Dr Denis Newman-Griffis

BA (Carleton), MSc (Ohio State), PhD (Ohio State)

Information School

Lecturer in Data Science

Denis Newman-Griffis
+44 114 222 2647

Full contact details

Dr Denis Newman-Griffis
Information School
Room 212
Regent Court (IS)
211 Portobello
S1 4DP

My academic background is in computer science and computational linguistics. After completing by BA in Computer Science and Russian at Carleton College, I worked as a business software developer for two years before beginning my MSc and PhD in Computer Science and Engineering at the Ohio State University. I trained in machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) methods, focusing on neural representation learning, knowledge representation, and information extraction.

During my PhD I joined the Epidemiology & Biostatistics Section of the Rehabilitation Medicine Department at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in the US, where I worked on developing NLP methods to support and inform the U.S. Social Security Administration's disability benefits programmes. This work brought me to the world of health informatics, and to the intersection of informatics and disability, which have since shaped my career. I completed postdoctoral training in the Department of Biomedical Informatics at the University of Pittsburgh, and joined the Information School as a Lecturer in Data Science in 2022.

My research spans across diverse areas and methodologies, including artificial intelligence and data science, critical disability studies, health informatics, and linguistics, and I regularly publish in both computer science and health informatics venues. My work brings together researchers across disciplines to investigate the interactions of AI design, implementation, and use in health and social care, and I won the American Medical Informatics Association's Doctoral Dissertation Award for my work on NLP and disability. I organize the workshop series on AI for Function, Disability, and Health and am recognized as a leader in the intersection of AI and health equity.

I am proud to be a queer researcher in data science, and I serve as a Non-Binary Role Model at the University of Sheffield. I have been involved in organizing events through Queer in AI (https://www.queerinai.com/), and I am passionate about supporting LGBT+/queer students and staff in the academic community.

My pronouns are they/them.

University responsibilities

  • Deputy Coordinator, MSc Data Science
Research interests

I study practical effectiveness and responsible design of artificial intelligence technologies for medicine and health. My interests can be summarized in the following areas:

Intersection of informatics and disability

  • Natural language processing methods for analyzing information on function and disability

  • Disability-led analysis and design of AI technologies

  • Addressing information inequities in health and social care of disabled people

Translational data science

  • Defining translational challenges to bringing natural language processing technologies out of the lab and into practice

  • Characterizing the translational process for AI technologies and the research opportunities it creates

Practical natural language processing for health

  • Evaluating health NLP technologies and datasets in terms of real-world data variability

  • Modular design of health NLP technologies for information extraction to improve generalizability

  • Grounding concepts in medical text to standardized medical databases

Comparative corpus analysis for data insight

  • Analysing and interactively exploring how text collections change over time

  • Comparative analysis of medical data for different populations to assess equitable data collection and representation

  • Practical tools for exploring what text data say and how they say it


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Teaching activities

I contribute to the module INF6207: Intro to Data Science

Professional activities

I am a Special Volunteer with the Epidemiology & Biostatistics Section of the U.S. National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, on a project with the U.S. Social Security Administration to develop informatics methods for supporting disability benefits determination.

I regularly serve as a programme committee member and reviewer for a variety of conferences and journals in natural language processing and health informatics:

  • Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL) conferences -- ACL, NAACL, EMNLP, EACL

  • American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) conferences -- Annual Symposium, Informatics Summit

  • Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI)

  • Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA)

  • Journal of Biomedical Informatics

  • Frontiers in Digital Health

  • BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making

I am strongly committed to developing and mentoring student researchers, and I regularly serve as a reviewer for ACL series Student Research Workshops. I am also serving on the AMIA Student Paper Competition Committee (2021-2023).

I founded and organize the Workshop Series on Artificial Intelligence for Function, Disability, and Health (AI4Function; https://ai4function.github.io/) since 2020. I also guest edited a Research Topic on AI4Function in Frontiers in Digital Health.