Dr. Advaith Siddharthan, a Reader at KMi, read Physics at the University of Delhi, and Computer Science at the University of Cambridge before gained 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 covering Citizen Science and Computational Linguistics. Advaith has over 80 peer-reviewed publications. He has been PI on grants from the EPSRC and ESRC, Co-I on grants from EPSRC and NERC and Associate-I in UoA’s RCUK funded Digital Economy hub (2011-15, £12M). Advaith is a member of the EPSRC College, Association for Computational Machinery (ACM) and Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL).
Siddharthan's research specialisation is in Computational Linguistics and Data Science, with a focus on communicating complex data and making information and data (particularly telemetric data) accessible through text analytics, summarisation, reformulation and natural language generation. I have a particular interest in Citizen Science, and in particular, technologies that break down the divide between professional scientists and lay public and facilitate the meaningful engagement of the public with science.
Siddharthan (with Van der Wal) has led the development of novel technologies aimed at public engagement with nature conservation schemes. Two of these, 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 our ability to generate complex automated data-driven texts, and received an EPSRC prize (Telling Tales of Engagement Competition) following extensive press coverage (e.g. New Scientist, Wired, Telegraph, Scotsman, BBC Radio Scotland). Our final study on how the blogs are appraised has been accepted for publication in the prestigious Communications of the ACM (Siddharthan et al., 2019). BeeWatch is an online citizen science initiative that has proved itself to be a successful system for generating valuable bumblebee records across the UK. The value of feedback provision using Natural Language Generation (NLG) has been recognised as a ‘way forward in Citizen science to allow continued engagement, retention and training of users’ among influential players in the conservation field (SNH, SEPA). BeeWatch has featured in local and national media (e.g. BBC, Scotsman, Countryfile magazine, Guardian Environment blog, with BBC’s Beechgrove Gardens television show viewed by more than 250K viewers). These projects have been co-created in partnership with leading UK charities, the Royal Society for Protection of Birds, Bumblebee Conservation Trust and Royal Horticultural Society (BeeWatch).