Informatics Newsletter July 2020

Issue 37 of our School newsletter for students and staff.

A Message from Acting Head of School

Photo of Nigel Topham

Dear colleagues,

As you are aware Jane is on a well-deserved two-week annual leave, so here is a brief update from me on what’s happened recently in the School.

In line with the previous Scottish Government guidance, the School has re-opened its essential labs as of 22nd July. We re-opened the Robotics and Eye-tracking and Perception labs in the first instance. It took a lot of preparation from our Special Projects Manager Amanda, the Facilities Team and the Building Review Working Group.

Anyone who is currently allowed to return to the buildings (Informatics Forum and Bayes Centre) has taken an induction course and has been issued with a new staff handbook. As we enter future stages of the re-opening of our buildings, similar processes will be required for those of you that will be returning to the campus. We expect the content of the handbook and the guidance are likely to evolve over time. Please read the intranet for further updates.

Re-opening of the School of Informatics - latest updates

This week, some colleagues who are not returning to the building will be collecting essential items from their offices. If you have missed out on the survey and need something urgently, please contact Facilities. This is very likely to be the last opportunity to do this before the start of the academic year.

In the meantime we will be analysing the results of the staff survey in which we consulted you on your feelings about returning to the campus; this will inform the next steps in our buildings reopening plans and help us to understand your needs. We will also be looking into best practice for future working arrangements, and I’m sure Jane will be able to give you some updates on that at the next School General Meeting on 12th August.

In other news there are a couple of successes I would like to highlight:

Congratulations to Bonnie Webber who was awarded a 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award by the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL). We currently have two recipients of this award in Informatics, as Mark Steedman received it in 2018.

Congratulations to Mirella Lapata who has been invited to become a Member of the Academia Europaea.

Forbes listed our BSc in Artificial Intelligence in their top 10 AI and Data Science UG programmes in the world, along with Harvard, Stanford, LSE, Carnegie Mellon, MIT and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

With best wishes,


Highlights and Announcements

Roadmap to re-opening the School - latest updates

  • Essential labs (the Robotics and Eye-tracking and Perception) re-opened on 22nd July
  • Enhanced hygiene and safety measures within the buildings were introduced
  • All staff who returned were required to go through re-induction
  • A handbook was created for the re-induction, but this will be updated for future stages, so don’t worry if you haven’t seen it if you’re not returning yet
  • ~50 colleagues returned at this stage, only ~20 are in the building at any given time
  • Only authorised colleagues are allowed to enter the building
  • From tomorrow colleagues can pick up essential items, if you’ve missed emails about it and want to pick something up email facilities ASAP
  • Keep an eye for updates about next stages – we expect more colleagues will be allowed back in the Forum in August, however, we need to ensure everyone is safe before we allow more staff to enter
  • We don’t expect Appleton Tower to be open before the beginning of September
  • Whatever your working arrangements your wellbeing is our paramount concern. It’s ok to ask for help if you struggle – check the website below for advice and available services

Mental health and well-being during the pandemic

Re-opening of the School of Informatics - latest updates

New policy on website accessibility

The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018 is a new regulation that requires public bodies websites to be accessible. The compliance deadline is 23 September 2020. This regulation has been incorporated into the University policy which applies to any website using the domain ( or any subdomain (,

How does this policy impact Informatics staff?

If you own a website or are thinking about developing your web presence within the University web estate, you will need to make sure that it complies with the regulations.

This means you will need to:

  1. Write an accessibility statement and publish it on your website before 22 September 2020.
  2. Test your website for compliance with accessibility regulations.
  3. Fix any accessibility issues and errors.

If you are using University content management system (EdWeb) or the Informatics version of it (InfWeb) then all of the above steps will be either done for you or the Comms Team will help you implement them.

In the next couple of weeks, the InfComms team will be contacting colleagues (staff and students) that we think are responsible for a website/websites within the Informatics web estate to alert them to the new requirement and guide them through the process.

If you’d like to learn about web accessibility and what you’re required to do in advance, please use the guidance we have written for you.

Informatics website accessibility guidance

Cycle to work scheme

Staff at the University of Edinburgh can make savings on the cost of a bike and accessories for commuting to work via the Cycle to Work Scheme. On Friday 17th July the scheme was relaunched with a new provider, Cycle2Work, and a new price limit of £3,000. The limit was increased in recognition of the increasing cost of bikes and the rising popularity of electric bikes. Find out more about the scheme and how it works on the University's Transport & Parking website.

