Published: 10 April 2018

Head of Department outlines key opportunities in big data and 5G

Meteorology expert Professor Ian Roulstone has an exciting vision for the Department in both research and teaching.

Ian Roulstone

Head of Surrey’s Department of Mathematics since 2015, Professor Roulstone first joined the University 14 years ago, having previously spent 15 years with the government’s Met Office, latterly leading a joint research centre with the University of Reading.

This experience gave Professor Roulstone a network of contacts across bodies such as EPSRC (the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, NERC (the Natural Environment Research Council) and the Environment Aid Agency, which have proved very useful since coming to Surrey.

He explains: “The landscape of research is changing, with Research Councils starting to award substantial sums of money to collaborative projects with large societal impact. It’s essential that we are part of a strong research network.”

Professor Roulstone believes that ‘big data’ is one of the fields where Surrey can make a significant contribution.

“We can play a key role at the interface between data modelling and prediction,” he says. “All too often people come up with a paradigm and use it as a basis for furthering science, but it’s important to define the most relevant variables. We’ve long been known for our dynamical systems theory and are therefore well-placed to help policy makers make better use of data modelling systems.”

This is an important area of expertise in the development of 5G, which is obviously an area close to Surrey’s heart. The University’s 5G Innovation Centre is the largest UK academic research centre dedicated to the development of the next generation of mobile and wireless communications.

Professor Roulstone’s vision for the Department of Mathematics is to continue growing student numbers, increase collaboration with other disciplines, and focus research efforts on key areas where the Department excels.

He is keen to support the Department’s talented young academic team, recognising that they will be shaping the future of mathematics at Surrey. With researchers facing increasing pressures today in terms of teaching and administration, he believes that it is vital to ring-fence research time in order to enable these academics to submit grant applications and fulfil research grants won.

He is also dedicated to maintaining the high standards of teaching and learning within Surrey’s Department of Mathematics. Mathematics at Surrey was ranked fourth in the UK in the Guardian University Guide 2018 and achieved 90 per cent overall student satisfaction in the National Student Survey 2017.

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