Informatics Newsletter February 2020

Issue 32 of our School newsletter for students and staff.

A Message from Head of School

Jane Hillston

I’ve been thinking a lot about community recently and what I hope it means to be a member of the School community. If you search on the internet you find the definition that a community is a group of people with diverse characteristics who are linked by social ties, share common perspectives, and engage in joint action. This certainly matches my aspirations for the School. There are further articles that talk about the obligations of the individual to the community, which include values such as cooperation, respect and participation. And of course, there are responsibilities of the community towards its members or the benefits that an individual derives from being part of a community such as a sense of security and belonging, mutual support and a collective power, and access to resources beyond what an individual can attain. We witness this in action everyday on inf.general!

It is important that we value the community we have and all put in effort to foster it, so that it, and we, can thrive.  This can be as simple as remembering to treat each other kindly and express appreciation when it is due. It can also mean sometimes going beyond our individual interests to do something for the greater good, on the understanding that we will in the future benefit from similar effort by others. Of course I have a greater responsibility than most of you to try and keep our community a “healthy” one, but I need the help of all of you.

Two people who have already taken on extra responsibility for our community are Ronnie Johnston and Volker Seeker, who volunteered to be the engagement champions for Informatics. They are hosting an engagement session on Monday 2nd March with online participation to allow those who will not be available that day to also take part.  Please give them support either by coming along to the meeting or by participating online as they work to make our community better.

There are already many great community activities in the School ranging from Yoga, to Art Space, Board Games Night to CompSoc. But there is always scope for more and what strengthens our community collectively also strengthens the partcipants individually. If anyone has any ideas, do please get in touch. In particular, the Comms team are unable to organise the Jamboree this year for a number of reasons, but if anyone else would like to volunteer the School will offer some financial support. I do enjoy a good ceilidh!

With best wishes,


New staff

Academic Staff

Raul Garcia-Patron Sanchez started as a Senior Lecturer in Quantum Computing on 1st February

Research Staff

Ondrej Klejch started as a research associate at the Institute for Language, Cognition and Computing on 1st February

Lipeng Chen started as a research associate at the Institute of Perception, Action and Behaviour on 3rd February

Christian Rauch started as a research associate at the Institute of Perception, Action and Behaviour on 3rd February

Ioannis Tselekounis started as a research associate at the Laboratory for the Foundations of COmputer Science on 3rd February

Jelmer van der Linde started as a research assistant at the Institue for Language, Cognition and Computing on 3rd February

Robert Flood started as a research assistant at the Laboratory for the Foundations of Computer Science on 3rd February

Rawad Mazher started as a research associate at the Laboratory for the Foundations of Computer Science on 21st February

Luis Soares will start as a research associate at the Institute for Language, Cognition and Computing on 31st May 

Professional Services Staff

Heather McComb will start as Web and Social Media Coordinator on 29th February


Occupation of Appleton Tower by Students Supporting the Strike

As of Wednesday 26th February, students have been occupying Appleton Tower in support of the UCU strikes. The occupying students have expressed their intention to occupy the building for the full duration of the UCU strike, the last day of which is currently Friday 13th March. There are health and safety concerns about staff and students working in the building and the University has been working with the protestors to address the concerns. Classes have been rescheduled (or cancelled if no alternative venue could be found) but we are aware that the occupation is impacting our students who need access to AT to study.  We will keep you updated on the situation as it develops through email and our social media channels.

Due to the occupation staff who have been displaced from Appleton Tower, such as the Informatics Teaching Office, have been moved to room 2.33 of the Informatics Forum. As such any bookings of room 2.33 have been removed with immediate effect, for the next two or three weeks. Most bookings will be moved to other available meeting rooms, dependent on the number of attendees advised, (the majority to 3.02) although a few will be in the Turing Room due to (un)availability. Please check your room bookings to be advised of any changes.

