Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt receives Honorary Doctorate


One of the UK’s foremost computer scientists, Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt, has today (Friday, July 6) been awarded an Honorary Doctorate (Doctor of Science) by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.


Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt is a leading researcher in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and was one of the originators of the interdisciplinary field of Web Science. He is Principal of Jesus College Oxford and a Professor of Computing Science at the University of Oxford. He is chairman of the Open Data Institute which he co-founded with Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Both of them leading the development of the highly acclaimed website. In 2010, he joined the UK government’s Public Sector Transparency Board – overseeing Open Data releases across the public sector. He was knighted in 2013 for ‘services to science and engineering’.

Sir Nigel grew up in the Peak District of Derbyshire. He has a degree in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of Newcastle and a PhD in Artificial Intelligence from the University of Edinburgh. In 1983 he joined the Department of Psychology at Nottingham where he established and led a vibrant AI group. In 1992 he became the Allan Standen Professor of Intelligent Systems. He moved to Southampton’s School of Electronics and Computer Science in 2000. At Southampton he researched the next generation of the World Wide Web and was the first Head of Web and Internet Science Group.

On presenting Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt to the congregation Dr Jeremy Smith, Dean for the Faculty of Humanities and Performing Arts, said:

“It gives me great pleasure to introduce Sir Nigel Shadbolt as recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.  Professor Shadbolt is one of the UK’s most eminent Computer Scientists and it is a huge privilege for me to introduce such an internationally renowned scholar of computing and smart technology.”  

On receiving the award at the ceremony, Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt, said:

“Change is happening everywhere - this University, the University of Wales Trinity Saint David has had the energy and commitment to engage internationally to understand how our independence and collaboration is a key part of this planet’s future. The University also cherishes its Welsh heritage and rich traditions and provides a vibrant example of the Welsh education excellence.  As Principal of Jesus College, Oxford, we’ve always been proud of our Welsh roots and connections, proud to have had an association with this place that goes back generations and one that the Vice Chancellor and I are keen to develop.

I would say to you all – if you are to succeed in life you will cease opportunities even if it means taking risks when they arise.  Value your family and friends as nobody regrets not spending an extra day at the office but they do regret having given enough time to friends and family.  In life, do what you really enjoy.  This is a day of celebration, a day of things achieved, support received and support given.  Vice chancellor, University of Wales Trinity Saint David we’d like to give you our heartfelt thanks.”

With over 500 publications, he has researched and published on topics ranging from cognitive psychology to computational neuroscience, Artificial Intelligence to the Semantic Web. He was one of the originators of the interdisciplinary field of Web Science. He is the co-author of The Spy in the Coffee Machine and is an authority on issues to do with privacy and trust in the Digital age. In 2018 he published The Digital Ape: how to live (in peace) with smart machines, described as a ‘landmark book’.

He has also been heavily involved with the commercial exploitation of his research. In 2008, Garlik, a company he co-founded to help protect personal information and prevent identity theft, was awarded Technology Pioneer status by the Davos World Economic Forum also winning the prestigious UK BT Flagship IT Award. Garlik had over 500,000 users when acquired by Experian in November 2011.

In its 50th Anniversary year 2006-2007, Nigel was President of the British Computer Society. He is a Fellow of The Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the British Computer Society. In 2011 he was awarded an Honorary DSc by the University of Nottingham. Married with two children he lives in Oxford and Lymington, Hampshire where he indulges his passion for sailing.

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