Informatics Newsletter April 2022
Issue 56 of our School newsletter for students and staff.
A Message from the Head of School
As the main teaching part of the academic year comes to an end, and for many of us thoughts turn towards exams and other dreaded obligations, it was a real pleasure in the middle of April to put all worries aside for one evening and attend the Informatics Ball at the Balmoral Hotel. This was the perfect opportunity to get dressed up and forget about work for one very enjoyable evening. Neil Heatley’s wife captured a picture of Neil and I doing the Gay Gordons in the Ceilidh. Many thanks to all the students involved in the organisation of the Ball, especially Kim Stonehouse.
Another treat this month was the SDP Fair that took place on Friday 8th April in the Appleton Tower. The final day of the System Design Project is always one of the highlights of the year for me. It is truly inspirational to see the results of the creativity and dedication that the third year students put into their projects to develop assistive robots. It is a reminder that Informatics has the ability to change the world for the better. Many thanks to Steve Tonneau and all the SDP team for running the course this year and to all the student who took part and demonstrated their projects on 8th April. There was a great deal of originality this year with projects addressing a wide range of topics, from soil health to fire safety, and capabilities from page turning to leg massage. I really appreciated the enthusiasm with which many students explained their devices to me.
Of course, these events mean that for the undergraduates the end of the academic year is in sight, and for some the only thing between them and graduation is the final exam diet. I wish them, and everyone else taking exams, all the very best.
With best wishes,
Steven Chein started as a Research Associate in ICSA on 01 April 2022.
Waleed Ahsan started as a Research Associate in ICSA on 01 April 2022.
Ricardo Contreras started as a Research Associate in AIAI on 04 April 2022.
Professional Services Staff
Dimitrios Rakovitis started as Senior Computing Support Officer on 11 April 2022.
Kasia Stoinska started as an Admin Services Manager on 11 April 2022.
Iain Carson started as University Teacher in Data Visualisation on 18 April 2022.
Una Europa One Health Summer School - applications now open
Applications are now open to attend the first Una Europa One Health Summer School, an exciting, funded opportunity to connect with your fellow Una Europa students for two eye-opening weeks at the University of Edinburgh from 25 July to 5 August 2022.
What is One Health? One Health works towards achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs) and explores how the health of humans, animals, other organisms, and the environment are inextricably linked. This is a perfect opportunity for students specialising in the life sciences, public health, and social sciences to take part and explore.
The Una Europa One Health Summer School will bring together students and staff from across our Alliance and beyond to explore these interdisciplinary issues and work towards building solutions together. You will develop your knowledge of One Health and/ or Planetary Health by tackling a related global challenge, working with other undergraduate students from European and International universities to develop and pitch an idea.
Informatics 23rd in the world for Computer Science
We are proud to be ranked 23rd in the world for Computer Science in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022.
Research Data Management
New Open Access policies and compliance guidance for Informatics researchers
This is a reminder that from 1 April 2022 two new policies governing Open Access were introduced; the UKRI Open Access policy which applies to all UKRI funded research, and the University’s Research Publications and Copyright policy which applies to UoE members of staff with a responsibility for research. The RDM team have put together some guidance to help Informatics researchers comply with these policies which includes a FAQ for any common issues that arise.
If there are any concerns about these new policies, please contact Sam or Andrew in the RDM team and they will be happy to help.
As always, please continue to send details of any new papers as soon as possible after receiving notification of acceptance.
Ethics office hours
The Informatics ethics committee will continue to hold an office hour every first Monday of the month, 4pm-5pm (2 May, 6 June). These sessions are attended by one member of the ethics committee. Staff and students are welcome to join the office hour via the Teams link below and to discuss questions around ethics and ethics applications.
Please take the time to review the information available on our pages before attending, including the FAQs.
Students should discuss specific ethics questions with their supervisor before attending the office hour (open to both students and supervisors).
The School of Informatics are currently recruiting for a range of posts in Research, Academic and Professional Services. See current vacancies on our website and apply through the central University of Edinburgh Jobs webpage with vacancy reference number.
School Mental Health First Aiders
Within the School we have a network of Mental Health First Aiders for both staff and students. We are currently looking for new volunteers to join this network, particularly any research or academic staff.
The aim of this training is to look at ways to help others (and yourselves) in the event of anyone developing a mental health problem, experiencing a worsening of an existing mental health problem or in a mental health crisis until appropriate professional help is received or the crisis resolves. Mental Health First Aiders are there to listen, to understand and to signpost where appropriate.
If you would like to put yourself forward please email Sam Inch.
