Atkinson is a pioneer in the integration of programming languages and database systems. This area has been fundamental to the development of modern applied computation which is increasingly dependent on programming over large data sets and information streams. Over the past decade he has been a father figure for UK efforts to promote computation in the traditional sciences (popularly known as e-Science). In this role, he was appointed Director of the National e-Science Centre in 2001 and UK e-Science Envoy in 2006, which gave him a broad remit to promote UK activities in this area internationally and to help shape UK strategy through awareness of the developing international scene. He also directed the e-Science Institute which has provided a focus for this activity in Edinburgh. He has been co-I or PI in major research programmes in this area – not only the National e-Science Centre's programmes but also major European programmes such as EGEE and ADMIRE, and major UK programmes such as OMII-UK and SSI. In addition to his e-Science Envoy contribution, he has made numerous other contributions to the development of research strategy in e-Science nationally and internationally; for example he is a member of the JISC Board, UK Delegate to the EU’s e-Infrastructure Reflection Group and Chair of the UK e-Science Forum. Broadly within software engineering he has shaped strategy in numerous ways, for example via membership of UKCRC (the UK expert panel on computer science) and the BCS (the UK chartered institute for IT) accreditation committee.
He began his career in computing in 1966. He has worked at seven universities: Glasgow, Pennsylvania, Edinburgh, UEA, Cambridge, Rangoon and Lancaster; and for two companies: Sun Microsystems (at SunLabs in California) and O2 (an Object-Oriented DB company in its early years in Versailles). He led the development of the Department of Computing Science in Glasgow to the top research status. He returned to Edinburgh in 2001 as Director of the Mational e-Science Centre and the e-Science Institute. He was made a Professorial Fellow in the School of Informatics in 2001 and a Professor of e-Science in 2004. During his period as Director of the e-SI he promoted and maintained numerous research activities in which he was directly co-I or PI while also playing a key role in activities that enabled others at Edinburgh to obtain research funding in e-Science related areas (most notably the National e- Science Research Centre and Digital Curation Centre). He held an EPSRC Senior Research Fellowship from 2006 to 2011. He is currently a co-I or PI on a eight active research grants totalling £12m with two new EU projects starting: VERCE in October and ENVRI in November 2011.
His current research is focused on the design of data-intensive systems and languages, including EDIM1 and DISPEL, and the exploitation of data-intensive methods to discover new knowledge and improve decisions.
2005 Antonioletti, M., Atkinson, M.P., Baxter, R., Borley, A., Chue Hong, N.P., Collins, B., Hardman, N., Hume, A., Knox, A., Jackson, M., Krause, A., Laws, S., Magowan, J., Paton, N.W., Pearson, D., Sugden, T., Watson, P. & Westhead, M. The Design and Implementation of Grid Database Services in OGSA-DAI. Concurrency and Computation: Practice and Experience, 17, 357-376. DOI 10.1002/cpe.939.
2005 Atkinson, M., DeRoure, D., Dunlop, A., Fox, G., Henderson, P., Hey, A., Paton, N., Newhouse, S., Parastatidis, S., Trefethen, A. & Watson, P. Web Service Grids: an evolutionary approach. Concurrency and Computation: Practice and Experience, 17, 377-389. DOI 10.1002/cpe.936.
2003 Evans, H., Atkinson, M., Brown, M., Cargill, J., Crease, M., Draper, S., Gray, P. & Thomas, R. The pervasiveness of evolution in GRUMPS software. Software: Practice & Experience, 33, pp. 99-120. DOI 10.1002/spe.498.
2002 Hunt, E., Atkinson, M.P. & Irving, R.W. Database indexing for large DNA and protein sequence collections. The VLDB Journal, Vol. 11, pp. 256-271. DOI 10.1007/s007780200064.