David Ellis is a computational social scientist who has established a reputation as a global leader in understanding how data and ubiquitous digital technologies are changing the way we conduct research and the way we live. Working at the intersection of psychology and data science, his research has been published in world-leading psychology, medical, public health, computer science and communication journals with results often re-appearing on radio and television._Short Story Long__
Like most psychologists, my research career started as an undergraduate student carrying out experiments (under the supervision of Rob Jenkins). Several of these tested how attractive faces might distort our perception of time. However, even before this short lived venture into psychophysics, I was awarded a Chancellor's Fund scholarship the previous summer to conduct a short research project in collaboration with an industry partner. This experience helped convince me that academia might be a good life choice.
My PhD (also supervised by Rob), predominantly considered systematic changes in behaviour across socially derived time cycles (i.e. the calendar week and the working day). While this included traditional lab-based experiments, I started to merge these approaches with large-scale secondary data analyses of health related datasets.
The results from my PhD had several applied implications and included some practical recommendations for optimising appointment systems in the National Health Service. This strand of research continues to occupy much of my time and I completed an ESRC funded placement at The Scottish Government in 2011.
Following my doctorate, I was employed as a post-doctoral researcher on a government grant held by Paul Taylor and Stacey Conchie at Lancaster University, which investigated team performance across a variety of contexts. As before, this merged controlled laboratory experiments with real-world observation. Around the same time, I became interested in using wearable and mobile technologies (sometimes referred to as digital traces), which can provide new insights about individuals and their behaviour. In 2013, I accepted an early career lectureship at the University of Lincoln where I was gifted ample opportunities to advance this line of work. With colleagues, I started to develop new methods to better understand technology use, considered how a variety of mobile devices might quantify emotion and pondered how wearable technology might transform health care.
I was appointed as a 50th Anniversary Lecturer in Computational Social Science at Lancaster University in 2015. This allowed me to return to a growing team of academics, post-doctoral researchers and PhD students in the Social Processes research group, which I led between 2017-2019. Developing lines of enquiry with forensic and health related applications, this group continues to bring together academics who use a variety a methodologies in experimental and applied settings. In addition to this group, I was and remain actively involved with a variety of other funded projects, research centres, and networks. Providing research reports to large and small companies, as well as governments, some contributions appeared in a 2019 Science and Technology Committee (Commons) government report on the Impact of Social Media and Screen-Use on Young People’s Health. My first book 'Smartphones within Psychological Science', published by Cambridge University Press, was predominantly written during my time at Lancaster.
In 2020, I moved to the School of Management at the University of Bath. Beyond expanding my own lab, I quickly became involved with aiding the continuation of one research centre (CREST) while also supporting the development of REPHRAIN, the National Research Centre on Privacy, Harm Reduction and Adversarial Influence Online. In the same year,
Having been involved with several collaborations in recent years that provide guidance for implementing open science practices in psychology and communication, I was appointed by the Vice-Chancellor to the Academic Ethics and Integrity Committee in 2021. We advise on the development, implementation and review of procedures and guidelines relating to academic ethical issues. I also became a Developing Beacon as part of Bath's strategy to develop multi-disciplinary research capacity that aims to address grand challenges. In December, I received the Dean’s Award for Research Communication and Translation and joined the Editorial Board at Technology, Mind, and Behavior.
Having been involved with several collaborations in recent years that provide guidance for implementing open science practices in psychology and communication, I was appointed by the Vice-Chancellor to the Academic Ethics and Integrity Committee in 2021. We advise on the development, implementation and review of procedures and guidelines relating to academic ethical issues. I also became a Developing Beacon as part of Bath's strategy to develop multi-disciplinary research capacity that aims to address grand challenges. In December, I received the Dean’s Award for Research Communication and Translation and joined the Editorial Board at Technology, Mind, and Behavior.While patterns of digital behaviour can unwittingly identify individuals, the utility of such data to derrive social good remains a priority. Current projects therefore aim to understand how we balance the benefits and risks of digital traces by continuing to collaborate with government and industry partners throughout the research cycle. This continues to generate applied impact and in 2022, our research was used to inform NICE recommendations that consider how vulnerable patients can be supported to access and engage with health and social care.