Student Support Coordinators have been relocated to Informatics Forum Room 2.46 and Computing Support, Technicians and University Teachers relocated to the Forum. Student cards will be updated to permit access to the Informatics Forum within business hours, while the Teaching Office and Student Support Coordinators are located in the Forum.

Room Booking System for the Informatics Forum

Coronavirus outbreak

The University has been closely monitoring the situation and liaising with government and NHS agencies to get their latest advice. It is important to stress that, based on the latest advice, the risk to people in the UK is low.

However, anyone who has recently returned from Iran, South Korea or lockdown areas in Northern Italy (Bertonico, Casalpusterlengo, Castelgerundo, Castiglione d'Adda, Codogno, Fombio, Maleo, San Fiorano, Somaglia, Terranova dei Passerini - all in Lodi province in Lombardy - and Vo' Euganeo in Padova province, Veneto) must immediately self-isolate, call NHS 24 on 111 to report your recent travel, and do not go to your GP or the hospital without calling ahead. If you have recently returned from Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar or China and become unwell within 14 days of returning, particularly with respiratory symptoms, you should self-isolate and seek medical advice through NHS 24 on 111, reporting your recent travel details. You must not go to your GP or the hospital without calling ahead first, and please follow advice even if symptoms are minor.

University latest updates on coronavirus

Christmas Closure Dates 2020/ 21

The University's Christmas closure dates for 2020 and 2021 have been confirmed as follows:

2020/ 2021
2021/ 2022
Designated public holidays for all staff

Friday 25th December

Monday 28th December

Friday 1st January

Monday 4th January

Monday 27th December

Tuesday 28th December

Monday 3rd January

Tuesday 4th January

Days taken from annual leave entitlement

Tuesday 29th December

Wednesday 30th December

Thursday 31st December

Friday 24th December

Wednesday 29th December

Thursday 30th December

Friday 31st December

School of Informatics Strategy and Plan 2020-23

The School has published new information regarding the Strategy and Plan for the years 2020-23. 

School of Informatics Strategy & Planning

Changes to Staff Travel Booking Process

Following feedback and concerns raised by staff, changes have been made to the School's travel booking process to simplify it while still delivering on the University's policies. Two key changes have been made:

  1. There is now an option to select travel online via Key Travel directly, saving you time.

You can now register directly with Key Travel, the University's travel service provider. The Institutes admin team will be in touch with detailed information about how to register, access and navigate the portal.

   2. The booking process for travel outside of Key Travel and costing less than £1,000 no longer requires you to submit comparison quotes from Key Travel

Information on Key Travel, the University's travel booking system

Register with the University’s travel service provider Key Travel’s online portal directly

Risk Assessment and travel insurance when travelling on University business

Contact Nicola Drago-Ferrante if you have any unanswered questions

New Gift and Hospitality Policy

There are 2 new registers within the School under the new gift and hospitality policy.  If you believe you have something that should be added, just now or in the future, please pass on the details to Dy Harvey or your Institute Portfolio Manager, so that the registers are up-to-date. The categories are listed below:

"Authorising the receipt of gifts and hospitality:  Gifts and hospitality that are in accordance with this Policy are authorised for acceptance as follows: a) any gifts and/or hospitality offered up to £50 can be self-certified; or b) any gifts and/or hospitality offered above £50 must be approved for acceptance by the relevant Head of School or Professional Services unit.

"Authorising the provision of gifts and hospitality: Gifts and hospitality that are in accordance with this Policy are authorised for offer and provision as follows: a) any gifts and/or hospitality being provided up to £50 can be self-certified if the budgetary authority is available or has been provided; or b) any gifts and/or hospitality above £50 must be approved by the relevant Head of School or Professional Services unit.

