I am a computer scientist who has increasingly become involved in how digital technologies and how they can support environmental scientists in addressing grand challenges around climate change, and environmental change more generally. This led to a conflict in my life – a strong awareness of climate change and yet I was flying everywhere – often as much as twice a month. This was a huge contradiction in my life and I eventually took a pledge to not fly for work. This has been a hugely positive step for me personally although there is a risk of being cut-off from my communities. I also recognize that this would be a harder step to take if I was less established in my career. I feel the whole system has to change and that academics and researchers are behind the curve in thinking about our carbon footprint.
I am a Distinguished Professor of distributed systems at Lancaster University. I still carry out fundamental research in distributed systems, including middleware architectures but my research is increasingly targeted at how digital technologies such as cloud computing, the Internet of Things, and data science can help support environmental sciences as they move towards a more open, integrative and collaborative style of science. I also lead the Environmental theme of Lancaster’s Data Science Institute and am a founding member of the Centre for Environment Data Science, a joint venture between Lancaster University and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH).