Research Associates – Machine Learning for Combating Modern Slavery and Exploitative Crimes

The Alan Turing Institute
  • Location
    London , United Kingdom
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Early Career / Mid Career
  • Apply by
  • Posted
    Apr 01

Position description

There has never been a more significant time to work in data science and AI. There is recognition of the importance of these technologies to our economic and social future: the so-called fourth industrial revolution. The technical challenge of keeping our data secure and private has grown in its urgency and importance. At the same time, voices from academia, industry, and government are coming together to debate how these technologies should be governed and managed.

The Alan Turing Institute, as the UK’s national institute for data science and artificial intelligence, plays an important part in driving forward advances in these technologies in order to change the world for the better. 

The Institute is named in honour of Alan Turing, whose pioneering work in theoretical and applied mathematics, engineering and computing is considered to have laid the foundations for modern-day data science and artificial intelligence. The Institute’s goals are to undertake world-class research, apply its research to real-world problems, driving economic impact and societal good, lead the training of a new generation of scientists, and shape the public conversation around data and algorithms.

After launching in 2015 with government funding from EPSRC and five founding universities, the Institute has grown an extensive network of university partners from across the UK and launched a number of major partnerships with industry, public and third sector. Today it is home to more than 400 researchers and a talented business team.


We are seeking for up to two post-doctoral Research Associates (RAs) to work on the Turing Project “Data Science/AI for Combating Modern Slavery”. Researchers will be based at the Alan Turing Institute and part of a team of top Bayesian graphical modellers, causal decision theory, machine learning, and geo-spatial modelling academics. The research team includes Anjali Mazumder (Turing PI), Doreen Boyd (Nottingham), James Goulding (Nottingham), Bernard Silverman (Nottingham), Jim Smith (Warwick) and several other Turing colleagues across the Defence & Security, Public Policy and AI programmes. The PDRA(s) will meet regularly with the research team and expect to engage with domain experts and stakeholders across law enforcement, government, national and international NGOs, and the private sector.

Global estimates of modern slavery have been estimated at 40.3 million, and is recognised as a human right, socio-economic and security risk. Use of data and data science/machine learning methods is integral to combating modern slavery, human trafficking and other serious, exploitative, and organised crimes. This project focuses on developing and using data science/machine learning methods to identify and quantify hidden populations (prevalence); identify factors and behavioural patterns from multiple disparate and complex data structures; predict risks/vulnerabilities; and prevent and interfere along complex pathways and networks. The project will entail (a) translating domain knowledge into a statistical model (R1), and (b) computational methods to mine and exploit the data (R2).

Each PDRA will have specific project goals and is expected to work with the research team to deliver new insights into the prevalence, risk and vulnerability estimation and mapping of modern slavery; and develop new methods to identify victims and perpetrators, and opportunities to intervene along different pathways and networks in the pursuit and prosecution of perpetrators and exploitative criminal activity and in support of victims.

Duties and responsibilities

  • Perform high quality research in statistics, machine learning methods as outlined above and as relevant to the project.
  • Write and contribute to research publications, documenting results of the research, to publish in relevant peer-reviewed scientific journals of international standing, to present these results at conferences and workshops, and to communicate results to a diverse audience and through multiple mediums.
  • Assist in the organisation of and participate in regular meetings and special workshops with the research team, designated members of staff and with other collaborators.
  • Collaborate with colleagues in government both on research and on taking methods developed towards wider use.
  • Travel as necessary to meet with internal and external collaborators.
  • Take initiative and make original contributions to the research programme wherever possible, and to contribute freely to the team research environment in a manner conducive to the success of the research project as a whole.



  • PhD (or close to completion) or equivalent experience in statistics (R1), machine learning, computer science (R2) or related discipline
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills including the ability to present complex or technical information, and to communicate effectively with analysts and other stakeholders outside the research community.
  • Ability to collaborate successfully with colleagues in government, industry.
  • Ability to work as a member of a team.
  • Ability to lead one’s own work, including planning and execution, and to prioritise work to meet deadlines. Ability to organise working time, take the initiative, and carry out research independently, under the guidance of the PI.
  • Expertise in one or more of R, Python, C++


  • Specialist expertise in a relevant area of methodology including one or more of probabilistic graphical models, spatial temporal models, geospatial modelling, causal inference, image processing, behavioural statistics, natural language processing, computational/machine learning methods
  • Experience of collaboration with government, or with analyst teams in other sectors outside academic research.
  • Experience of collaboration with other academic disciplines.
  • Interest in applications to modern slavery, human trafficking, international development, criminal justice, human rights, social good.
  • Experience of working with large data sets.

Other information

Terms and Conditions:

This is fixed term position (3 years)  Salary £35,000- £41,000

Application instructions

You will be required to submit an application form, including your CV cover letter, and contact details of your referees. If you have questions or would like to discuss the role further with a member of the Institute’s HR Team, please contact them on 0203 862 3394 or email [email protected]. Informal enquiries may be made to the PI Anjali Mazumder at [email protected].

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