"A formal record must be kept in a Gifts and Hospitality Register in the School or Professional Services unit of gifts and hospitality offered and/or provided where:  a) any single gift or act of hospitality is offered to an individual, group or organisation (whether as private individuals or in an official capacity) with a value exceeding (or estimated to exceed) £50; or b) any series of gifts or hospitality not otherwise recorded is offered to the same individual, group or organisation and the cumulative total value exceeds (or is estimated to exceed) £100 in any rolling 12-month period."

School Policy Updates

Minor updates have been made to the School’s Sabbatical Leave Policy and Teaching and Admin Policy to make provision for fellowships and ensure fairness in relation to staff not on fellowship.

The teaching and admin policy update provides some guidance on the reallocating of teaching duties within an academic year when a fellowship is awarded.  The following has been added to the policy:

12. Staff who are awarded fellowships or other full-time buyouts will normally be expected to complete teaching duties already assigned to them for the current academic year.  In an effort to avoid cancelling courses, and where possible within funder rules, staff should attempt to delay their fellowship to the academic year following or negotiate with the School to retain their teaching and be provided with a relief from teaching at the end of their fellowship.  

The sabbatical leave policy update provides some clarity on accruing entitlement to sabbatical leave while on a fellowship, and some guidance on factors that are likely to be considered when reviewing a sabbatical application from someone who has been on a fellowship.  The following section has been added to the policy:

In principle, academic staff accrue the usual amount of sabbatical entitlement while they are on fellowships. However, the sabbatical committee will give a lower priority to sabbatical applications from staff who were on fellowships. This is because sabbaticals are primarily designed to provide relief from administrative and teaching duties, and fellowship holders already enjoy such relief while on fellowships, making it harder to make a convincing case for further relief. At the same time, the School would like to encourage staff who are on fellowships to continue engaging with, and contributing to, the School's activities. Therefore, for a sabbatical application to be successful even though it is substantially based on time accrued during a fellowship, the applicant should have undertaken activities from the following list while on fellowship:

  • limited amounts of classroom teaching (e.g., small courses, or parts of a course)
  • supervision of MSc or undergraduate projects
  • management or leadership activities that benefit the School or the University
  • industry engagement activities that benefit the School or the University
  • outreach activities that benefit the School or the University

The number and type of activities undertaken should be commensurate with the duration of the fellowship. The sabbatical application should refer to them. For the purposes of this policy, the term "fellowship" covers all cases where the applicant is bought out to do research full-time, independent of funding source.

The School's Sabbatical Policy in full

The School's Teaching and Admin Policy and Work Allocation Model in full


'Blessings to China' cards show solidarity with Informatics family and friends

In acknowledgement of the Coronavirus crisis and the School's close and multiplicitous connections with China Bob Fisher, Director of Equality and Diversity at the School of Informatics, arranged for two 'Blessings to China' cards to be made available to sign at the reception of the Informatics Forum. The cards aim to show personal solidarity with our Chinese students and staff, as well as any family and friends in China, and let individuals know that they are not alone in their worries. You can view the signed cards below.

InfHR reminders and updates

‘Where do you draw the line?’

We have successfully run our second ‘Where do you draw the line?’ workshop and the positive feedback continues.

'Where do you draw the line?' is a 2-hour workshop that offers departments the opportunity to learn about the factors that can create and sustain a work environment in which harassment and bullying occur and empower participants to work collaboratively to address concerns. The next workshop will be held on Tuesday 10th March at 10 am, with later dates to be confirmed. Spaces for March's session are limited and we are hoping to get staff from all departments taking part. Please register your interest to InfHR ( to ensure that you secure a place at the next session. 

E-mail InfHR

A word from Research Services

Please continue to send details of recently accepted papers and open access questions to, and Victoria or Sam will respond to your query.

As always, questions and comments on PURE, open access and REF are all welcome at any time.

Email RDM Team

Updates about Health & Safety and Facilities

Refurbishments to the building 

Finally, we have completed the last phase of the works to offices in the Forum, under the current plan.  Thank you for your patience during this upheaval.   The contractors will shortly be commencing a refurbishment of the shower rooms in the Forum which will require one to be out of use at a time.  Notification will be sent in due course.

