Informatics Newsletter February 2022

Issue 54 of our School newsletter for students and staff.

A Message from Head of School

Photo of Jane Hillston sitting at a desk

Dear All,

It seems hardly any time since the start of the year and yet here we are at the end of February. This month saw the publication of the Scottish Governments new Strategic Framework for managing Covid-19.  This reflects a new sense of optimism and a relaxation of current restrictions from 21st March.  Many of us will welcome this move back towards life as it was before early 2020, but others will remain cautious. It is not expected that all precautions will be immediately abandoned. The University is working to develop a response to the new Strategic Framework with the Academic Year 22/23 in mind. A summary of the latest announcement is available below which includes a link to the full strategic framework:

Living safely with Covid | Scottish Government

This month, Steve Renals, a valued colleague in the School for many years, has decided, after his recent health problems, to take retirement with effect from the start of this year.  I’m sure you all join me in wishing him all the best for his retirement and, since he intends to stay in touch with the School and particularly colleagues in ILCC. I would like to add a personal thank you to Steve for all the work he undertook preparing the School’s REF submission.  This was a mammoth task over several years and Steve played a crucial role.

The sun is shining and the days are getting longer. We cannot know just how the next stages of the pandemic will unfold but we will all work together to make sure that we deliver the School’s core missions of teaching and research as best we can.

With best wishes,


New Staff

Mohamed Sorour started as a Research Associate in IPAB on 10 February.

Michael Glienecke started as a University Teacher in Software Engineering on 15 February.

Toni Noble started as a Deputy Teaching Org Manager on 24 February.


Current Covid-19 guidelines reminder

Whilst the current Covid restrictions are easing off and we can hope for more easing in the future, there are still several restrictions in place that apply to us.

The current restriction, general to all, is that face masks are still mandatory in work places and we are advised to do regular lateral flow testing. Exemptions are listed on the Scottish Government website (most common ones that might apply to us are: medical: when seated and eating: when presenting to an audience if you can maintain more than 1m distance). There is one further University (only) exemption which is that for meetings/offices where the attendees are all staff/PGRs and all can maintain greater than 1m distancing from each other then masks may be removed. For any case where there are others in attendance (e.g. students, visitors) then masks must be used by all (there is no distance point where removal is an option). Locally (to Informatics), sign-in sheets in meeting rooms have been removed and it will be the responsibility of the person instigating meetings to retain attendee contact details for 21 days to assist any NHS Test and Protect enquiries.

School of Informatics Covid-19 updates

Go Abroad for Staff Erasmus+ Programme still has funds

Go Abroad for Staff provides support and funding for academic and professional services staff to go abroad on short, normally week-long, teaching or training visits as part of their professional development.

There is Erasmus funding available for staff and students for study and work abroad activity in Europe until 31st May 2023, and to international destinations until 31st July 2023.

Find out who is eligible to participate, how to apply, where you could go, and what you could do by visiting the link below.

Link to Go Abroad for Staff website

The Teaching Awards are back for another year

Staff play a pivotal role in the student experience at Edinburgh, from lecturers and tutors, to supervisors and Personal Tutors, and professional services staff. Nominate your teachers, supervisors, tutors and professional services staff for a Teaching Award today!

Your nominations really do mean the world to our hard-working staff, so take five minutes before nominations close on April 4 2022 to say thank you to the staff who’ve shaped your time at University so far.

Link to Teaching Awards website

Students - Take part in a Climate Hack

EDIntelligence, The University of Edinburgh's Data Science & AI Society, is pleased to announce ClimateHack.AI, a climate change hackathon between AI communities of the world’s leading institutions.

Participants use climate-related data, provided by OPENCLIMATEFIX to develop machine learning models which results in a real quantifiable reduction in carbon emissions!

You will be competing across all the world’s best universities and continuously upload and improve the models and receive evaluations. Participating universities will be hosting events and social activities for anyone and everyone to join! We encourage participants from all backgrounds, regardless of which School or Degree Programme you are under. From meeting peers to improving your programming skills, this is a fantastic opportunity for rookies or veterans.

