Workshops & Retreats

We have supported our members in developing data science research, providing financial support to enable collaboration with colleagues in industry and other educational institutions both at home and from overseas.

Data Driven approaches to communicating flooding

More than 50 citizens, data and environmental scientists, journalists, and educators from Thailand to the United States gathered for UK Underwater 2020, a virtual workshop through the Data Science Institute.

The workshop was related to flooding analysis and reporting when scientists and communicators are challenged to express the science and solutions surrounding increasingly widespread and dangerous flooding in the UK. Keynotes included Dr Juliet Pinto of Penn State, an expert in science communication, David Caswell, the lead of BBC News Labs, which is using AI in reporting flooding. 

Other speakers focused on data visualisation, the use of drones to capture flooding damage and risk, and the role of data in creating a collaboration across the UK to tell digital stories about flood risk, inequalities related to flooding, and solutions in infrastructure and social strains of environmental change.

"All topics at the workshop were very relevant for the project I have been leading to increase flood risk awareness," said one participant in a follow-up survey. "This is really exciting."

UK Underwater 2020 was hosted by Dr Robert (Ted) Gutsche, Jr., Senior Lecturer in Critical Digital Media Practice in Lancaster's Department of Sociology with the assistance of DSI coordinator Julia Carradus and Media and Cultural Studies PhD Student Carolina Estrada. 

The effort now is to form a collaboration surrounding these issues and the goals below for public-facing efforts across the UK related to communicating data and environmental science, and storytelling about flooding, the causes for environmental change, and possible solutions to reduce risk.

Videos from the workshop will appear soon on the project website. Please also reach out with interest to

Flooding in York in 2015
Radiography image
Radiography image

Machine Learning and Radiography for Head and Neck Cancer

On the 10th March a group of medical professionals and researchers from across the country met to discuss Radiotherapy and Machine Learning (ML) for Head and Neck (H&N) Cancer. Talks included: “The ongoing dialogue: how to combine data research with clinical practice”, “Manchester Radiotherapy ML Network: thoughts, feedback and potential research areas”,  “Life as an NHS Data Scientist” and “Managing academic and medical expectations of data science research – A view from industry”. The workshop aimed to provide clinicians with a broad overview of ML and data science tools that could be applied and to give researchers a better understanding of the clinical perspective.  Around 20 participants discussed the pains of obtaining NHS data, attempted to predict the survival rate of H&N patients from open source data and learnt why Northwest Cancer Research were keen to keep funding research in this area.

The workshop was funded by the Quality-Related Strategic Priorities Funding and supported by DSI. 

Emma Stubington

Further information about the workshop 

Activism, Storytelling and Data Science

In January 2020 40 people including academics, activists, storytellers and data scientists from the UK and internationally came together to explore the relationships between data, story and social change. The Activism by the Numbers retreat was a wonderful opportunity for a diverse group of people to share their research, experience and ideas. Participants explored how to find data to bring about positive change, how to make sense of data and stories relating to activism, as well as considering how to make data easier to access and use, and how people with expertise in data, activism and story can collaborate. The event instantiated a network of people who are now working on new ideas and collaborations for a fascinating range of projects and initiatives.

For more information please visit Remembering Resistance,


Extreme Ocean Waves Workshop

In September 2019, a three-day workshop, led by Professor Phil Jonathan, Chair in Environmental Statistics and Data Science with Jenny Wadsworth, Maths and Stats - took place in the Postgrad Statistics Centre at Lancaster University. The aim of the workshop was to bring together mathematicians, statisticians, oceanorgraphers and ocean engineers studying extreme ocean waze phenomena.

Topics included experimental studies, and mathematical and statistical modelling of individual extreme wave events and interactions, extreme value analysis of ocean storms in space and time, and engineering impact of improved characterisation of extreme ocean environments.

Further information about the day, including slides and talk abstracts can be on the workshop's website.

Machine Learning and Genomics

In June 2019, a Machine Learning and Genomics workshop took place. Around 60 people came to the 2 day DSI workshop at Forrest Hills.  Speakers presented on topics ranging from methods to provide alerts in intensive care through to methods to detect DNA sequencing errors. About 50 people attended – the vast majority from outside Lancaster University with representations from companies including Microsoft and GSK. The second day doubled as a meeting of the North of England Genetic Epidemiology Group (NEGEG).

This event was organised by Dr Frank Dondelinger, Lecturer in Biostatistics - Professor Joanne Knight, Chair in Applied Data Science and Tom Palmer, Lecturer in Statistics



dna helix
royal courts classical building

Administrative Data Research and the Real World

In June 2019 DSI supported an early career workshop held alongside our Distinguished Speaker event. About 50 people attend a talk on The Value of Administrative Data for the Family Justice System given by Professor Anna Vignoles and Judge Carol Atkinson. Both talks were extremely interesting and provoked a number of questions and conversions about the value of research data and its effects of influencing social policy and decision making. This event was hosted by Professor Karen Broadhurst and Dr Linda Cusworth and was held in the Charles Carter Building at Lancaster University.

Big Data in the Geosciences

In June 2019, a 2-day workshop on the use of big data and data science across geophysical applications from the depths of our oceans to the boundaries of outer space, and everything in between including the atmosphere and cryosphere.  Around 50 academics and scientists came to hear talks from a range of speakers including Professor Sandra Chapman, University of Warwick, Dr Ben Booth, UK Met Office and Dr Neil Massey, STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. The workshop included interactive working sessions and a poster competition.  The event was organised by Dr Adam Sykulski, Paul Young and Dr Amber Leeson.



natural landscape

Data Driven Systems Retreat

In May 2019, the Data Sciecne Institute organised a 2-day workshop at Low Wood, Windermere.  Led by Professor Tracy Hall (SCC) along with other Lancaster academics from a range of backgrounds, Phd students, lecturers and senior academics were invited to explore Data Driven Resilient Systems.



typing at keyboard
typing at keyboard

Stories and Mental Health Retreat

In December 2018 a 2-day workshop was held at the Low Wood, Windermere and brought together 26 Lancaster academics, from across many disciplines, to discuss the area of story telling, mental health and adolecence. Academics were invited from Linguistics, Health, Psychology and Computing.



The Next Generation of Surrogate Modelling in Environmental Science

This workshop will discuss the implementation of novel statistical methods (e.g. multivariate emulators) to improve the computational efficiency of complex environmental models.

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woman looking of window

Monitoring Parkinson's Symptoms and regaining control through IoT

A 2-day workshop was held at Lancaster House Hotel made up of 24 attendees with a wide range of backgrounds including clinical, lived experience of Parkinson's, third sector, HCI, data science, and software and hardware engineering.

Emergent and Self Adaptive Systems workshop

As part of DSI’s Fundamentals Theme we held a two-day workshop on Emergent and Adaptive Systems: Theory and Practice.  The workshop attracted almost 50 attendees from these disciplines, for research talks, panel sessions, posters and a future thinking session.

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International Glaciological Society British Branch Meeting 2017

This year’s IGS British Branch meeting was hosted by Lancaster Environment Centre in association with the Data Science Institute at Lancaster University.

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