Forthcoming H&S Training Courses

For those of our First Aiders who would like to brush up on their skills, there is a Defibrillator training course (open to all, not just First Aiders) on 16 March, 9.00-13.30, and a First Aid at Work Annual Refresher course on 18 March, 9.00 and 12.30

Defibrillator training

First Aid refresher

Outgoing UoE official mail

Please note that official mail from Informatics to an external address should be stamped using the D112 stamp, held by Level 2 and Level 4 Admin offices.  If it’s just put in the outgoing mail tray with nothing on it, it may not be picked up or sent.

Mice in the building

As per a recent email, there have been reports in the building of mice.  We are asking everyone to take more care over how they store food items (ie sealed boxes/bags) and clean up immediately after them.  

Building security

Once again we have had Security in to report on fire doors from the Forum (in particular the Wolfson Wing door opening next to InSpace, and the Fire exit beside G.16).  These doors have been spotted open on various occasions, during  working hours, weekends and even during the night, leaving our building unsecured and potentially causing risk to anyone working alone inside.  These doors are FIRE EXITS and should NEVER be left open.  We ask that people refrain from using them as a means to exit the building.  If they continue to be discovered in an open position we will be forced to install break-bolts and CCTV to identify any subsequent perpetrators.  We are sorry to have to be raising this again but, as signage is being ignored, we need to take more drastic steps to keep our building and staff/ students secure.

Thefts from fridges

There have now been three or four recent reports of personal food items being taken from the communal fridges by others. This is stealing. Informatics only provides one carton of semi-skimmed milk per fridge. Anything else in the fridge clearly belongs to one of our occupants and is not there for people to help themselves to.

If you have any questions, please drop Carol Marini and email.

E-mail Carol

Research news

Leonid Libkin Appointed Program Chair of Logic in Computer Science Symposium 2021

Leonid Libkin was appointed a program chair of LICS 2021 (36th ACM/IEEE Symposium on Logic in Computer Science), the main logic in computer science conference and the flagship conference of ACM SIGLOG. It will be held in Rome in June 2021.

Kenneth Heafield Awarded Grant from European Commission to work on User-Focused Marian

Kenneth Heafield has been awarded £268,314 from the European Commission to work on his project User-Focused Marian. Marian is a machine translation toolkit in C++ originally developed in Edinburgh which is deployed at the EU and several other places. As a black box for users who don't modify the code, it works well. But the internals are poorly documented and hard for outsiders to modify, which prevents most researchers from working with it. Marian is also missing some features requested by companies like forced translation. The project adds features commonly requested by industry to use terminology, a feature to support domain adaptation requested by the EU, computational efficiency for GPUs, and documentation. The benefits of the project are as follows:

1. Providing user access to text flagging for forced translation by adding stable support to Marian for forced translations and terminology databases. This will also enable better use of previous CEF-funded language resource actions, such as the eTranslation TermBank (2016-EU-IA-0122).

2. Supporting the automated adaptation facility by extending the self-adaptive feature implemented in Marian to support large translation memories. This is expected to improve the quality of fast on-the-fly domain adaptation, ultimately reducing the cost of additional DSI domains.

3. Improving documentation aimed at both end-users and automated translation researchers. With both production and research users, Marian serves as a vehicle for rapidly incorporating technological improvements because improvements are implemented in the same code base. Marian is already liberally licensed under the MIT license, so improved documentation is the remaining requirement to resolve any issues necessary for submitting the tools to the ELRC-SHARE.

4. Improving computational efficiency for training and inference on GPUs (graphics processing units). Since eTranslation runs on GPUs, this effort addresses the Work Programme goals of boosting the quality, response capacity and efficiency of public sector translation services. Computational efficiency can be used to improve response capacity with the same computing resources or to improve efficiency by paying less for cloud computing resources.

