The 2015 European PhD Award on Control for Complex and Heterogeneous Systems

Dr Thomas Prescott, a Post-Doctoral Research Assistant (PDRA) in the Department of Engineering Science Control Group, has been awarded the 2015 European PhD Award for his DPhil thesis by the European Embedded Control Institute (EECI). The award was presented in June at the 2016 European Control Conference in Aalborg, Denmark.

Dr Thomas PrescottThe title of Dr Prescott’s DPhil thesis is “Large-Scale Layered Systems and Synthetic Biology: Model Reduction and Decomposition”. The thesis develops a novel framework to model, analyse and design multi-layered networks that arise in biology. The framework decomposes networks in layers rather than in modules, offering a different perspective about the properties of networks in general and biochemical networks in particular. It also opens up several research directions in network science, large-scale optimisation decomposition or how multi-agent systems with multi-scale dynamics can be treated, e.g. cyber-physical systems where the control layer and the physical layer interact to give complex behaviours.

The work was supervised by Professor Antonis Papachristodoulou in the Department of Engineering Science, and funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) through a scholarship from the Life Sciences Interface Doctoral Training Centre. Since January 2015, Dr Prescott has been a PDRA working in the Control Group on Synthetic Biology, and is leaving Oxford in August 2016 to join the Government Operational Research Service.

The EECI PhD Award is given annually in recognition of the best PhD thesis in Europe in the field of Control for Complex and Heterogeneous Systems. The aim is ‘to encourage high-quality work among young researchers in their first research period’. As winner, Dr Prescott shared a cash award of €1000, and received a certificate and trophy.