The top 3 performers from the University of Edinburgh will head to the Finals which will take place simultaneously in London and New York City on 25th March-27th March 2022 and will span a weekend where participants will showcase their machine learning models for a chance to win £50,000.

Link to Climate Hack website

Young Persons’ (Under 22s) Free Bus Travel

Young people under 22 years old can get free bus travel across Scotland.

You’ll need a National Entitlement Card (NEC) or Young Scot NEC. Previously issued cards will not allow you access to the scheme. Find out more and apply by visiting the link below.

Link to Transport Scotland website


Women and girls in Informatics

Women and girls in Informatics

Historically, a significant gender gap has existed at all levels of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines all over the world. Even though women have made tremendous progress towards increasing their participation in higher education, they are still under-represented in these fields and face barriers to participate fully.

In order to achieve full and equal access to science for women and girls, and further achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, the United Nations General Assembly declared 11 February as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science in 2015.

To mark the occasion, today we celebrate some of the women and girls working and studying in the School of Informatics.

Read full article

Human Resources

People and Money - payroll and timesheets launch

New payroll and timesheets services will launch in April. To prepare, People and Money will close to staff from 17 March –4 April.

When People and Money reopens, you’ll access payslips in the system, along with timesheets if you use them to record hours worked for payment purposes.

You’ll record your annual leave in People and Money. Recording your holidays centrally means you and your manager can be sure you’re taking planned breaks from work. Accurate recording of annual leave also helps the new payroll processes run smoothly.

Log in to People and Money


Procedure for reporting issues around the building

To help facilities deal with building issues more quickly, please specify when reporting an issue the location of the problem (e.g. light not working outside room, toilet blocked in cubicle, sink not working in kitchen in x.xxxx).

As a reminder, the procedure for reporting issues is to send an email to either form issues (for Forum-based issues) or building issues for other buildings, not the facilities email address.

Report a forum issue

Report a building issue

Ethics update

Ethics office hours

The Informatics ethics committee will continue to hold an office hour every first Monday of the month, 4pm-5pmduring semester 2 (07 March, 04 April). The session is 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.

Join the office hour Mondays 4-5 pm on Teams

Please take the time to review the information available on our pages before attending, including the FAQs.

InfWeb Ethics and Integrity pages

Students should discuss specific ethics questions with their supervisor before attending the office hour (open to both students and supervisors).

Student news

Edinburgh University Formula Student launch workshop in mobile robotics

Interested in autonomous cars? Join Edinburgh University Formula Student (EUFS) for a 4-workshop series in mobile robotics. You will learn how to use Robot Operating System 2, an industry standard for robotics development, and how to use it to solve several challenges in autonomous driving.

Sign up

Staff news

Dilara Keküllüoğlu finds birthday wishes inadvertently give away private information online

Have you wished someone Happy Birthday on social media? You might have inadvertently compromised their online security.

Dilara Keküllüoğlu and colleagues examined millions of tweets that mentioned 'happy birthday', some also mentioning the user and revealing their age, therefore giving away their full date of birth - a personal detail that is often used by banks and other organisations to verify users.

Link to the New Scientist article about Dilara's paper

Walid Magdy

Walid Magdy finds bots on Twitter have less influence than celebrities

A study led by Dr Walid Magdy, a reader in the School of Informatics suggests that social media bots pose less of a threat spreading harmful messages and misinformation than previously thought, research suggests.

The study, co-authored by Abeer Aldayel and Walid Magdy, showed that bots made up only a small number of the accounts which most influenced the views of studied Twitter users on a range of hot topics from politics, religion and culture. Instead, they found that “ultra-famous” human influencers were far more powerful in driving the opinions of Twitter users. However, while bots’ effect may be small, the authors warn that they should still be considered in the policies of social media platforms such as Twitter.

Read full article


Event for Students – Have your say about graduate job specs

Wednesday 2 March 2022, 13:00 – 14:30 GMT

Cyber security job adverts are bewildering.  Employers know that puts candidates off, but they need our help to fix them.  At the event, students can learn what employers are really looking for and help make a difference in how they express it.  The event is for all students who might be interested in working in a variety rapidly growing roles, many of which do not require computer science or cyber security degrees.

