Our directors

Darren Bell

Associate Director, Technical Services

Darren leads the Technical Services team and has worked in a variety of IT roles in both the private and public sectors since the early nineties, firstly as an Infrastructure Manager, before moving into the development and architecture arena. He has been at the UK Data Archive since 2012 and is currently overseeing the transformation of the repository from a traditional social sciences file-based infrastructure into a cross-domain data platform based on linked open data in the cloud as well as building deeper integration with international research infrastructures through the DDI Alliance and CESSDA.

Oliver Duke-Williams

Service Director, Census

Oliver directs the UK Data Service team working on census data. The team is spread across multiple institutions, and includes specialists in a number of different types of output from the census. He has extensive experience working on the delivery and analysis of census data, specialising in origin-destination data; he is also a Senior Advisor to the Centre for Longitudinal Study Information and User Support, which facilitates research access to the ONS Longitudinal Study. Oliver is Professor of Population Information in the Department of Information Studies at UCL, where he also leads MA/MSc programmes in Digital Humanities. Since 2018 Oliver has been a member of the National Statistician’s Methodological Assurance Review Panel (MARP), which provides guidance related to the implementation of the 2021 Census, the 2023 Recommendation on the future of Population Statistics, and on other developments in related national datasets.

Finn Dymond-Green

Service Director, Impact

Finn leads the Impact team’s discovery and evidencing of the impact of research undertaken using the data in the UK Data Service collection, as well as the impact of the Service’s infrastructure. Prior to working in the impact team, Finn gained a range of experience of teaching, training, resource creation and evaluation in both the education and cultural sectors.

Neil Grindley

Deputy Director

Neil is the Director of Discovery and Content at Jisc, an organisation that empowers UK universities, colleges and skills providers to fully exploit the possibilities afforded by digital technologies. He has strategic responsibility for developing products and maintaining services that enable universities and colleges to acquire, create, manage, find and access resources for teaching, learning and research. Neil has managed and led national level initiatives focused on the digital humanities, digital preservation, and data infrastructure services for libraries.

Gemma Hakins

Service Director, Communications and Engagement

Gemma heads up the team dedicated to promoting the UK Data Service and supporting all communications needs. A chartered marketer since 2010, Gemma has 20 years’ international marketing experience across Health, Central Government, Higher Education, Charity and Telecommunications sectors. She is also an Associate Director of the UK Data Archive, lead partner of the UK Data Service, based at the University of Essex.

Vanessa Higgins

Service Director, User Support and Training

Vanessa leads the team dedicated to delivering a programme of training events, web-based training resources and online help for researchers and teachers using the data. She is an experienced social researcher who specialises in health research using cross-sectional survey data, and a Senior Research Fellow at the Cathie Marsh Institute for Social Research, a UK Data Service partner based at the University of Manchester. A researcher on large-scale national surveys at the Office for National Statistics (ONS) before joining the Service, Vanessa also teaches and supervises MSc students within the Cathie Marsh Institute.

Debora Price

Deputy Director

Debora is a Professor of Social Gerontology at the University of Manchester, where she directs MICRA, the Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing – part of the Cathie Marsh Institute for the application of quantitative methods in interdisciplinary social science research. President of the British Society of Gerontology and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and the Royal Statistical Society, Debora has taught quantitative research methods to social scientists from undergraduate to PhD level. Her own research uses complex analysis of diverse large scale datasets to understand poverty and inequality in later life.

John Sanderson

Acting Deputy Director

Based at the UK Data Archive, John supports the Director with the operational delivery of the UK Data Service. He has responsibility for implementing the UK Data Service Delivery Plan and enabling effective working across the five partners who make up the Service. Over the last decade John has worked at the University of Essex, in various roles for the Archive and within the Research Enterprise Office on large knowledge exchange and impact programmes. Before joining the University of Essex in 2014, he worked for over a decade in data research focused roles in police forces and local authorities.

Matthew Woollard

Professor of Data Policy and Governance

Matthew was Director of the UK Data Service and UK Data Archive from 2010 to 2023. He now provides leadership in data curation, archiving and preservation activities and continues to advise the UK Data Service as part of the Senior Leadership Group.

Matthew also provides expertise in data policy and governance across the UK Data Archive and leads the Governance Oversight Committee. He has practical and theoretical experience in all aspects of social science and humanities data service infrastructure, having previously headed the History Data Service and served as Head of Digital Preservation and Systems at the UK Data Archive. Matthew also works closely with academic colleagues as part of the Academic linkages programme at the University of Essex.