Hugh Leather receives Funding from Huawei for his Project QuickSilver

Hugh Leather has received £298,698 from Huawei to work on his project QuickSilver: adaptive optimisation and migration of heterogeneous parallel pattern programs. Parallel patterns make writing parallel programs easy. But they are not well optimised for heterogeneous devices. QuickSilver learns how to optimise parallel patterns. First, with machine learning it maps code to the right heterogeneous device by predicting the task's speed up on each device. Second, it tunes pattern parameters with machine learning. Third, it detects environment changes and migrates tasks to better devices. These steps will significantly improve the performance and energy consumption of parallel code.

Pramod Bahtotia granted Microsoft Research Ltd. Funding to Develop Secure Storage System Speicher

Pramod Bahtotia secured £73576 in funding from Microsoft Research Ltd for his project Speicher: a secure storage system using shielded execution. The risks of security violations have increased significantly in the third-part computing infrastructure. In an untrusted environment, an attacker can compromise the security properties of the stored data, the query and transactional operations. Hardening the security properties of software systems running on the untrusted computing infrastructure (cloud, IoT and edge computing resources) is therefore of great importance and necessity. The recent development of hardware-assisted Trusted Execution Environments (TEEs, e.g. Intel SGX and ARM Trustzone) opens new horizons towards the design of secure software storage systems (e.g. KV-stores) with the strongest security guarantees.

In this project, the researchers propose Speicher, a secure storage system that aims to provide strong confidentiality, integrity, and freshness guarantees against a powerful adversary who can control the entire system software stack, including the OS or hypervisor, attempt rollback/forking attacks and also launch physical attacks (e.g. memory probes). Speicher aims to provide a Key-Value (KV) interface backed by Log-Structured Merge Tree (LSM) for supporting secure data storage, query operations and transactions. Intel SGX is used to enforce these security properties on an untrusted host. TEEs are primarily designed for securing "stateless" (or volatile) in-memory computations and data. Therefore, to establish trust with the stateful storage (SSDs or Hard-Drives) and ensure strong security in cases of a system crash, reboot or migration is quite challenging.

Student news

National Student Survey is now Open

The National Student Survery 2020 is now open to final-year undergraduate students, and will remain open until the end of April. This feedback is invaluable to the School, so it is important that we do everything we can to encourage final-year undergraduate students to fill out the survey in as much detail as possible. Your support in this encouragement would be greatly appreciated - we will be sharing reminders on our social media channels until the survey closes, so feel free to share these on your own channels.


Hack the Burgh VI

CompSoc have organised 'Hack the Burgh' Hackathon for the 6th year in a row, and this year it’s going to be bigger than ever. Over 200 students from around the globe will be participating at the event, held at the Informatics Forum on the weekend of 29th February- 1st March. Any student over 18 in full-time education or graduates who graduated up to year ago are eligible to participate in a team of up to four competitors. Experience is not required as the event is aimed at both pro-hackers and beginners, providing learning and mentoring opportunities. If you would like to follow Hack the Burgh as it unfolds, the team will be hosting a takeover of the Informatics Instagram @schoolofinformatics.


Informatics SigInt Society's Cyber Security CTF a Resounding Success

Students from Edinburgh University Cyber Security Society (SigInt) hosted a large inter-university Capture the Flag competition which was a resounding success, bringing together over 60 undergraduate participants in 20 teams representing 8 Scottish universities. The competition was the first of its kind organised by SigInt, and was held in the Informatics Forum over the weekend of 15th – 16th February.

A team of students from Edinburgh Napier and Stirling Universities won the competition, teams from Glasgow came 2nd and 3rd. The Glaswegian teams looked set to win the competition on both days, with the Napier/Stirling team shooting into the lead in the final hour and subsequently winning the whole competition, albeit closely followed by other teams. Every team managed to clear the board of the easy and medium level challenges, but most of the hardest challenges remained unsolved. The overwhelming feedback from participants was that everyone learnt something new and was looking forward to participating again next year.