Hosted by ScotlandIS in collaboration with SICSA.

Event details

From the Brain to Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Back Again

Thursday 3 March 2022, 16:00 – 18:00 GMT

Michael Rovatsos, Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the School of Informatics and Director of the Bayes Centre, joins Edinburgh Futures Institute for the first in their Galvanised seminar series - connecting science, engineering and the arts!

Event details

Spotlight on Industry - Edinburgh Innovations

Thursday 17 March 2022, 11:00 – 12:00 GMT

Edinburgh Innovations is proud to present the next event in the Spotlight on Industry series showcasing successful collaborations between University of Edinburgh researchers and industry partners.

This event is of particular interest to researchers and academics wanting to engage with industry and a great example of how university research can help address applied challenges:

  • hear about a collaboration from both the company and the academic perspectives
  • explore how industry partnerships are developed
  • learn what it is like to work with an industry partner and how this can benefit you and your career
  • ask your questions during the audience Q&A session

Event details

IAA Impact Festival 2022

Tuesday 22nd March, The Studio, Glasgow

Connect with fellow researchers at this one-day event, comprising of plenary sessions and breakout sessions.

  • Sunamp CEO Andrew Bissell on academic/industry partnership
  • University of Strathclyde's Director of Innovation and Industry Engagement Olga Kozlova, PhD, FRSE on entrepreneaurship in modern academia
  • Responsible Innovation, Equality, Diversity & Inclusion, and Sustainability
  • Routes to Impact
  • Researcher Development

Event details

AI UK 2022

22–23 March 2022

Join the conversation at the UK’s national showcase of artificial intelligence (AI) and data science research and collaboration.

AI UK will showcase the very best of academic work in AI, machine learning and data science. Back for the second year, with four diverse stages, AIUK is packed with interactive roundtable discussions, demonstrations of innovative machine learning tools from around the UK and lots of opportunities to contribute to the discussion and engage with industry experts.

Secure your place today by visiting the link below.

Event details

Call for papers

Submit your articles to AI Communications, the European Journal of Artificial Intelligence

The purpose of this special issue, to be published in AI Communications, is to showcase current multi-agent systems research led by university and industry groups which are based in the UK.

There is no fixed article structure as long as the above questions are addressed in sufficient detail.

This special issue is being organised as part of the work of The Alan Turing Institute, the UK's the national institute for data science and artificial intelligence.

For any questions regarding the special issue or eligibility, please contact Stefano V. Albrecht.

Visit Stefano V. Albrecht's personal page

Special issue: Multi-agent systems research in the UK

Outreach and Public Engagement

For more information on what constitutes public engagement and how do get started, see the link below.

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.

Informatics Outreach and Public Engagement Directory

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.

Public Engagement webform

Call for Volunteers to work with Invisible Cities (teaching basic digital skills)

Invisible Cities, a local social enterprise, are looking for volunteers who could help some of their trainees with basic digital skills. They’re looking for both University staff and students who might be interested in volunteering.

Invisible cities trains up local people who have experienced homelessness, so you would be supporting someone who has been homeless. The person you would be working with might be being trained to be a tour guide or to work behind the scenes at Invisible Cities.

Volunteering would involve:

  • Helping someone one a 1:1 informal basis with things like composing emails, the very basics of Microsoft Word and Excel, or how to find good images on the web (e.g. by using Pinteerst)
  • Working with this person in a public place – likely Coffee Saints at St Mary’s Cathedral ( or at the Invisible Cities office on Leith Walk
  • Working with your person on a flexible basis that you can mutually agree. You might just meet with them for coffee once or twice, or it become a more regular thing if you’re both getting something out of it

You need to be happy to be matched with a trainee by Invisible Cities staff and be led by what digital skills trainees need help with. You do not need a PVG and all costs (coffees, cake, bus fares) will be covered by Invisible Cities and the University. You will be supported by Invisible Cities and the University throughout.

If you are interested in volunteering, please email Sarah Anderson by the end of the day on Thursday 3rd March. Those of you interested will then meet Sarah and Zakia from Invisible Cities to find out more and plan. Your expression of interest and attendance at this meeting do not commit you to volunteering, so please do come along to find out more if you’re curious!

