Dr John Easton MEng, PhD, MCMI, MIET, MIEEE

John Easton

Department of Electronic, Electrical and Systems Engineering

Contact details

School of Electronic, Electrical and Systems Engineering
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr John Easton is a Lecturer working with the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education at the University of Birmingham. His research interests centre on methods for the storage, processing and display of railway related datasets – in particular data representation and exchange via ontologies, manipulation and integration of data relevant to the multimodal transport system, and cyber security in industrial control systems.


  • PhD in “Optimised analysis and visualisation of metabolic data using graph theoretical approaches”, University of Birmingham (2009)
  • MEng (Hons) in Computer Systems Engineering with Management, University of Birmingham (2004)
  • Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
  • Member of the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET)
  • Member of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI)


John graduated from the School of Electronic, Electrical and Computer Engineering at University of Birmingham in 2004 with a MEng (Hons) in Computer Systems Engineering with Management. He then went on to spend five years in the same School working on his PhD, which was co-supervised by the School of Biosciences and Birmingham Children’s Hospital. He graduated again in 2009.

Between 2008 and 2009, while completing his PhD thesis, John worked with the Biomedical Informatics, Signals and Systems research lab at the University of Birmingham, where his research resulted in a novel analysis tool for metabolic networks. During this time he was involved in the development of an internationally recognised XML standard for the exchange of NMR Metabolomics data, along with the Birmingham Metabolite Library, a collection of reference spectra for 2D j-res NMR Metabolomics. Other collaborative work during this period included the EU-funded HealthAgents and InLot projects.

In 2009, on completion of his PhD, John transferred to the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education where he leads the railway data group. His work in the rail domain has included the data management components of the TRIME third-rail monitoring system, which in 2012 was the joint winner of the Stephenson Award for Engineering Innovation at the National Rail Awards, and a range of EU-funded projects including INTERAIL, AUTOMAIN, OnTime and Capacity4Rail. On a day-to-day basis, John is heavily involved in the Centre’s £1.65 million Strategic Partnership with Network Rail on the theme of data management and integration.

Postgraduate supervision

John currently co-supervises 3 PhD students:
Chris Morris
John Stafford
Jonathan Tutcher (writing up)


Research Themes

  • Railways
  • Data management and integration
  • Data modelling
  • Intelligent transport systems
  • Cyber security
  • Bioinformatics (metabolic networks)

Other activities

Member of the IET Railway Technical and Professional Network (TPN) Executive Team – January 2015 to present.


Journal Article – Golightly, D., Easton, J.M., Roberts, C., and Sharples, S. (2013) “Applications, value and barriers of common data frameworks in the rail industry of Great Britain.” The Journal of Rail and Rapid Transit, vol. 227, no. 6, pp. 693–703.

Journal Article – Ludwig, C., Easton, J.M., Lodi, A., Tiziani, S., Manzoor, S., Southam, A.D., Byrne, J.J., Bishop, L.M., He, S., Arvanitis, T.N., Günther, U.L., and Viant, M.R. (2012) “Birmingham Metabolite Library: A publicaly accessible database of 1-D 1H and 2-D 1H J-resolved NMR spectra of authentic metabolite standards (BML-NMR).” Metabolomics, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 8–18.

Journal Article – Gibb, A., Easton, J., Davies, N., Sun, Y., MacPherson, L., Natarajan, K., Arvanitis, T., and Peet, A. (2011) “The development of a graphical user interface, functional elements and classifiers for the non-invasive characterisation of childhood brain tumours using magnetic resonance spectroscopy.” The Knowledge Engineering Review, vol. 26, no. 3, pp. 353–363.

Journal Article – Easton, J.M., Davies, J.R., and Roberts, C. (2011) “Ontology engineering: The “what’s”, “why’s” and “how’s” of data exchange.” The International Journal of Decision Support System Technology, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 40–53.

Journal Article – Easton, J.M., Harris, L.M., Viant, M.R., Peet, A.C., and Arvanitis, T.N. (2010) “Linked Metabolites: A tool for the construction of directed metabolic graphs.” Computers in Biology and Medicine, vol. 40, no. 3, pp. 340–349.

Journal Article – Southam, A.D., Easton, J.M., Stentiford, G.D., Ludwig, C., Arvanitis, T.N., and Viant, M.R. (2008) “Metabolic changes in flatfish hepatic tumours revealed by NMR-based metabolomics and metabolic correlation networks.” Journal of Proteome Research, vol. 7, no. 12, pp. 5277–5285.

Journal Article – Rubtsov, D.V., Jenkins, H., Ludwig, C., Easton, J., Viant, M.R., Günther, U., Griffin, J.L., and Hardy, N. (2007) “Proposed reporting requirements for the description of NMR-based metabolomics experiments.” Metabolomics, vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 223–229.

Industry Report – Tutcher, J., Easton, J., Myall, R., Hargreaves, M., Tiller, C., and Roberts, C. (2014) “Ontology-based data management
for the GB rail industry”. Produced with funding from the FuTRO Universal Data Challenge. Available from http://www.sparkrail.org [Accessed 2nd June 2015].

Industry Report – Easton, J.M., and Roberts, C. (2013) “RSSB Cross-industry Railway Information Systems Workshop - Summary Report” Produced for the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB). Available from http://tinyurl.com/nbybrlw [Accessed 2nd June 2015].

Industry Report – Roberts, C., Easton, J.M., Davies, R., Sharples, S., and Golightly, D. (2011) “The Specification of a System-wide Data Framework for the Railway Industry - Final Report.” Produced as part of the Rail Research UK Association (RRUK-A) “Factor 20” Feasibility Studies Project with Funding from EPSRC (EP/H024743/1). Available from http://tinyurl.com/ogc2znv [Accessed 2nd June 2015].

Details of additional industry reports and publications in press may be found on John’s personal web pages – http://www.eee.bham.ac.uk/eastonjm/