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Meet the judges: Phillippa Spencer 

Phillippa Spencer OBE

Phillippa currently works the Chief of Mathematical Sciences in the Cyber and Information systems Division in Dstl. Phillippa has worked for Dstl for 19 years, applying mathematical and statistical thinking across a number of areas such as cyber, artificial intelligence, data fusion, chemistry and biology.

Her analysis was used among healthcare workers in Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreak and she was a key expert in bringing the F-35 fighter into service. Phillippa was involved in the clean-up of Salisbury following the Novichok incident, where she applied statistical modelling to determine whether locations or vehicles were safe to use. More recently, drafted in to support the COVID modelling effort. Patents included graph theory applied to forensic DNA profiles and artificial neural networks for the pre-symptomatic diagnosis of sepsis.

Phillippa is the technical lead of the autonomous vulnerabilities project, under the autonomy programme. She was the recipient of the Women in Defence UK Woman of the Year 2019 and Outstanding Contribution to defence awards. She is a fellow of the Royal Statistical Society, a chartered chemist and scientist and an honorary fellow of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications. Her area of research interest are transparency and confidence in algorithmic processes, particularly artificial neural networks and enhancing AI with evidence theory. Recently received an OBE for services to defence.