Steven Bishop is a Professor of Mathematics at UCL where he has remained since arriving in 1984 as a post-doctoral researcher. He has published around 200 academic papers, edited books and has had appearances on television and radio. Historically his research investigated topics such as chaos theory, reducing vibrations of engineering structures and how sand dunes are formed, but has more recently considered the implications of big data and used his modelling skills to capture the dynamics of social systems. He previously held a prestigious 'Dream' Fellowship funded by the UK research council EPSRC allowing him to consider creative ways to arrive at scientific narratives.
He was influential in the formation of a European network of physical and social scientists in order to investigate how decision support systems can be developed to assist policy makers and, to drive this, has organised conferences and art events in the UK and European Parliaments. He has been involved in several European Commission funded projects and has helped to forge a research agenda which looks at behaviour of systems that cross policy. His current research students collect data to study patterns in social behaviour such as human migration, crime and car accidents.
The main area of Steven's research will involve activities on the city scale adding to theme of urban analytics. His research aims to establish the obvious or subtle relationship between different, possibly seemingly disconnected social issues that may, nonetheless, have serious consequences. For instance, conflict or crime and the fear of crime have caused the displacement of millions of people around the world and so keeping track of changes in behaviour is important. Furthermore, the spread of misinformation can create echo chambers which, once started, are difficult to change, leading to prejudice and segregation.
Building on expertise in mathematical modelling, the Fellowship hopes to create mathematical narratives of urban dynamics based on models for the complex behaviour of individuals and the emergence of social patterns. Three different types of data will be considered: firstly, information about the city (such as transportation networks); secondly, population-based data (such as population density); and finally, social data (such as media and social media). This will allow modelling parameters to be benchmarked and the models tested and then used to forecast trends. The quantitative models will thus provide a window into social implications and create tools for policy-making. But it is not all equations and data.
He will establish a variety of creative outputs which go beyond the usual scientific journal articles by considering how art can facilitate a better understanding of scientific advances, which may prove especially useful in the policy-making arena.
Achievements and awards
Steven received a D.Sc in Mathematics in 2001 and was Elected Foreign Member of the Estonian Academy of Sciences December 2012