Science and engineering research

Summaries and case studies of the world-leading research carried out in the College of Science & Engineering.


The College of Science & Engineering’s outstanding performance in REF2014 reflects world-class, fundamental research that has impact on many aspects of modern life.

College research summary

Case studies

Thermostatic controls in molecular dynamics

Photo of heatmaps showing hot and cold areas
Professor Ben Leimkuhler designed new thermostatting algorithms and led a groundbreaking project that aimed to improve the effectiveness of computational mathematics in a number of applications.

Community wireless broadband project

Photo of broadband being installed in rural farmland
Researchers from the School of Informatics deployed an experimental network based on long-distance WiFi, which enabled some of Scotland’s most remote communities to access superfast broadband for the first time.

Speech synthesis research benefits industry and patients

Visual representation of a soundwave
Research carried out by the University’s Centre for Speech Technology Research (CSTR) has resulted in the creation of more natural-sounding synthesised voices, benefiting patients requiring communication aids.

Combating neglected tropical diseases

Photo of an African child drinking water from a tap
Research by Francisca Mutapi and her team led to changes to the WHO’s policies on mass drug administration programmes for the treatment of schistosomiasis, the continent's second most deadly parasitic infection.

Engineering wavemakers

Photo of the University of Edinburgh's wave tank
A long history of marine engineering research has made the University the world-leading supplier of wave-making technology.

Measuring and quantifying airborne pollutants

Photo of cars in a traffic jam
Dr Mathew R Heal’s research into how air pollution affects human health has informed policy to help reduce emissions and raised public awareness.

Saving lives through fire safety engineering

Photo of a controlled fire in a lab
Research by Edinburgh’s BRE Centre for Fire Safety Engineering has transformed international regulations and practice in structural design.

Moses: bringing machine translation to the masses

An open-source translation system for computers that can be trained for particular contexts has been adopted in applications ranging from the European Commission to real-time social chat.

The Skoog: a new kind of musical instrument

The Skoog meets the need for a new kind of inclusive musical instrument, one that maximises the educational and health benefits of the creative arts.

Statistical crime fighters: improving forensic science

Photo of a broken glass bottle
New Bayesian statistical methods have transformed the way forensic evidence is gathered and assessed, and have led to new protocols being recommended nationally and internationally.

Shaping policy on earthquake risk estimation and forecasting

Photo of a damaged building in L’Aquila, Italy, after an earthquake in 2009.
Research on earthquake risk estimation and forecasting has directly impacted the policy recommendations of the International Commission on Earthquake Forecasting and, in turn, the policies of governments in numerous countries.

Rett syndrome: hope of cure drives fundraising and underpins new trials

Photo of a young girl
Research on Rett syndrome, a neurological disorder affecting girls, has revolutionised understanding of the disease and shown symptoms can be reversed in mice.

Saving savannas: development of environmental services in Belize

 Photo of a child playing with the Skoog learning engagement tool
A Darwin Initiative mapping project in Belize has provided environmental organisations with valuable resources for biodiversity monitoring and plant identification in the country’s important savanna habitats.

Unlocking the power of software: the Message-Passing Interface

Photo of the ARCHER supercomputer
Edinburgh’s expertise in supercomputing has led to the creation of standardised Message-Passing Interface programming, allowing software to be used across different hardware systems and unlocking new potential in parallel computing.