Informatics undergraduate becomes Associate Fellow of HEA

Vidminas Mikucionis, 3rd-year Computer Science and Management Science student, completed the Introduction to Academic Practice (IntroAP) course as the only undergraduate student, and the only person from the School of Informatics, in the semester’s cohort. In completing this course, Vidminas has achieved HEA Associate Fellowship accreditation, which acknowledges a passion for teaching and drive for self-improvement. It is very rare for undergraduate students to get this accreditation; the only routes available to them are a direct application or completing the IntroAP, which rarely admits undergraduate students. Vidminas was mentored by Cristina Alexandru (herself senior fellow of HEA).


Student Experience Grant-funded Hackathon taking place in March

The University’s Embedded and Robotics Society have organised a 24-hour hardware hackathon, CreatED, on the weekend of 14 - 15 March in Appleton Tower. The event will be the largest hardware-only hackathon ever, challenging participants from some of the best universities in the UK to work collaboratively to produce an innovative project centred around a hardware device such as an embedded system, micro-controller, or a device from the Internet of Things. CreatED welcomes hackers of all abilities, even beginners, is free to attend and will feature students from diverse backgrounds.


Staff Engagement Follow-up, Monday 2nd March

Register for the Engagement Sessions

The collated feedback including comments and proposed actions by the School's Executive Group has been circulated to staff. Top two or three comments submitted through Slido will be discussed at the session. This session is for all staff, no separate sessions for Academic and Professional Services.

Hoppers' International Women's Day celebration, Saturday 7th March

Hoppers celebrate their 15th anniversary by hosting a day full of fantastic opportunities to meet inspiring people and learn new skills. This year’s theme of the event is “Reach for the Stars”. Participants can win amazing prizes and network with top tier tech companies.

Hoppers IWD 20

DataFest20, 9-20th March

Scotland’s two-week festival of Data Innovation comes back from the 9th to 20th March 2020. Now in its fourth year, DataFest will once again showcase Scotland's leading role in data science and artificial intelligence on the international stage, while offering an unparalleled networking platform where you can interact with local and international talent, industry, academia and data enthusiasts. 


University-wide International Women's Day Lecture, Thursday 12th March

Following the very successful ninth annual University of Edinburgh International Womenʼs Day (IWD) Lecture, the 10th Anniversary of the IWD Lecture series will be held on Thursday 12th March 2020. The theme for the lecture is 'The Many Female Faces of the Future' and will be celebrated and championed by Anjali Ramachandran, Director at Storythings, a content studio that helps clients innovate around storytelling formats in their communications. Anjali was one of the top 100 BAME UK Tech Leaders announced by the Financial Times in 2018, and was shortlisted for Woman of the Year at the Asian Achievement Awards in 2019. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA). Anjali will speak of her own career path, barriers and enablers, and her perspectives on gender equality now and in the future.

Professor Colm Harmon, Vice-Principal (Students), will provide the IWD Lecture 10th Anniversary welcome address, and Professor Sarah-Cunningham-Burley, University Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Lead, is very much looking forward to Chairing the event. The lecture will be held from 5.45pm to 7.00 pm (doors open at 5.15 pm) in McEwan Hall, Teviot Place. The event is ticketed but free, and friend and family would be most welcome. For further details of the Lecture and more information about our IWD speaker, including how to book, head to the event page on the University's Equality and Diversity website.

International Women's Day lecture 2020


Engage Invest Exploit (EIE) Conference, Thursday 23rd April 2020 

Powered by Informatics Ventures, EIE is the international flagship event for Data Driven Innovation, attracting world-class investors to the heart of the aspirational Data Capital of Europe. Since its inception in 2008, companies who have participated in the EIE have gone on to raise in excess of £700 million, from seed through to Series A and later-stage funding.

