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Stephen Emmott

Stephen Emmott


I am head of Microsoft's Computational Science research.  I lead an international, inter-disciplinary research programme, centred around Microsoft's Computational Science Laboratory, based in Cambridge.
Our goal is to make, enable and accelerate advances in science in areas of societal importance.  To achieve this goal, we've established a new kind of laboratory, and created a unique team of new kinds of scientists, developing new kinds of computational approaches and scientific (software) tools, to do new kinds of science to tackle some fundamental problems in science. 

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 2003 to lead Microsoft’s research in computational science, 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 Dinstinguished 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. 

I am also passionate about producing a new generation of scientists, who can become tomorrow's scientific leaders and discoverers. 
"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., Parker, M.A., Emmott, S., & Chin, A.W (2013). An efficient biologically-inspired photocell enhanced by quantum coherence (Submited).

Dunn, S., Phillips, A., & Emmott, S. (2013). Life as Computation. (In review, Cell).

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. (submitted, PLoS Biology).

Emmott, S. (2013). Population, climate change, and public health. British Medical Journal (invited paper to appear).

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 (To Appear).

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