Relaunch of the Cycle to Work scheme at the University of Edinburgh

Recording of We Need To Talk About AI #6: Ethics of Assistive Technologies

For those of you that missed the latest instalment in the We Need To Talk About AI panel discussions, you can now access a recording of the event via YouTube. Sixth in a series of public discussion, this event covered issues surrounding ethical aspects of assistive products. The panel discussed a broad range of innovations in assistive technology for assisting with physical disabilities, autism and other developmental conditions, long-term neurological conditions such as Parkinson's and dementia, mental health, care in old age and learning difficulties. The key questions discussed were: What are the ethical and design considerations for such assistive technologies? And how will they develop? 

Watch a recording of the event on YouTube

The Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas returns as part of Stand On Demand

The Beltane Public Engagement Network's Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas returned this month as part of Stand on Demand, a programme of online events from The Stand comedy club. The hour-long show of rapid-fire research and comedy is available for 24-hour rental from as little as £1, though higher donations are accepted. We recommend the broadcast from 15th July, which features the School's own Subramanian Ramamoorthy!

Watch this month's Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas shows with Stand On Demand

Health and Safety updates

Two new courses relating to WFH

There are two new courses on Cardinus relating to Home Working 2020 and Returning to the University Estate 2020.  These are designed to help staff by providing information on working at home, and what to expect as you start to return to University buildings. You should complete both courses whether or not you are currently working from home as it is anticipated you will return to a University building in the fullness of time.

Covid-19 training on Cardinus

InfHR Updates

As many of us are thinking about development, the following opportunities are available from the Learning and Organisation Development team.

Learning and Organisation Development

Supporting meaningful management conversations

We’re delighted to offer two new initiatives to support your critical conversations in this new Covid/digital world.

Open to all staff, the 90 minute interactive Power of Conversations webinar on 18th August is designed to support meaningful conversations at work.

For people managers Grade 7 and above, Straight Talk - Conversational Courage programmes of two half day workshops take a deeper dive to grow capability and confidence in holding skilful and courageous conversations. Two cohorts are available: Cohort 1, Wednesday 19th & 26th August; or Cohort 2, Tuesday 22nd & 29th September.

If you prefer self-paced learning, take a look at the Difficult Conversations toolkit or the IAD guide to Managing difficult conversations for researchers.

Power of Conversations webinar

Straight Talk - Conversational Courage workshops

Straight Talk - Conversational Courage Cohort 1

Straight Talk - Conversational Courage Cohort 2

Difficult Conversations toolkit (pdf)

Managing difficult conversations guide (pdf)

Time Management

For self-paced learning that provides an introduction to time management essentials, take a look at the Time Management toolkit.

Time Management toolkit (pdf)

Influencing Skills

Aimed at leaders and influencers at Grade 7 and above, the Influencing Skillsworkshop is designed to give a deeper understanding of approaches to influencing and how to be more effective in influencing situations. Two workshops are available: 15th October and 26th November.

If you prefer self-paced learning, take a look at the Influencing Others toolkit.

Influencing Skills workshop

Booking link for the Influencing Skills workshops

Influencing Others toolkit (pdf)

Email InfHR

Institutes Admin update

The Institutes Administration team (formerly level admin) are now using a new RT system and can be contacted at

From now on, please use this address to contact the team.  The previous level (1-4) admin emails will be discontinued at the end of July.

E-mail Institutes Admin

Research Services updates

Our summer Open Access check is currently underway. If you haven’t already done so, please complete the July Publications Check form by Friday 21st August.

July OA check form

While the REF2021 submission has been postponed, Open access policies remain unchanged throughout the current COVID-19 situation, and the expectation is that accepted manuscripts are deposited in Pure within three months of the date of acceptance. If there are concerns about meeting Open Access deadlines, please contact Victoria and Sam on and they will be happy to advise.

