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Profile: Professor Advaith Siddharthan

Professor Advaith Siddharthan

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Professor Advaith Siddharthan's OpenLearn Profile

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Profile: Professor Advaith Siddharthan

Professor Advaith Siddharthan

About me

Advaith reads Physics at the University of Delhi, and Computer Science at the University of Cambridge before gaining his PhD in Computational Linguistics at the University of Cambridge (2003). After Postdoctoral research at Columbia University and the University of Cambridge, he took up his first faculty position at the University of Aberdeen in 2009 before joining the Open University’s Knowledge Media Institute in 2017 as a Reader. He has over 80 peer-reviewed publications and has been PI on grants from the EPSRC, NERC and ESRC and Co-I on grants from EPSRC, H2020, National Geographic and NERC. He currently works on several research projects developing technologies for biodiversity citizen science, while continuing to dabble in disparate topics in Computational Linguistics. 

Research interests

His research intersects Citizen Science, Artificial Intelligence and Data Science, facilitating societal access to information by mining, simplifying and summarising complex texts and by communicating data through language. He develops socially responsible AI technologies that bridge the divide between professional scientists and lay public, facilitate meaningful public engagement with science and foster attitudinal and behavioural change, particularly around biodiversity issues. He is the academic lead for three citizen science projects at the OU:

iSpotNature.org

XPollination.org

PlantingForPollinators.org

Advaith's current research investigates science learning within such citizen science projects, especially how citizens can learn alongside artificial intelligence from data. More details of his projects can be found at the Citizen Science and Artificial Intelligence group pages or on his personal webpages.

Impact and engagement

Current projects integrate citizen science learning around pollinators into school curricula in the UK and Italy, collecting and analysing data while encouraging schools and students to create habitats and act as pollinator advocates in society. This research is referenced in the UKRI public engagement strategy document and was showcased during Bees’ Needs Week 2020, a public engagement event coordinated by DEFRA.

He previously led the development of novel technologies aimed at public engagement with nature conservation schemes, co-created in partnership with leading UK charities, the Royal Society for Protection of Birds, Bumblebee Conservation Trust and Royal Horticultural Society. Two projects, Blogging Birds (redkite.abdn.ac.uk) and BeeWatch (beewatch.abdn.ac.uk) were among the 8 selected to feature in the RCUK impact summary report for its Digital Economy theme “Celebrating Success in the Digital Economy". Blogging Birds demonstrated the ability to generate complex automated data-driven texts, received an EPSRC prize (Telling Tales of Engagement Competition), and resulted in a publication in the prestigious Communications of the ACM (Siddharthan et al., 2019). BeeWatch was an online citizen science initiative that generated valuable bumblebee records across the UK by integrating artificial intelligence and data science into citizen science.  Following publication of our results on bumblebee feeding patterns in Nature Scientific Reports in 2020, Advaith is working with the RHS to use citizen science data to improve pollinator-friendly planting lists.

External collaborations

Key research collaborators on citizen science projects include University of Aberdeen, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, University of Edinburgh and Imperial College London. Advaith works with a much larger set of partners, within and outside of academia, including on European projects such as https://cos4cloud-eosc.eu/.