Why not come along to EIE 2020 to see the data-driven start-ups of the future? Registration is now open!

Note: we have a special University Staff price of £200 and a student price of £85 if you book for the conference before 31 March 2020

EIE Conference Tickets

Run an event as part of the Great Science Share for Schools 2020, Tuesday 16th June

The Great Science Share for Schools (GSSfS)  is an annual national campaign to encourage young people to engage with science and engineering by sharing their scientific questions. Event organisers benefit from taking part by:

  • encouraging young people to communicate their scientific questions and investigations with new audiences
  • improving teacher confidence in teaching children to think and work scientifically
  • raising the profile of school science, improving the science capital of children and families

You don't necessarily have to come up with a new event - GSSfS could be incorporated into a current project, or you could advocate for the project by spreading the word amongst other teachers and STEM organisations that you work with. 

If you would like to run an event as part of GSSfS, the website has lots of free resources and information available, and you can register your interest through their Eventbrite page.

Great Science Fair for Schools Website

Register your event through Eventbrite

Contact the GSSfS team for further information, queries and advice

Outreach and Public Engagement

For latest opportunities please check CSE PE blog for more info.

CSE Public Engagement update

Call for participants - Soapbox Science, Edinburgh, 2nd May (deadline: 2nd Mar)

Soapbox Science returns to Edinburgh on Sat 2nd May. This is a world-wide series of events for women (including non-binary and genderqueer speakers) in STEM (from PhD students to Professors) who are passionate about their research. Through Soapbox Science researchers go out into informal settings for their engagement; the Edinburgh event will once again take place where the Mound meets Princes Street.

Further details

A short training session will also run on the 1st Apr to help prepare selected speakers.

Also, if you don't wish to speak, but do wish to help, then volunteers to assist with logistics and event evaluation are greatly appreciated. Get in touch with the organisers directly if you would like to support in some way.

Contact SoapboxScienceEdinburgh

Call for participants / training - FameLab, application deadline: 28th Feb

This international science communication competition is open to anyone studying (from undergraduate upwards) or working in STEM and is over 21 years old. However, those who work full-time in public engagement are not eligible. Presentations must not exceed 3 minutes, cannot involve Powerpoint slides, and any props must be carried onto the stage by the participant. The winner of the international final wins up to £2,000.

Apply by 28th Feb

There are a series of regional heats and preparation dates. The key dates are: - Edinburgh heat - Weds 11th Mar - Scotland final (part of Edinburgh Science Festival) - Weds 15th Apr, 8pm

Call for activities - Curiosity Live, March and June 2020

Taking place in the Glasgow Science Centre, Curiosity Live is a regular series of events seeking to bring science-based research to public audiences.

Of particular interest are activities that combine arts and humanities with the sciences, as well as those that get visitors to be part of the scientific process in some way. Activities do not have to be table-top; all formats are considered.

The next event is currently being planned for 12th-15th March, with the following one 11th-14th June, so if you'd like to be involved, then contacting Sam is the first step to take. Contact Sam Langford

Training - UKRI Public Engagement in Action, Edinburgh, 25th Mar

Hosted by Daniel Barker, this free workshop will see colleagues from UKRI, particularly STFC, visit the King's Buildings campus to update on where public engagement fits within the UKRI mission, as well as provide advice on developing quality public engagement applications in the world after Pathways to Impact (which are being removed from the application process from the beginning of March). 

All students and staff are welcome

Register to attend

List and feedback on the training courses page

We now have a page listing training courses attended by staff. You can submit your own feedback on a particular training you attended. 

List and feedback on training courses

Submit feedback

Mental health and well being

Informatics Staff and Students

If you feel that you are being mistreated at the University because of a factor such as gender, race, age, nationality, religion, sexuality, etc, you are welcome to confidentially contact the InfHR team (for staff members), Student Support Officers (for UG and MSc students), or contact the Graduate School (for PhD students). Details are all provided below:

  • InfHR, Informatics Forum 5.39

Email InfHR

  • Student Support Officers, Appleton Tower, Level 6

Email Student Support Officers

  • IGS contacts, Informatics Forum, 3.42

Contact IGS

  • Staff can also speak to Fiona McGuire in the College HR Office

Email Fiona

The University has a number of HR policies, including the Dignity and Respect policy, and staff are encouraged to review these.

