Environmental impacts of computing in
health & life sciences research

Are you a health or life sciences researcher who uses computing in your work?
Are you concerned about the carbon footprint of your research?

Join us for a free workshop on Greener Research Computing for Health & Life Sciences at the Wellcome Trust in London


Thank you to everyone who attended the first EIC workshop. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

Copies of the slides and recordings of the presentations are available under resources.

In the meantime, we are building a community focused on promoting environmentally sustainable computational research. To join, please fill out the this brief google form.

Click here to download a digital version of the full workshop programme

The first Environmental Impacts of Computing in Health & Life Sciences Research Workshop will take place on the 7th of November, 2023.

When: 7th of November, 2023 from 10am to 4pm GMT

Where: Wellcome Trust (London, UK) and online

Format: Hybrid (in person and online), free (registration required)

Research has a large role to play in combating the climate crisis, but research processes also have a significant carbon footprint. Computations in particular are now an integral part of research in health and life sciences, but also come with large and underestimated environmental costs. When considering computer manufacturing, and the energy required to store and process data, it becomes crucial to acknowledge and mitigate the contribution of our research to climate change.

The ICT sector (Information and Communication Technologies) is responsible for an estimated 1.8-3.9% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than the aviation sector. Data centres around the world have a yearly carbon footprint of around 100 MT CO2e, equivalent to US commercial aviation. Since the impact from computing of a single life science experiment can reach tonnes of CO2e, it becomes crucial that we acknowledge and mitigate the impacts of our work. And as the people who best understand our own work, we are ideally placed to do so.

As the need for computational power in research grows, including increasing adoption of AI tools, we must address the challenges and opportunities in making scientific research computing more sustainable.

About this event

This free one-day workshop will include presentations from practising health and life scientists, success stories of more environmentally-friendly computing and group discussions. Topics will include the carbon footprint of high-performance computing, energy-efficient data processing pipelines, and the benefits of efficient programming.

By attending this event, you will:

  • Learn how to reduce the carbon footprint of your own research computing, also giving you the ability to feed these insights back to your institution.

  • Debate what barriers to sustainable computing exist and work towards potential solutions.

  • Network with other health and life sciences researchers interested in reducing the carbon footprint of their computing, providing new opportunities for collaboration.

  • Contribute to an emerging community of climate-conscious scientists.

We are holding the workshop in person to facilitate discussion and debate, and bursaries are available to support attendees who wouldn't be able to join otherwise (more on this below). In addition, to maximise accessibility, this event will be hybrid, with an option to join via video conferencing, including a live stream, and opportunities to ask questions and engage in group discussion.

Who is it for?

This workshop is for researchers in the health and life sciences (e.g. neuroimaging, biology, biochemistry, genetics) who use heavy computational resources for their work (i.e. analyses that run for several hours and/or use institutional servers). It will also be relevant to researchers from other fields of science who rely on heavy computation, or for stakeholders involved with academic research that relies on heavy computation (e.g. funders, institutional IT service providers).

On the other hand, if your computing usage is mostly word/excel/web browser, then computing is probably a minor part of your carbon footprint and this may not be the most relevant to you (but you are very welcome if you're interested in the topic anyway!).

Importantly, you don't need any prior knowledge of sustainability to come, or expertise in computer science. An interest in reducing the carbon footprint of your research is all you need!

If you have any questions, please contact the workshop organiser Dr Nick Souter at N.Souter@sussex.ac.uk and we look forward to seeing you on 7th November.


This free one-day event will provide opportunities for education and discussion, as well as facilitation of new collaborations. The schedule is as follows:

10:00–11:20 Session 1 - The Big Picture
Opening remarks: Why the environmental impact of computing matters for health & life scientists
Charlotte Rae, University of Sussex
How the environmental impacts of research are currently being addressed (role of funders and institutions)
Gabrielle Samuel, King's College London
Advancing environmentally sustainable research at Wellcome
Talia Caplan, Wellcome
Addressing environmental impacts in the lab
Martin Farley, GreenLab Associates; University College London
11:40–13:00 Session 2 - The Technical Side
The carbon footprint of high-performance computing
Loïc Lannelongue, University of Cambridge
The UKRI Net Zero Digital Research Infrastructure (DRI) scoping project
Miranda MacFarlane, King's College London
Reducing the carbon footprint of digital pipelines: A case study
Nick Souter, University of Sussex
The benefits of efficient programming
Lincoln Colling, Software Sustainability Institute
13:00–14:00Meat-free lunch
14:00–15:00 Session 3 - Breakout Discussion
Separate moderated group discussions concerning steps you can take in your own work to reduce the carbon footprint of your computing, as well as barriers and potential solutions
15:30–16:00 Session 4 - Feedback
Feedback from group discussions summarised by table moderators, followed by closing remarks.


Attendance is free and a (meat-free) lunch and coffee breaks will be provided.

Registration is required for both in person and online attendees. In-person places are limited, so please only register for in-person attendance if you intend and have the capacity to join. If your plans change, please let us know as soon as possible so we can give your space to someone else. For online attendees, stream links will be provided to those registered.

To register for online or in-person attendance at this event, please go here. Registration will close on 24th October. If attempting to register after this date, please email us to enquire about spaces on the waiting list.


We have funds available to support travel to the workshop, and we welcome applications. To apply for a travel bursary, please complete this form to provide some information and demonstrate how these funds would help you (application deadline 17th October). The funds can include support for 1 night accommodation. We encourage attendees to travel in a climate-responsible way, using public transport, and avoiding aviation. We are therefore not able to reimburse air travel to this event.

Code of Conduct

This workshop is dedicated to providing a harassment-free workshop experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, ethnicity, religion (or lack thereof), or technology choices. We will not tolerate harassment of workshop participants or disorderly or disruptive conduct in any form. Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate for any workshop venue, including talks, X (Twitter), and other online media. Workshop participants violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the workshop at the discretion of the workshop organisers. If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact a member of workshop staff immediately.


Below you can find recordings of the talks and links to the slides.

For an example of the kind of topics we'll be covering, check out this short video from one of our workshop organisers: