facilitating Rapid Model Refinement, American Geophysical Union Symposium, San Francisco 2011.




Ten Billion is a book about us.   Its message is simple: We are in trouble, and failing to do anything about it.   Ten Billion is a manifesto against complacency.  More