If you’re interested contact Sarah Anderson by Thursday 3rd March

Email Sarah Anderson

Link to Invisible Cities website

Pint of Science is back

Pint of Science will be taking place 9-11 May 2022. The lists of speakers were closed on 21st February, but you can still contact the organisers on the email below if you have an absolutely brilliant idea that falls into one of their categories: Sign up to the mailing list

Contact the organisers

Call for participants – Falkirk Science Festival

Falkirk Science Festival is back with an in-person and online programme, and we are looking for all the wonderful science communicators to join us. Don’t worry we have tried and tested COVID safe procedures and we can help ensure that your activity stays that way. Please see the key dates below and send us any information related to activities/workshops/experiments/features that could be a great addition to the programme.

INNOVATE @ Zetland Park - Sat 7 May - 11am – 3pm

A one stop science drop in shop on Zetland Park for families. We are looking for Science Communicators who can bring innovation to the park. We can host activities outdoors or under gazebos – they can be as big as you like (as long as they can fit in a park). Please note there is no electricity on the park, but there will be lots of kids excited to join the fun.

STEM@TheHELIX – Sat 14 May – 11am – 4pm

It is back. The day that started Falkirk Science Festival. We are looking for all things STEM for a fun day of drop in activities. This event is in a large marquee with power and outdoors, so we can host the technical, the weird, the wonderful, the amazing.

Science in a Kelpie – multiple dates/times 7-21 May

Yes that is right, we would like you to come and deliver a science talk inside the world’s largest equine structure. This year’s Science in a Kelpie is exploring storytelling. If you have some fantastic science that links with storytelling, or just a fantastic piece of science to share inside a kelpie, please email us.

WILD SCIENCE @ Muiravonside Country Park - Sat 21 May – 11am – 3pm

This year we are going WILD at Muiravonside Country Park with the wildest science ever!! Does your activity require animals, insects, ancient trees, mud, rivers, all things gloriously outdoors? Then please get in touch, we would love to have you.

We are also particularly interested this year in themes surrounding Women in Science, The Science of Storytelling (Brain Sciences), The Science of Baking (Introduction to Chemistry, Physics, Maths, Engineering through Baking processes), ALL STEM engagement activities for young people aged 8-14.

Ideas/sessions can be new or previously delivered. We are inviting options to consider at this point and will report back with questions or formal offers in the next few weeks.

If you have a proposal, please email Natalie (below) a breakdown of:

  • Sessions or activity available and a description
  • In person or online
  • If in person, Any specific preference of location (i.e by a pond)
  • Dates Available
  • Running time
  • Set up time if equipment required in person
  • Number of participants (Ideal)
  • Any associated costs/fees
  • Any further requirements/ assistance needed Contact Natalie Allison

Contact Natalie Allison

Applications for Glasgow Science Festival 2022 are now open

GSF will be running from the 2nd to 12th June 2022. This year the theme is ‘Glasgow's Making Waves'.

GSF is a STEAMS festival, encompassing Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, Mathematics and Social Science. Proposals from all of these fields are very welcome.

Please read the Glasgow Science Festival 2022 Proposal Info for applicants to find out what is being planned this year.

Deadline for submitting proposals is the 2nd March 2022. GSF Proposal Info

Website and submission form

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. 

List and feedback on training courses

Submit feedback

Best of InfGeneral

This month inf-general was buzzing with sales and exchanges, seeking new places to stay and giveaways. We were glad to hear, that Phebe the dachshund found a new home and that the Board game night is back (look out for these emails if interested!

But this month's best of inf-general award goes to Paul Jackson and David Sterrat for their advice on scam rentals. 

If you or somebody you know has been scammed by a fake landlord, you/they need to contact the Police ASAP. EUSA have a good guide on this.

EUSA guide on scams

BBC investigation into Edinburgh rental scams

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!

Informatics Communications team website






Edinburgh Informatics Alumni group on LinkedIn


The newsletter is produced by the Communications team.

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

Email us

Share your news