A computer science researcher at the University of Strathclyde has won a prestigious Scotland-wide award from the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland.

Damien Anderson has been awarded the Robertson Medal, presented annually by the Trust to the most outstanding student on its PhD scholarship programme.

Damien was chosen from the 14 students awarded scholarships from an original list of 58 applicants. His research focuses on artificial intelligence (AI) programming, designed to respond to unpredictable situations.

He is to receive the medal from Professor Dame Anne Glover, former Chief Scientific Adviser to the Scottish Government and the European Commission, at a ceremony at Strathclyde today (Friday 5 February).

Damien, who is from Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, said: “It’s great to be receiving this award. I’m enjoying everything about my PhD - the people I’m working with are fantastic and it’s a good working environment.

“My research looks into ways to enable computers to figure out something on their own, whatever’s been programmed into them. For example, in computer games, AI could be used for the computer to work out why its performance has gone up or down and apply this to its strategies, so that it can solve a problem without having faced that type of problem before.”

Professor Andy Walker, Chief Executive of the Carnegie Trust, said: “Our PhD Scholarship scheme is highly competitive with only the very best graduates being put forward by the Scottish universities for consideration.  It is to Damien’s great credit that, not only has he been awarded one of our scholarships, but that the selection panel recognised him as this year’s best student.  I am confident that his research project will be very fruitful and wish him well with his studies.”

Damien received a degree in Software Engineering from Strathclyde in 2015 before beginning his PhD. His Robertson Medal win follows his success in the 2015 Young Software Engineer of the Year Awards, in which he was awarded third prize.

During his degree, Damien had a 12-month internship at CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, in Switzerland. He wrote software protection systems for the particle accelerators at CERN, including the Large Hadron Collider, and the quality of his work led to his internship being extended by two months.

The Robertson Medal was won in 2013 by Strathclyde Engineering students and identical twins Carol and Claire Forsyth. They had previously gained Masters degrees with distinction in Chemical Engineering – achieving the highest and second highest grades in the history of Strathclyde’s department of Chemical and Process Engineering.

The medal was introduced in 2003 to mark the contribution of the retiring Chairman of the Carnegie Trust, Sir Lewis Robertson, who served the Trust for more than 40 years.