Principal Investigator

Professor Sir John V McCanny, Kt CBE BSc PhD DSc,

Regius Professor of Electronics and Computer Engineering
Director, Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology

Professor Sir John McCanny is an international authority on special purpose silicon architectures for Digital Signal and Video Processing and Cryptography. He has published 5 research books, 360 peer reviewed research papers and holds over 20 patents. In 2016 he was appointed Regius Professor in Electronics and Computer Engineering at Queen’s University Belfast, the first ever such Professorship in Northern Ireland.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), the Irish Academy of Engineering, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), the Institute of Physics and Engineers Ireland. He is also a Member of the Royal Irish Academy.

His many honours and awards include a CBE (2002), a UK Royal Academy of Engineering Silver Medal (1996), an IEEE Millennium Medal, the Royal Dublin Society/Irish Times Boyle medal (2004), the IET’s Faraday medal (2006 - its highest honour) and the Royal Irish Academy’s Cunningham medal (2011- its highest honour).

He has co-founded two successful high technology companies based on the work of his research teams, Amphion Semiconductor Ltd. – later acquired by Conexant, then NXP, then Entropic - and Audio Processing Technology Ltd - acquired in 2011 by Cambridge Silicon Radio, in turn acquired by Qualcomm in 2015.

He was responsible, within Queen’s University, for developing the vision that led to the creation of the Northern Ireland Science Park (now Catalyst Inc) and its £37M ECIT research flagship ( for which he is currently Director. In 2002 the Science Park was a “brownfield site”. Today 160 high technology companies are located there, employing over 2,600 people. He also led the initiative that in 2009 created the £30M Centre for Secure Information Technology (CSIT ). CSIT, which is based at ECIT, is funded by EPSRC, InnovateUK, InvestNI and industry. It now has over 90 people and is the UK’s Innovation and Knowledge Centre for Cybersecurity. In the past six years CSIT has played a key role in the creation of over 1200 additional new jobs, in effect creating a new cybersecurity business sector in Northern Ireland.

Professor McCanny was a Member of Council of the Royal Academy of Engineering between 2009 and 2012 and a Member of Council of the Royal Irish Academy between 2013 and 2014. He has served on numerous Royal Society committees including its Sectional Committee 4 that elects Fellows in Engineering, chairing this in 2005 and 2006. He recently co-chaired the Royal Society Policy Steering Group on Cybersecurity leading to the publication of its report “Progress and Research in Cybersecurity” in July 2016. He also was a member of the Royal Academy of Engineering Dowling review, whose report on business-university collaboration was published in 2015. He was previously a member of the international advisory board of the German Excellence Centre on “Ultra-High-Speed Mobile Information and Communication” at the University of Aachen (2007 and 2012) and was a Member of the board of Ireland’s Tyndall National Institute (2004 -2011).

Professor McCanny holds a Bachelor’s degree in Physics from the University of Manchester, a PhD in Physics from the University of Ulster and was awarded a DSc in 1998 in Electrical and Electronics Engineering by Queen’s University Belfast. He was awarded a Knighthood in the 2017 New Years’ Honours list for services to Higher Education and Economic development. 

Key Management Staff

Dr. Godfrey Gaston, CSIT Director

As Operations Director of the Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT), he has responsibility for general operations, business development, marketing, financial management and commercialisation of the research through licensing and spin out company formation.

Dr Gaston has a PhD in Semiconductor technology, worked for 6 years as a Principal Engineer for GEC Plessey Semiconductors before joining the senior management team of BCO, a successful silicon wafer bonding start-up (established mid-nineties). He was heavily involved in BCO's $153M acquisition by Analog Devices in 2000, joining ECIT in 2003. Dr Gaston has an MBA from Henley Management College.

Mr. Philip Mills (CISSP), Head of Business Development

Over 20 years’ experience building collaborative relationships with clients and partners in the commercial software domain, including software licensing, consultancy, business development and marketing. Previously held business development and sales roles at Singularity, AePONA, APiON and Aldiscon, and managed relationships with clients including JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Ericsson, Nokia, Orange and France Telecom. Philip is a CISSP and holds a Masters in Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering from Queens University, and a Masters in Computer Science from Queens University in collaboration with the University of Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.

