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Major Accolade for Ulster Professor

Professor Gerard Parr, Chair of Telecommunications Engineering at the University of Ulster, School of Computing and Information Engineering in Coleraine, has been re-appointed to the Strategic Advisory Team of the UK Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC).


A native of County Down, Professor Parr will join with other leading UK academics to help identify research and training priorities and strategy within their respective portfolios. Professor Parr will have a specific focus on the ICT sector.

He explained: “EPSRC’s role is to ensure that the funding of skills and the research base are in place to meet the future needs of government, industry and society in the UK.

“EPSRC supports excellent, long term research and high quality postgraduate training in order to contribute to the economic competitiveness of the UK and the quality of life of its people. At any one time, it supports a portfolio of research and training between £2-£3 billion.

According to Professor Parr, the vision for ICT capability is to support UK scientists to deliver the very best research and training to meet the future scientific needs across the science base.

“ICT research and training is a priority for EPSRC: it provides technologies vital for the UK’s economic prosperity, as well as for the safety and well-being of its people.”

Looking ahead, Professor Parr says future challenges for the ICT sector include the need to ensure that the underlying technology and systems needed for the continued growth of the Internet and its associated applications will be of benefit to all citizens, regardless of their economic situation or geographical location.

He stressed the importance of relevant research and the need for the downstreaming of such research to have a positive impact on the international competitiveness of UK industry and the quality of life of citizens. “This will require innovations in the hardware design and management software of fixed-wireless access devices and the security, performance and resilience of the underlying telecommunications infrastructure and network elements such as switches, routers, exchanges and even energy-aware data centres (Green ICT).

“Such innovations support the growing demand for services such as Cloud Computing. Our research team at Ulster’s Coleraine campus already contributes to national and international research projects funded by industry and government.” He continued: “UK universities have an international reputation for cutting-edge research into the technologies and industries that will change the face of society and the economy and how we engage with key areas such as digital communications and linked applications is an enabler in that development.

“In the most recent UK Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), Computer Science research at Ulster was ranked amongst the top universities in the UK. Computer Science research at Ulster was ranked 15th out of 81 UK universities in terms of research power.

“Our submission of 41 staff was the 8th largest in the UK, with 55% of the submission judged to be world-leading or internationally excellent, and 90% internationally recognised.” Professor Parr’s appointment to the EPSRC Strategic Advisory Team recognises the high quality of research being carried out at Ulster. “This is an opportunity for us to get a more detailed appreciation of the strategic policy frameworks and thinking within Research Councils UK EPSRC that drives research funding in our area. It also allows me to have direct input to the development of new activities, policies and processes that will impact on future research priorities and their funding and the way in which they are measured for Impact.”

In his new advisory role, Professor Parr will be expected to alert EPSRC to new and emerging research and training opportunities, including international opportunities; to advise on the balance between research and training activities; and to identify and advise on priority areas for funding that need further exploration or investigation.

Professor Parr has also been appointed to a newly formed International Advisory Group within EPSRC to assist in the development new collaborative research funding programmes in the ICT sector with international funding agencies, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the USA, EU, and the national agencies in Japan, India, Brazil and Canada. He will be joined on this group by Professor George Constantinides from Imperial College London, Professor David Hogg from University of Leeds and Professor Mark Harman from University College London.

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Professor Gerard Parr, Chair of Telecommunications Engineering at the University of Ulster