Skip to main content

£100k donation from alumnus supports innovative data research programme

£100k donation from alumnus supports innovative data research programme

18 October 2021

A former Computer Science graduate has donated £100,000 in the past six years to tackle the enormous skills shortage in data analytics in the UK.

Savas Parastatidis, who completed a PhD at Newcastle University in 2000, has donated to the University’s Centre for Doctoral Training in Cloud Computing for Big Data for the past six years, totalling more than £100,000.

This generous donation from Savas has helped the Centre train and support new PhD students to produce future leaders in data analytics through its innovative and highly prestigious four-year PhD programme. During their doctorate, students benefit from strong cohort interactions through group research projects, and industry links to help tackle the enormous skills shortage in data analytics in the UK.

Savas’ donation has contributed to PhD studentships in vital areas of research, such as data visualisation, predicting epilepsy surgery outcomes, AI companions for healthcare management and modelling mitochondrial DNA mutations from big single-cell datasets. It has also provided the Centre the financial flexibility it has needed during the pandemic, allowing students to apply for extensions to their funding so they can continue their research.

As well as supporting data students financially, Savas has donated his time to present virtual keynote presentations to the cohort of students completing their doctorate through the pandemic. He said:

“I am thankful to Newcastle University for its focus on education and research excellence. I was a recipient of a scholarship to do research under the supervision of Prof. Paul Watson. My time at the University opened up opportunities for me that today allow me to contribute back, as much as I can, and help the next generation of scientists.”

Prior to his doctorate, Savas also studied for a Master’s in Computer Software and System Design at Newcastle. Since graduating, he has held prestigious positions at Microsoft, Facebook, and most recently, Amazon, where he is a Senior Principal Engineer for the Alexa Artificial Intelligence program. 

Housed in the University’s state-of-the-art Urban Sciences Building, students at the Centre for Doctoral Training in Cloud Computing for Big Data complete a year-long advanced Master's level training programme in cloud computing and data analytics before commencing a three-year doctorate.