A LARGS scientists has told how he played a key role making London a safer place during the pandemic.

Professor Mark Girolami, who is a former Largs Academy pupil, has been appointed chief scientist at the UK's Alan Turing Institute.

He has been handed the newly-created role at the prestigious academic centre of excellence which carries out pioneering research into Alzheimer's disease, health and social care, and the impact of Covid-19 on the country.

Mark will have responsibility for the creation and delivery of the institute’s scientific and innovation strategy - and revealed to the news how he also helped revise London's transport strategy to help the capital as it was gripped by coronavirus.

He told the News: "One of the big things we did during lockdown was we worked with Transport for London and the mayor's office and analysed the level of compliance of lockdown.

"We took videos of all 1,000 traffic cameras in London to count the number of cars, bikes and people and we wrapped that into a big report for Public Health England. We then measured the levels of social distancing and whether people were adhering to social distancing and whether streets allowed them to do so.

"We fed that to the Transport of London who made interventions such as moving bus stops and widening pedestrian access. A total of 700 interventions being made and was a really important example of what the Turing Institute can do to make people's lives better and help reduce the spread of Covid.

"We have a very wide scope and we have also been working closely with NHS Scotland too."

The 57-year-old is a globally renowned research leader whose expertise spans the fields of computing science, statistical science, applied mathematics and engineering.

Mark has held senior academic professorial posts in some of the UK’s world leading universities, and in addition, brings a wealth of industrial, business, and commercial experience to the role, having worked for a decade with IBM as a chartered engineer.

Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK Government's chief scientific adviser, said: “Warm congratulations go to Mark for being appointed to this role during a pivotal moment for data science in the UK."

Mark's family still live in Largs, including father Santino, mum Maria and sister Lisa. The professor is a former member of Largs Boys' Brigade and the Round Table.

In March 2019 he was elected to the Sir Kirby Laing Professorship of Civil Engineering (1965) within the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge where he also holds the Royal Academy of Engineering Research Chair in Data Centric Engineering.

He is also a fellow of Christ’s College Cambridge and the Royal Society of Edinburgh.