Professor Heidi Christensen announced as new Head of the Department of Computer Science

We are delighted to announce that Professor Heidi Christensen has been appointed Head of the Department of Computer Science, with her tenure to commence on 1st September 2023.

Heidi Christensen headshot

Heidi, a Professor of Spoken Language Technology who has served as Deputy Head of the Department as well as Faculty of Engineering Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, will become the first female Head of the Department.

Her main research interests are in the areas of speech and language technology, with a particular focus on how innovative technologies can transform how we deliver healthcare

Heidi follows Professor Guy Brown, who is stepping down from the role after leading for eight years in which the Department has experienced an ambitious and unprecedented period of growth. Heidi, who has gained an international reputation for her research, plans to build on this momentum to solidify the Department as one of the very best in the UK to study and research computer science.

I am incredibly excited and proud to have been given the opportunity to take over the leadership of one of the UK's most agile and innovative computer science departments at a time when computer science is having an increasing impact in all corners of society,"

Heidi Christensen 

“We are an ambitious and supportive Department that has gone from strength to strength under Guy’s strong and dedicated leadership. I know I speak for everyone in extending my thanks to him for his service to our Department and the wider University.”

Over the past eight years, the Department has introduced exciting new taught programmes and expanded the depth and breadth of its research portfolio. Several new research groups have been established (Computer Vision, Security of Advanced Systems, Pervasive Computing, Foundations of Computation) along with academic appointments in areas such as theoretical computer science, software testing and machine learning.

The Department has also made significant enhancements to student support, growing its team and appointing a Student Wellbeing Adviser specifically for computer science students. 

Throughout the period, notable progress has also been made on equality, diversity and inclusion. This was recognised in 2016 when the Department received the Silver Athena SWAN award, which acknowledges success in the ongoing mission to improve gender representation and diversity. Since receiving the award, the Department has set up a thriving Sheffield Women In Computer Science society (SWiCS) and have built a popular Women+@DCS seminar series to promote gender equality.

“I’ve been fortunate to lead the Department through an extraordinary period of growth over the last 8 years, in which we have doubled our staff and student numbers and significantly grown our estate,” said Guy.

Guy Brown headshot

“I’m very proud of what our staff have achieved over this period. Despite many challenges (including the Covid pandemic) we performed strongly in REF2021 and received consistently high student feedback in the National Student Survey – on three occasions we were placed top in the Russell Group for overall student satisfaction in computer science. 

“In short, the Department has cemented its position as a major UK centre for the teaching and research of computer science. 

“The future for the Department of Computer Science is a very bright one. I wish Heidi every success, and look forward to seeing the Department continue to flourish under her leadership.” 

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Sheffield is a research university with a global reputation for excellence. We're a member of the Russell Group: one of the 24 leading UK universities for research and teaching.