Robert Stevens


Personal profile


I am a professor of computer science in the Bio-Health Informatics Group in the School of Computer Science at the University of Manchester. I have a B.Sc. in biochemistry; an M.Sc. in biological Computation; and a D.Phil. in Computer Science: A blend of Biology and Computer Science, that I use within my main research area of Bioinformatics. I am also a member of the Information Management Group where I work with colleagues on both e-Science and description logics. I also have close affiliation with the Bioinformatics Groups from the Faculty of Life Sciences.

An article in The Biochemist magazine gives an overview of my academic life-history

A pottted biography is:

  • 2013: Professor of computer science (Computer Science, Manchester);
  • 2010: Reader in bio-health informatics (Computer Science, Manchester);
  • 2006: Senior lecturer (Computer Science, Manchester);
  • 2001: Lecturer (Computer Science, Manchester);
  • 1997: Move to Manchester as postdoctoral research associate on TAMBIS project;
  • 1993: RA on Maths project, university of York;
  • 1996: D.Phil. computer science, University of York;
  • 1991: M.Sc.biological computation, University of York;
  • 1986: B.Cs. (Hons) Biochemistry, university of Bristol.

Research interests

My research has followed a theme of the computer science associated with managing and using complex information in inter-disciplinary settings, from early research into presenting complex information in audio to blind people, through research into tools for data analysis in e-Science to my principle research area in biomedical semantics.

Within my biomedical ontology research I have led the ontology building and use within the school as one vertex of a virtuous triangle of ontology language fundamentals, tool development and ontology development and use. I have published the first papers on semantic similarity using bio-ontologies, the use of bio-ontologies to query multiple distributed information sources, to discover new proteins through classification, and to publish discovery of new biological facts in a high impact biology journal from the use of Semantic Web technologies.

This research into semantically describing and managing biomedical data has had a counterpart in my activity within e-Science research. I led the user activity of the Taverna Workflow Workbench (led by Carole Goble) in analysis of biomedical data. I was first author on the first paper to mention workflow within bioinformatics; the lead author on the first paper to use workflows to demonstrate an automation of biological analysis and a supervisor (with Andy Brass) of Paul Fisher, who developed novel methods for analyzing gene expression data that has led to insights into tolerance to trypanosomiasis in East African cattle.

My group


I have supervised  five Ph.D. students to completion. I currently have three Ph.D. students. My students mainly work in the area of knowledge management within bioinformatics through the use of ontologies. I also run students on e-Science projects looking at "industrialising" data analysis within bioinformatics. Finally, I also have Ph.D. students working in the area of accessibility to electronic information by visually disabled computer users. I welcome enquiries from prospective Ph.D. students. I will be looking to take on new students from late 2008.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Digital Futures
  • Christabel Pankhurst Institute


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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