Stress Awareness Month
April is Stress Awareness Month. The University HR team are collating themed support to help to reduce stigma about mental health and wellbeing at work, and are inviting interested leaders and managers to get involved in shaping this work.
There are a number of ways you can get involved:
- Review the Health & Wellbeing Thematic Support by clicking on the link below, and provide input into how to make this more engaging: Health & Wellbeing Thematic Support
- Get trained up to facilitate conversations on Health & Wellbeing
- Attend the pilot of the sessions HR are offering in collaboration with Positive and shape the offer available to leaders and managers.
You can find out more about these sessions and book a place by clicking on the link below.
The University offers a Staff Counselling Service to all staff. However as there can be a high demand on this service at times and in order to provide additional support to staff, the University Staff Counselling Service is currently working in partnership with MCL Medics to offer counselling appointments, through the introduction of the Employee Assistance Programme.
What is an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)?
An Employee Assistance Programme is an employee benefit programme that aims to support employees with personal problems and/or work related problems that may impact their job performance, health, mental and emotional well being.
EAPs are often delivered by external providers to large organisations such as the University. The primary aim of this EAP is to provide access to more counselling appointments. However, there are some additional related benefits within the EAP which some staff may find useful.
How does it work?
From November 2021 you will be able to access up to 6 free counselling sessions (Short Term Therapy), with trained MCL Medics Counsellors, through this Employee Assistance Programme. This support will be in place until November 2022.
- Counselling through MCL Medics is available free of charge to all staff (with a staff number), plus any partners or dependents over the age of 18 (living under the same roof)
- The sessions are delivered by telephone and video counselling (not face-to-face)
- The counselling available is “time limited” targeted therapy, the same as that offered by the University, which means it is delivered within a set allocation of sessions, to a maximum of 6 sessions.
- The counselling is tailored and suited to supporting you with singular presenting issues that affect your daily living and ability to maintain good well-being in work.
- By using this external provider, staff will experience a much shorter waiting time for their counselling service to commence.
- At times you may be signposted to other services depending on your needs, and that will be explained at the time of your first call
Informatics student is a finalist for the targetjobs Undergraduate of the Year Awards 2022
Second-year BSc Computer Science and Management Science student, Marian Bitsika, is amongst those in the running to become the next Undergraduate of the Year. The award ceremony takes place on 29th April.
Informatics student accepts place at University of Pennsylvania with Thouron Award scholarship
Computer Science student, Matt Timmons-Brown, has been offered a graduate place at the University of Pennsylvania for the MSE Robotics/AI. The degree and living costs will be funded by a successful application for The Thouron Award scholarship.
The Thouron Award is a prestigious postgraduate scholarship established in 1960 by Sir John R.H. Thouron, K.B.E., and Esther du Pont Thouron. It was created to strengthen the "special relationship" between the United States and the United Kingdom through educational exchange between British universities and the University of Pennsylvania.
I am over the moon to be offered a place at UPenn, and extremely grateful to the Thouron family for providing me with full funding - without which my study would not be possible. I look forward to continuing the Computer Science education that I have started here in Informatics and meeting new faculty, peers, and fellow scholars during my time at UPenn. The program will expose me to graduate-level courses in a range of advanced areas, potential further research, as well as entrepreneurial opportunities.
Matt graduates from the School of Informatics this summer and will begin his degree at the University of Pennsylvania this Autumn.
Informatics students showcase assistive robotics at SDP Course Trade Fair
3rd-year Informatics students have been working all semester on their System Design Projects - and on Friday 8th April, the public were given the chance to see what they have accomplished at the annual showcase held at Appleton Tower.
Elham Kashefi helps to achieve the next milestone for quantum computing
Elham Kashefi, Professor of Quantum Computing at the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh and senior science lead on the UK Quantum Computing and Simulation Hub is part of the consortium that aims to build a system capable of controlling hundreds of qubits simultaneously across different types of quantum hardware. The project paves the way for quantum computers to reach their full potential and is expected to transform industries such as materials development, drug discovery, and finance.
"Over the last decade verification has been developed as a framework to certify a correct outcome in a passive way. In this project we have the ambition and the opportunity to dig deeper not only to perform the health checks at the application layer, but also to mitigate noise at the lowest hardware layer to cure outcome based on the results of the test obtained through verification in a dynamic way." - Elham Kashefi
Equality, diversity and inclusion changemakers from Informatics
Many congratulations to Jonathan McBride and Rob Court from the School of Informatics, recognised Social Responsibility and Sustainability at Edinburgh University as our equality, diversity and inclusion changemakers in the Sustainability Awards 2021-22.
Jonathan MacBride is a recipient for demonstrating exceptional leadership as the Co-Chair of the Staff Pride Network.
Rob Court is a recipient for demonstrating exceptional leadership as the Co-Comms & Media Officer for the Staff Pride Network
Quantum Spies at the Edinburgh Science Festival
Informatics researchers returned to the Edinburgh Science Festival with an activity for children aged 8-12 at the National Museum of Scotland. Chris Heunen, Nuiok Dicaire and volunteers from Quantum Informatics will be running a week-long drop-in activity called "Quantum Spies". The event took place from 9 to 13 April. Participants were encouraged to explore the mysteries of quantum informatics, discover hidden messages, cover their tracks, and intercept secret communications in order to earn a quantum spy licence.
Data scientists collaborate with artists to explore global climate data
Experts from the School of Informatics have lent their skills to help develop a new interactive climate AI platform in a fascinating project, that’s bringing scientists and artist together to explore global climate data.
The New Real Observatory is an experiential AI' system produced collaboratively between artists and data scientists from Edinburgh University’s EPCC, School of Informatics and Edinburgh College of Art. ‘TNRO’ invites leading digital artists to experiment with environmental datasets, climate models and processing pipelines to fuel a new generation of technology-conscious aesthetics situated in our connection with land, water, air and energy.
John Vines to co-lead new Centre for Investing Innovation
Professor John Vines, Chair of Design Informatics in the School of Informatics, Is set to co-direct the new Centre for Investing Innovation with funding of £7.5 million over five years provided by the global asset manager, abrdn.
Elham Kashefi quoted in quantum technologies article by Yahoo Finance
Research from Capgemini identifies 23% of organisations globally plan to use quantum technologies, moving from scientific research into real-world solutions.
Elham Kashefi, Professor of Quantum Computing at the School of Informatics, gives her insight on the matter in an article published by Yahoo Finance.
ELLIS Doctoral Symposium 2022
19 - 23 September 2022, in-person Alicante, Spain
The ELLIS Doctoral Symposium is an annual conference for ELLIS PhD students and other PhDs in the network to meet in person and share knowledge about Machine Learning. The ELLIS Doctoral Symposium 2022 (EDS22) is the second edition, and will be held in Alicante, Spain. It is expected to host 200 attendees during one week in September. The conference will take place from the 19th to the 23th of September. Apply by Friday 20 May.
The theme of this conference is AI for Good.
Outreach and Public Engagement
If you have participated in an outreach and public engagement activity in the last six months, please make sure it has been recorded by the Comms team in the directory below.
If you need to add an entry, would like to get involved in a public engagement activity or promote an opportunity that you are aware of, please use the webform below.
Maths Week Scotland
Maths Week Scotland runs from 26 September to 2 October 2022
If you're interested in participating, get in touch with Katie Oldfield, Maths Week Scotland Co-ordinator
Consultation Event: Public Engagement and the Future Research Assessment Programme
As part of the Future Research Assessment Programme (FRAP), the four UK funding bodies (Research England, Scottish Funding Council, Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland) are seeking views on the design of the UK’s future research assessment system. The consultation closes on May 6th 2022.
The consultation asks:
- The purposes of a future exercise
- The principles that should guide its development
- The assessment criteria and processes
This event will provide the opportunity to shape the NCCPE’s response to the consultation, working with colleagues from across the sector to consider how best to embed considerations about public engagement into the design of future research assessments.
Monday, April 25, 2022 - 2:00pm to 4:30pm
Staff Training Courses
We now have a page listing training courses attended by staff. You can submit your own feedback on a particular training you attended.
Best of InfGeneral
This month's Best of Inf-general award goes to Amos Storkey for sharing a review of a Doodle Polls substitute: Straw Poll.
In Amos's words: it's got 'similar functionality, no registration required for users, allows updates, allows poll proposers to also add their availability, allows removing maybe option, allows one selection maximum, enables copy-forward to next day etc.). Some slight differences (main downside is no drag-click calendar selection), but for us, way better than the new doodle poll.
Inf-general is a mailing list used to carry informal discussions, postings, requests to and from staff within Informatics. Not for official purposes. Julian Bradfield is the guardian of inf-general who steps in to point out misuses and confirm when inf-general should most definitely be used. If you’re new to Informatics inf-general emails can be a great source of knowledge for you: ask and you will be informed, but do remember to share the information back with the mailing list users.
Keep in Touch
For all the latest news, keep an eye on our website and social media channels!
The newsletter is produced by the Informatics Communications Team.
We welcome stories from all staff and students!