Alexandra Poulovassilis CEng, CITP, FBCS

Emeritus Professor of Computer Science at Birkbeck, University of London.

Founding Director of the Birkbeck Knowledge Lab (Feb 2016-March 2021) and before that Co-Director of the London Knowledge Lab (2003-2015). Deputy Dean for Research Enhancement in the School of Business, Economics & Informatics (2015-21) and before that Assistant Dean for Research (2009-15). Founding Head of the Graduate Research School (2003-5). Former Head of Computer Science and Information Systems (2003-6, 2009-10).

In these roles I have championed interdisciplinary links between the sciences, social sciences and arts by leading cross-disciplinary discourse, establishment of collaborative research centres, projects and training programmes, and engagement with research stakeholders and professionals across disciplines and sectors. I am passionate about achieving gender equality in STEM career development, representing our School on Birkbeck's Athena SWAN committee from its inception till 2017, which oversaw the submission of two successful Bronze Award applications. I also served on the committee's Action Plan subgroup 2012-2017 coordinating the implementation of the action plans arising from the 2012 and 2016 awards. More recently I have served as a mentor for mid-career women on the Aurora Leadership programme, as a member of our department's Athena SWAN self-assessment team, and as a Project Board member of the EU TRIGGER project.

Research: New digital technologies and applications are giving rise to increasing volumes and varieties of data: in heterogeneous data stores, on the web, in mobile and pervasive computing environments. Users may find it difficult to find the right data for their purposes, combine data from different sources, and extract value from their data. My research interests are in data integration, querying, analysis, visualisation and personalisation. Much of my work is in interdisciplinary collaborative projects with domain experts from the arts, life sciences and social sciences, most recently in the Mapping Museums and Museums in the Pandemic projects. My current research is in:

This research has been pursued through over 20 externally awarded research grants, including funding for fundamental research in data management from EPSRC, and for interdisciplinary research with educationalists (ESRC, EU, JISC), life scientists (BBSRC), and humanities scholars (AHRC). I have co-edited four books: Web Dynamics (Springer, 2004); The Functional Approach to Data Management (Springer, 2004); Reasoning in Event-Based Distributed Systems (Springer, 2011); New Perspectives in Gender, Science & Innovation (Edward Elgar, 2020).

Some recent presentations

Current/recent research students and research staff


See the DBLP Bibliography Server and Google Scholar.

Professional activities

Pro-Vice-Master for Research and International Students, Birkbeck, 2002-03
Founding Head of the Graduate Research School, Birkbeck, 2003-05
Head of Computer Science and Information Systems, Birkbeck, 2003-06, 2009-10
Co-Director, London Knowledge Lab, 2003-2015
Director, Birkbeck Knowledge Lab, Feb 2016-March 2021
Assistant Dean for Research, School of Business, Economics and Informatics, 2009-15
Deputy Dean (Research Enhancement), School of BEI, 2015-21
Member of Birkbeck's Athena SWAN Committee, 2011-17
Member of the department's Athena SWAN Self-Assessment team
Member of the EPSRC Peer Review College
Member of the RAE 2008 and REF 2014 Computer Science and Informatics sub-panel
General Chair of the 31st British International Conference on Databases - BICOD 2017
Invited speaker at FQAS 2017, ICFCA 2017, EDBT 2015 Summer School, NLDB 2013
Associate Editor of IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering
Fellow, British Computer Society
Fellow of Birkbeck, University of London

Brief biography

After a BA in Maths at Cambridge and working at IBM Greece in the early to mid 1980s, I returned to the UK to do an MSc and PhD in Computer Science at Birbeck funded by a studentship from the Greek State Scholarships Foundation (IKY). My PhD and postdoctoral research was in data models and languages for graph-structured data. I held a SERC Postdoctoral Fellowship at University College London during 1989-91 and then joined King's College London. After eight years there as Lecturer and then Senior Lecturer, I returned to Birkbeck in 1999 with the award of a Readership under Birkbeck's 175th Anniversary Chairs & Readers scheme. I became a full Professor in 2001, and Professor Emerita and Fellow of the College in 2021.