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Dr Massimo Stella

Lecturer in Computer Science (E&R)


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My current position is a lectureship in Computer Science and my research focuses on cognitive data science and complex networks. I also lead the CogNosco Lab, working on knowledge modelling, cognitive data science and natural language processing (NLP).

As a cognitive data scientist, my research aims at developing models of clinical/cognitive traits and emotional profiling via multi-layer networks, machine learning and Big Data.

CV in Brief: Experienced Researcher (10 yrs), Project Manager (4 yrs) and Scientific Communicator (8 yrs)

I have 42 publications, 835 citations, 4 yrs of post-PhD project management in R&D, 100k EUR of competitive research funds secured. My research outputs are available here: - Highest Research Impact: 9.5 (first-author PNAS paper).

My research at the interface of clinical/cognitive psychology and applied physics got me the following awards of excellence in research, issued by the Italian Ministry of Education (MIUR) after a highly competitive selection process:

  • National Scientific Habilitation to Associate Professor in General Psychology, Psychobiology and Psychometrics (11/E1) – (2021);
  • National Scientific Habilitation to Associate Professor in Applied Physics, Didactics and History of Physics (02/D1) – (2021).


My research produced impact in terms of creating a complex systems outreach project (Complex Forma Mentis), contributing to booklet on complexity science translated in 8 languages (, securing and achieving innovation projects in e-health for 10k EUR, and producing a pedagogic e-book on A-level physics.

I hold a PhD in Complex Systems Simulation (University of Southampton, UK), formally trained in Educational Psychology (Università D. Alighieri, Italy).

I hold an MSc in Physics (Università del Salento, Italy) with a focus on random matrix theory, non-extensive statistics and growing network models.

An alumnus of the Santa Fe Institute, I also served as Steering Committee member for 3 years for the Winter Workshop on Complex Systems series, which I co-founded.

I am an experienced scientific communicator, with 56 contributions to conferences, 39 contributed talks, 17 posters, 4 keynote talks and 19 Invited seminars at Universities/Companies.

Research Interests:

I work on knowledge representations and language modelling through approaches that combine and develop tools from quantitative areas like complex networks, machine learning and social media mining. In my data-driven investigations, I am guided by theoretical models from computational cognitive science, neuroscience and psycholinguistics.

I find the synergy of cognitive theory, i.e. how cognition works, and quantitative tools from AI and data science a fascinating research area, where I would be glad to supervise and work with prospective students.

Before joining the Department of Computer Science at the University of Exeter I worked as a research data scientist and founded my own business for scientific consulting, Complex Science Consulting, which collaborated with several international partners and innovative startups.

Latest Selected Publications:

Revealing semantic and emotional structure of suicide notes with cognitive network science - S. A. Teixeira, S. Talaga, T. J. Swanson and M. Stella, Scientific Reports (2021):

Cognitive network science for understanding online social cognitions: A brief review - M. Stella, Topics in Cognitive Science (2021):