A to Z of HR policies

You can find information about mental health and wellbeing on the Informatics external website.

Mental health and wellbeing

Informatics Social Events

Are you an organiser of a regular social event in Informatics and would like to add it to the list? Let Infcomms know!

Contact Infcomms

Informatics Déjà Brew

Informatics Déjà Brew is a drop-in coffee session. Staff are welcome to come and go as their workload permits. If you are unsure about cover for your office or how long you can come along for, then speak to your line manager. The meet-ups are primarily aimed at all Informatics professional services, technical and computing staff. Bring along your cuppa and see you there!

Informatics Déjà Brew

Informatics Football

Informatics Football is open to all Undergraduate, MSC, PHD and staff members from the School of Informatics.

Informatics Football

Board Game Nights

The Board Game Nights are for those wishing to play some games once a month, in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. There is a good variety of board games available, with regular additions to the collection.

Board Game Nights

Informatics Open Artspace

Informatics Open ArtSpace takes place on Tuesdays, 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm in MF1. All materials for acrylic painting, linocut and origami are provided. If you have your own project to work on, you can bring it, too. Everyone is welcome, just come by, hang out, make some art.

Look out for inf-general e-mails from Sabine Weber confirming dates/times.


Inf.write() are an informal Informatics writers group run by Dave Cochrane.  If you would like to come and get feedback on something you have written, please bring paper copies (six should be enough, but there are printers handy if more are needed). If you don’t have writing you’d like feedback on, but would like to come along and hear what people are working on, that’s great too. There are very few limitations on what you can bring. Fiction, poetry, scripts, screenplays and non-fiction are all encouraged. This group is not for getting feedback on the type of work for which there already are established mechanisms for getting feedback within the School. Remember that everyone who brings work needs to get their turn - so if you bring something long, be prepared for the possibility that you may have to spread it between more than one meeting.

Look out for inf-general e-mails from Dave Cochrane confirming dates/times.

Best of inf-general

We picked two helpful threads on inf-general last month. Thank you inf-general, you are super helpful!

Ahmed asked about taking children out of school during term time. Here is a summary of what he found out:

  • In any case, you have to continue to write to the school’s headteacher about any leave/absence.
  • Unanimously, up to 2 weeks of absence per school year appears to be the norm and no further escalation from the school. Usually distributed i.e. week at the beginning and week toward the end of the school year.
  • The majority receive unauthorised absence, but no problems for the 2 weeks.
  • For holiday purposes, by default, it will be unauthorised, but you should inform the school.
  • If the absence is for attending something educational, it could be an authorised absence.
  • Apparently, no much difference between Primary and High school, however, once your child reaches S3, they can’t afford any absence from the school due to exams, etc.


Sam asked about posting the original passport to the PO box. Here are the responses:


  • Posting signed and tracked deliveries to PO boxes will work just fine and should be used when posting documents.
  • The Home Office returns documents via 2nd class Royal Mail, but if you include a pre-paid slip (e.g. signed & tracked) they will use that instead.
  • There are special envelopes for these things that can be bought in the Post Office. These are gray plastic envelopes, so you can easily fold the pre-paid return slip in the original envelope.
  • "Some countries (Canada, for example) will issue a second passport if your first one becomes inaccessible. This can happen if the Home Office decides to take a long time sitting on your passport. This is similar to the process lost or stolen passports, except that it when you know where your passport is but you just can't get at it"
  • Someone mentioned the UKCEN community, which looks quite useful. There is a forum that could help with these sort of questions.

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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.


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