Data Intensive Science and Particle Accelerators: Driving Science and Innovation

Liverpool Physics awarded £1.3M for new STFC data science training centre


Image credit: University of Liverpool

Particle accelerators and light sources are some of the largest, most data intensive, and most complex scientific systems. The connections and relations between machine subsystems are complicated and often nonlinear with system dynamics involving large parameter spaces that evolve over multiple relevant time scales and accelerator systems. Data Intensive Science offers exciting prospects for accelerator design and operation. This includes the optimisation of machine design and the reconstruction of transverse beam distributions using machine learning, as well as data analysis in high data rate monitors.

The University of Liverpool, in partnership with Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), are to host a new £1.3 million Centre for Doctoral Training providing comprehensive postgraduate training in data intensive science.

The new Centre for Doctoral Training for Innovation in Data Intensive Science (LIV.INNO) is funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and supported by a consortium of world-class partners including the Hartree Centre, CERN and Fermilab.

LIV.INNO builds on previous postgraduate training initiatives led by the Department of Physics, in particular the highly successful centre LIV.DAT which both universities have hosted since 2016.

LIV.INNO will be an inclusive hub for training diverse cohorts of excellent students in data intensive science. It will provide targeted training to meet a growing skills gap in this research area which has seen a dramatic increase in many fields of science and engineering, due to the advancement of sensors, mobile devices, biotechnology, digital communication, and internet applications.

Caption: Participants at the LIV.INNO Kick-off Meeting in Liverpool, UK. (Image credit: University of Liverpool)

The Director of the Centre, Professor Carsten P Welsch, who is Head of the University of Liverpool’s Department of Physics and Head of Communications at the Cockcroft Institute, said: “Our new centre will offer dozens of PhD students comprehensive training in data intensive science through cutting edge interdisciplinary research projects and a targeted academic training programme. This will be complemented by secondments to national and international research partners and strong industry contributions. This framework will be an ideal basis for driving science and innovation, as well as boosting the employability of our students.”

Deputy Director Dr Andreea Font from LJMU added: “LJMU and the University of Liverpool have been collaborating very successfully for many years. We are delivering the only joint physics degree programme in the UK, and our previous centre, LIV.DAT, has delivered excellent research results with highly employable students. LIV.INNO will now take our training to the next level and focus on driving innovation through data science research.”

The new centre is well-connected into digital research at both universities and links the Departments of Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science at the University of Liverpool with experts from the Astrophysics Research Institute (ARI) at LJMU. Amongst others, LIV.INNO will benefit from Liverpool’s Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC), the strategic partnership with STFC Daresbury, as well as the new £12M Digital Innovation Facility (DIF).

Professor Grahame Blair, STFC Executive Director of Programmes, said: “Big data is the linchpin of big science. This funding will bring on the next generation of data science experts, to ensure the UK research and innovation sector continues to thrive. When processing and analysing huge quantities of data, a vital step on the road to scientific discoveries, scientists gain invaluable skills which could also help with industrial and societal challenges.”

Over its lifetime, LIV.INNO will offer a wide-ranging training programme consisting of workshops, international schools and conferences, as well as events for the general public.

Further information about LIV.INNO and the PhD positions available this year can be found at this webpage:

A film summarising the aims of the centre can be found on YouTube: