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Our leadership team & expertise

The Administrative Data Service is built on expertise from across the UK, led by academics and senior staff at the partner universities, with decades of experience between them in undertaking research using data and in managing access to data and advising on data safety and privacy.

Melanie Wright, Director

Melanie oversees communications and public engagement, project management, and Network policy and protocol coordination. She represents the Network on the Governing Board as an ex-officio member, and works with government departments to expand access to administrative data.

Melanie has worked at the UK Data Archive since 1996. She is associate director of the Archive, and functional director of the UK Data Service, where she leads on secure data access and data ingest. She also sits on the Expert Advisory Group on Data Access, convened jointly by the Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council and Economic and Social Research Council to advise funders on issues involved in data access for research.


Tanvi Desai, Co-director

Tanvi is responsible for overseeing the experience of researchers using the Network, working with a team to make sure the process is straightforward, secure and robust. She takes the lead in negotiating with public bodies (data custodians) for access to administrative data.

Tanvi has a long history in the field of data research, including over a decade as Data Manager at the London School of Economics Research Laboratory. She has been a member of the advisory committees of the Secure Data Service and the Economic and Social Data Service. She has advised UK and international government departments and statistical offices on secure data access, and was a founder of the Working Group on Secure Data Access and an advisory member on data access of the UK Administrative Data Taskforce.


Mark Elliot, Co-director

Mark is a senior lecturer at the School of Social Sciences at the University of Manchester. He specialises in statistical confidentiality, managing research projects in this field, and is co-authoring a book on the subject. He has worked as a consultant to data stewardship organisations worldwide, and has invented methods for assessing disclosure risk.

Mark has worked since 1996 in Manchester’s Centre for Census and Survey Research, now part of the university’s Cathie Marsh Institute for Social Research. He was the Centre’s Director from 2005-08, and has led many research projects in this field. Mark leads the UK Anonymisation Network and is recognised internationally as an expert on data anonymisation.


Matthew Woollard, Co-Investigator

Matthew is a Co-Investigator for the Administrative Data Service as well as being the Director of the UK Data Archive and the UK Data Service. At the Archive, he promotes best practice in data curation, data management and data security. He is also responsible for driving innovation and continuously improving the infrastructure of data services.

Matthew served on the Expert Advisory Group to the Administrative Data Task Force and gave evidence to the Expert Advisory Group on Data Access. He is the UK representative on the Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives, and sits on the Council for the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research and on the governing board of the DataSafe, the South African secure data enclave. He created the blueprint for the UK Data Archive’s information security policy and led the Archive through its first audit for ISO 27001. Matthew also worked with the Economic and Social Research Council and the Office for National Statistics on the first overarching breaches policy for the Secure Data Service.


Chris Dibben, Director of ADRC Scotland

Chris Dibben is the Director of the Administrative Data Research Centre for Scotland. He is also the Chair in Geography at the University of Edinburgh and part of the Geography and the Lived Environment research institute and the Director of the ESRC′s Administrative Data Liaison Service. His research interests include poverty, deprivation and inequalities; evaluating area-based initiatives; small area statistics; risk, vulnerability and hazards. He has worked on, among other subjects: epidemiological studies into recovery after heart attacks; the causes of low birth weight; the survival of drug misusers; the impact of air pollution.


Felix Ritchie, Associate Professor of Applied Economics, University of the West of England

Felix has worked in a range of public and private sector organisations in the UK and abroad. He joined the University of the West of England (UWE) in 2012, and has research interests in the use, quality and accessibility of government data, and its policy application; labour economics, particularly low pay; industrial economics; data confidentiality, security and access; alcohol and drugs policies. He has extensive experience of working with government departments to make sure research is relevant, policy-oriented and accessible to non-specialists.

For nine years before joining UWE, he was a senior economist at the UK Office for National Statistics, where he developed a model for research access to data which has been widely adopted across the world, and which forms the basis for the Eurostat regulations. He was UK expert on the European Statistical System’s projects on statistical disclosure control, data access, and data warehousing, and has been an expert for Eurostat and the OECD.


Page last updated: 05/05/2017