Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson photo

Research Associate, Data 2 Knowledge (D2K) Research Group, School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol


I am a data scientist and science communicator in the transdisciplinary Data 2 Knowledge (D2K) research group working across biomedical science, bioinformatics and social science to develop the infrastructural tools and methodologies for translating data into knowledge.


Research in modern biomedicine and social science requires sample sizes so large that this can often only be achieved through the pooling and co-analysis of data from several separate studies. However, increasingly a range of data access, sharing and analysis barriers prevent this from occurring. These include:

  • ethical-legal restrictions surrounding confidentiality and the sharing of, or access to, disclosive data
  • implications of extensive professional investment, intellectual property issues or licensing conditions constraining unconditional access to raw data
  • the physical size of the data is a limiting factor

I lead the open source DataSHIELD project (, providing a software solution to overcome these data sharing barriers, facilitating Open Science. My primary research interests are based around the adaptation of DataSHIELD for the analysis of additional data types e.g. geospatial and text data and the subsequent application of the approach in disciplines beyond the biosciences.

In addition to research activities, I am an active participant of the data security and trust working group in the Research Data Alliance - a global collaboration facilitating data sharing and re-use. I also contribute to teaching on the departmental short course programme and regularly organise workshops and hack events related to health and/or environmental informatics. My website ( documents my involvement in a variety of science communication and public engagement activities presently themed around big data, new technologies and of course LEGO!

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