Distinguished Seminar Series

The School's Distinguished Seminar Series brings leading thinkers in computing and communications to Lancaster to share their cutting edge research.

All are welcome to join us for the seminars, which take place throughout the academic year.

Summer 2017

Mark Harman

Professor of Software Engineering, University College London


Wednesday 8th February 2017

Angela Sasse

Professor of Human-Centered Security, University College London


In 1999, Whitten & Tygar's "Why Johnny can't encrypt" identified a number of usability issues, and argued that these prevented non-expert users to use encryption correctly.  In this talk, I will discuss to what extent these usability issues have been addressed by current tools.  I will then present results from a study with 60 (mostly lapsed) users of secure messaging tools (such as Signal, Telegram and Threema) to explain that usability is only one of 3 classes of problems that stop people from using those tools - the other two categories being lack of utility, and fundamental misconceptions about the nature of threats, and how encryption safeguards against them.  Based on these results, I will discuss how we can increase the utility of secure tools, and what types of communications/campaigns could transform the misconceptions.

Wednesday 7th December 2016

Julie McCann

Professor of Computer Systems, Imperial College London


In Neal Stephenson's award-winning novel, The Diamond age, he describes programmable nanotechnology that can collaborate and form things. Today we have chirping, self-organising, adaptive and intelligent tiny computers are beginning to enter both the market and people’s homes, performing various monitoring and control duties. From Google’s self-drive cars to the walls of modern office blocks, these simple devices are talking to each other in highly intelligent ways, mimicking the collective behaviour of insect colonies to overcome individual failures or changes in the local environment. After a decade as an academic pursuit, there is now a strong belief that these could enable whole new programmable architectures, where processing power is pushed out to these small devices in the field. But are we getting ahead of ourselves? Whilst the technology advances, underlying research into their behaviours, security, reliability and resistance to failure mustn’t be left behind. In this talk, Julie McCann will introduce some of her work in this field and discuss the possibility of a technological trajectory towards the aforementioned Diamond Age.

Wednesday 9th November 2016

Cecilia Mascolo


In this talk, I plan to give an overview of my group’s research. I will start by describing our work on urban analytics through geosocial network analysis using multilayer complex network theory. I will then move on illustrating contributions on mobile health using mobile sensing with examples in mood tracking and smoke cessation interventions. I will finish with a system component where we show our effort in studying on to fit mobile sensing inference on devices and how we are able to exploit local device heterogeneous computation resources efficiently. I will discuss challenges and opportunities of the field throughout the talk.

Tuesday 6th September 2016

Jose Principe

Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Biomedical Engineering, University of Florida

Toward Cognitive Integration of Prosthetic Devices

We are at the brink of a revolutionary technology stage, where machines may be “cognitively integrated” in the human experience, manipulated and controlled through direct brain processes in virtually the same way as we see, walk or grab an external object. But unlike the current generation of brain-machine interfaces, this is done through a dialogue that requires the transfer of goals between the machine and the user. The vision is a new kind of implanted prosthetics that senses intentional brain processes (e.g. moving an arm) and translates the spatio-temporal neural signals into models that control external devices. Through the perception-action-reward cycle the brain is made aware of the machine existence and actions, which will provide the basis to be considered a body extension. Several key technological and scientific developments will be discussed to implement this vision.