Mr. David Crozier, Head of Strategic Partnerships & Engagement

Over 15 years experience in the public and private sectors in technical, policy and operational roles.  Previously he held product management and pre-sales roles at Lagan Technologies and policy advisor and system engineering roles at the NIO.  David holds a Masters in Innovation & Entrepreneurship and an Honours degree in Computer Science, both from the University of Ulster.

Ms Paula Dougherty, Operations Manager

As Operations Manager of the Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) and Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT), Paula plays a lead role in all operational, financial and administrative management.

With over 15 years of experience of Queens University in management roles. Paula holds an honours degree in Business and Management from Queens University.

Key Academic Staff

Prof. Sakir Sezer

Leads Network Security Systems research at CSIT. His research interests include cloud, SDN/VNF and mobile security, traffic forensics, malware analysis and high-performance networks and content processing. He has successfully managed numerous EPSRC and EU research projects comprising consortia of academic and industrial partners. His patented research has led to major advances in the field of high-performance content and security processing and is being commercialised by Titan IC Systems. He has published 146 research papers, has given many plenary and keynote talks at major international (e.g. IEEE, IET) conferences.

Prof. Weiru Liu

Is Director of Knowledge and Data Engineering research at Queen's. She has over 150 top-quality research publications and has internationally leading research expertise in data mining; agent-based event reasoning and game theoretic decision making for cyber-physical systems; intelligent autonomous systems and uncertain sensor data fusion for large, dynamic, complex control problems. Her research has been supported by EPSRC, ESRC, EU, Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering and she also collaborates extensively with industry. She is PI of an EPSRC project on develop agent based intelligent autonomous system for SCADA(e.g., power grids, EP/J012149/1), and a recently completed EPSRC project on reasoning with inconsistent knowledge (EP/D070864/1).
She is Co-I of the £6.2M ESRC funded Administrative Data Research Centre, Northern Ireland. She has been a PC member of over 90 international conferences on Artificial Intelligence, was program chair of ECSQARU11 and SUM12.

Prof. Maire O'Neill, Director of Secure Digital Systems

Is Director of Secure Digital Systems (SDS) research at Queen's. She has a strong international reputation for research on novel data security architectures and side channel analysis. She has secured over £5M of research funding as PI (including H2020, EPSRC, RAEng), publishing over 100 peer-reviewed papers including a research book on symmetric key cryptographic hardware design. She has been guest editor for a number of journals, including the IET Information Security (2005) launch issue and a special issue on cryptography in the coming decade in ACM Trans. on Embedded Computing (2014). Her research has been exploited by Amphion (now Entropic) and she has recently licensed technology to LG-CNS in collaboration with ETRI, Korea. Her many awards include an EPSRC 5-year Leadership Fellowship and a 2014 Royal Academy of Engineering Silver Medal.

Dr. Paul Miller

Leads the Intelligent Surveillance Systems research within CSIT. He has published around one hundred papers, including a best paper award, for his research on security analytics, informatics and biometrics. His current research focuses on the convergence of cyber and physical security to create a unified approach to securing cyber and physical spaces. This includes graph mining approaches to identify anomalous behaviour in physical and network access control databases. Recently he has been working in the area of identity authentication using lip-based biometrics. He has led major EPSRC, TSB, InvestNI and industry funded programmes valued at over £8M. He has extensive experience working with both multinationals and SMEs resulting in the commercialisation of IP into world leading products.

Key Engineering Staff

Mr. Gavin McWilliams (CISSP), Director of Engineering

He held senior management positions in Mobile Cohesion, Openwave Systems, Nortel Networks and BT’s Research and development division. He has over 20 years of industrial R&D experience in software product development, telecommunication and network security. He has spearheaded CSIT’s drive towards the European funding streams and is Consortium Manager of the €3.8M   Horizon 2020 SAFEcryptp project which brings together industry stalwarts Thales and RSA with key European research institutes in Germany, Switzerland and France. Gavin is a work package leader in the €3.3M FP7 SPARKS Smart Grid cyber security project, Co-I in the CAPRICA project which is part of the EPSRC Trustworthy ICS Research Institute (EP/M002837/1), and Co-I for the SRC funded malware research network NIMBUS (EP/K003445/1)


Regius Professor of Electronics and Computer Engineering
Director, Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology