Informatics Newsletter February 2017

Issue 5 of our School newsletter for staff and students.

Updates from School General Meeting

A healthy representation of school staff gathered for the School meeting on 2nd February 2017. Stuart Anderson deputised for Johanna who was off sick; Martin Wright, Björn Franke, Bob Fisher (stepping in for Nigel Topham) and Kami Vaniea also presented.


On a positive note, all is well in Informatics with new recruitment plans including Director of Commercialisation in the pipeline, strong numbers of student uptake, increase in funding for PhDs and Appleton Tower refurbishments progressing. However, there is still a high level of uncertainty for HE around Brexit.  It was announced that Professor Peter Mathieson, currently President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong, has been appointed as the next Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh. Professor Mathieson’s background is in medical research and teaching, specialising in renal medicine, and before taking up the post in Hong Kong he was Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Bristol for six years. He holds a First Class Honours degree in Medicine from the University of London and a PhD from the University of Cambridge, where he later went on to become Director of Studies for Clinical Medicine at Christ’s College.

New Staff

We’ve had a number of new academic appointments (and some soon-to-start):

New academic staff at the School of Informatics
  • Walid Magdy - Lecturer in Multimedia Information Retrieval - 28 Oct 16
  • Pramod Bhatotia – Senior Lecturer in Computer Systems Architecture - 31 Oct 16
  • Ivan Titov - Reader in Natural Language Processing - 1 Mar 17
  • Benjamin Bach - Lecturer in Design Informatics and Visualisation - 10 Apr 17
  • Dorota Glowacka - Lecturer in Machine Learning - 1 June 2017

…and in other areas:

Student Services

  • Robert Armitage – Teaching Organisation Secretary
  • Alexandra Welsh – Teaching Support Administrator
  • Vicky MacTaggart – Studentships and Teaching Support Manager
  • Stacey Rudkin – Recruitment Administrator (IGS) 20 Feb

Administration and Research Services

  • Nicola Drago-Ferrante – Institute Administrator
  • Alistair Hill – Research Data Manager
  • Julie Laidlaw – Finance Administrator

Facilities and Technical Services

  • Carol Marini – Facilities Secretary


  • Kasia Kokowska – Communications and Outreach Manager
  • Ségolène Gallus – Web and Social Media Co-ordinator

Staff transferring from fixed term to open ended contracts

  • Carrie McNamee – Portfolio Manager
  • Khush Joshi – Finance Administrator
  • Samantha Black – Senior Administrative Assistant (HR)

School plan

Our new School Plan recognises ‘People’ as a key enabler and puts greater emphasis on staff development. The main objectives for the forthcoming years are to promote Informatics as a coherent area of academic research, learning and innovation and enhance our international leadership role in Informatics, including retaining the leading position in the UK. The School Strategy & Plan is available for you to download.

Workload model 

Björn gave an update on the revised Teaching and Admin Workload Model. The model needed an update to address increased student numbers and changes to course credit point values, but in principle the model has not changed and all academic staff contribute to both teaching and admin.

Policy & Teaching & Workload Model

Recruitment update 

We are expanding: a number of academic posts within the School are being advertised at the moment.

Appleton Tower update 

It’s a very tight schedule! Internal works start in March 2017, phased handover (teaching floors will be a priority) will happen over the summer (August to September 2017). Level five refurbishment is planned for the summer 2018.

Projects for level 9 of Appleton Tower

Graduate School update 

There is a total of 273 postgraduate students int he School of Informatics and the forecast for 2017/18 looks bright, with more funding.

Equality and Diversity Committee update

School of Informatics has been successful in its re-submission for Athena SWAN Silver Award (there will be celebrations on 24th February, so watch this space!). All staff members who are involved in external E&D committees and projects, are requested to get in touch with Kami Vaniea ( E&D have a blog that you’re welcome to check, there’s also E&D library in MF1.  An event to honour the International Women’s Day is planned for 8th March.

Equality & Diversity Blog

In other news

Public Engagement

Two festivals are coming up and the School of Informatics staff are involved:

The Edinburgh IoT Challenge

Learn to Code

Data and Democracy

Paul Patras - BCS Sidney Michaelson Memorial Lecture "Wearables That Snitch on Us" - 3rd April in Summerhall

Museum Drop-in Sessions:

- Areti Manataki - Coding Workshop

-James Garforth (Robotics - Robot Lab / Marty Activate)

Service Excellence Programme – February 2017 Update

To support our strategic goals and to deliver world class teaching and research, the University has committed to a review of key professional service functions to ensure that we get the best from the sum of our efforts by building effective and efficient services.   The Service Excellence Programme has been making good progress over the last couple of months.   To help keep people updated about the progress check out the blog:

Service Excellence Programme Blog

The University is taking part in a series of events to mark LGBT+ History Month 2017

The University’s Staff Pride Network committee has partnered with EUSA and student societies to organise the calendar of seminars and social events. Film screenings, discussions, an open mic night and a Valentine’s Day Ball feature in the programme for February. The rainbow flag will fly above Old College and Teviot for the month.

LGBT+ History month Event Calendar

The University's Main Library is to open 24/7 from 20 March

The new opening times will provide students with a staffed, secure and accessible environment for individual study, or to host group study session.

Official statement concerning the library

Courses & Training

Title More information
First Steps into Leadership and Management Programme
UHRS Learning & Development Workshops - available for booking Email 


Title Date
Festival of Creative Learning 20th – 24th February
Hackathon 21st Feb
Application Deadline for the Principal's Teaching Award Scheme (PTAS) 23rd March
Post Application Visit Days  29th March 2017 & 5th April 2017
EIE17 10th – 11th May
Milner lecture 2017 (speaker Luca Cardelli) 31st May 2017

Principal's Teaching Award Scheme (PTAS) Learning & Teaching Forum 2017

6th June

Guess who?

Can you guess the identity of three members of staff, from these fun facts?

  • Has a rare surname, in fact his family is the only one of that surname in his country of origin

Answer 1

  • Never misses Thursday pub quiz in his local pub

Answer 2

  • Played a milkmaid in an amateur staging of Ulysses on Bloomsday 2005 and a dead body in a short film based on E. A. Poe’s prose (photos and clips available on request)

Answer 3  

Keep in touch

For all the latest news, keep an eye on our website, Facebook page, Twitter feed and check out Edinburgh Informatics Alumni on LinkedIn.

Our Facebook page

Our Twitter page

Edinburgh Informatics Alumni on LinkedIn

The newsletter is produced by the School of Informatics Communications Team.

If you have any questions or comments please get in touch!