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

Email RDM Team

Student news

PhD candidate reveals Edinburgh cycling boom through animated map video

Using data from Just Eat bikes Benedek Rozemberczki has created a video showing the routes taken by users across the city, revealing a dramatic increase in usage after the lockdown was introduced. The video uses a map of the city to illustrate the usage of the Just Eat bikes in terms of routes taken and how popular these routes are. Although the animation charts bike usage from when the bikes were first installed in September 2018, it is the sudden increase in routes and popularity in early 2020 that is most striking. This boom in bike use coincides with the implementation of lockdown in Scotland, however, it is difficult to ascertain whether this is the main cause for the increased bike usage. Other factors such as the growth of the cycle system and changing patterns in mobility will also have had an impact, which is reflected in the video. The video is a by-product of a larger project called SIM-SPREAD, led by LFCS Deputy Director Rik Sarkar. The project, funded by Data-Driven Innovation, is tasked with using data to model the spread of Covid-19 in order to provide recommendations on strategies for easing lockdown, reopening the city and continuing social distancing. 

Watch the full video on our website

Our BSc in AI hits Forbes top 10 ranking for 2021 AI courses

School of Informatics BSc in Artificial Intelligence programme was named among the 10 best AI and data science undergraduate courses for 2021 by Forbes. The author of the report points out that AI and data science are hot topics in technology and business today, so more and more courses in these subjects are being offered worldwide. Graduates of these subjects have excellent career opportunities, with starting salaries nearing 6 figures not being unheard of. School of Informatics graduates certainly have outstanding career prospects in IT industry and beyond: they comfortably secure roles with employers such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, IBM, SkyScanner, Intel, ARM, Samsung, NVIDIA, Keysight, RockStar North as well as RBS, JP Morgans, Citigroup. Our school has a record number of startups and spinouts over the last ten years including those set up by our alumni, such as Fanduel, Robotical or PlayerData.

Forbes 10 best AI and data science undergraduate courses for 2021

Graphic simulation of the Greyfriars Poddy hyperloop pod prototype
Greyfriars Poddy

HYPED launch new prototype and website

The University's Hyperloop team launched their impressive new website this month showcasing their latest prototype, Greyfriars Poddy. HYPED is a team of students at the University dedicated to developing the Hyperloop concept and inspiring future generations about engineering. They are the best Hyperloop team in the UK, having received awards from SpaceX, Virgin Hyperloop One and Institution of Civil Engineers. Hyperloop is a proposed network of near-vacuum steel tubes to transport humans and cargo in magnetically levitating pods. Greyfriars Poddy is HYPED's fourth pod and showcases a major shift from past years’ ASM propulsion system to linear induction motors, as well as significant upgrades in the braking, suspension, and power modules. The team continue to develop their long term goal of designing a fully scalable Hyperloop prototype.

HYPED's new website

Edinburgh FUTURE conference

Organised by students for students, Edinburgh FUTURE conference is the first Universal Tech-driven University-based Remote Experience. The conference will utilise technology in order to create the first virtual conference, giving students the opportunity to hear valuable insight from industry professionals through both sessions and panels. Workshops will be scheduled throughout the event, allowing participants to hone their skills in an array of sectors, including finance, consulting, technology, law, and the public sector. The team's goals is not only to create a conference, but to create a community full of diverse ideas and opinions, as well as a platform for discussion and networking. The programme of virtual events is scheduled to take place in early September, however, you can follow the event on Facebook or via their website to keep up with the latest announcements.

Edinburgh FUTURE conference

Edinburgh FUTURE conference on Facebook

Portrait photo of Bonnie Webber
Bonnie Webber

Staff news

Bonnie Webber awarded ACL Lifetime Achievement Award 2020

Bonnie Webber was awarded 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award by the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL). The ceremony took place online between 5th- 10th July 2020. Bonnie Webber received her PhD from Harvard University and taught at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia for 20 years before joining the School of Informatics. Bonnie’s research interests are discourse anaphora and discourse connectives. The ACL Lifetime Achievement Award was instituted in 2002 and has been given every year since. The award is conferred to recognise the work of a researcher who has made sustained and impactful contributions to the field of computational linguistics and natural language processing.

Read the full story on the School of Informatics website

Sethu Vijayakumar led online discussion on collaborative robots as part of the RSE Investigates AI series

At the end of June Sethu Vijayakumar led an online discussion entitled “From Automation to Autonomy: Collaborative Robots driving the Future of Work”. In areas such as space exploration, self-driving cars, and Factories of the Future robots are increasingly taking on more autonomous roles but what is the right balance between human control and autonomy? What are the breakthrough technologies driving this disruption, what are its limitations and can they help define the new normal in our post-COVID future? The event was part of the Royal Society of Edinburgh's series RSE Investigates... AI, a programme of virtual conversations with the aim of highlighting the impact of AI on society.

RSE Investigates AI - From Automation to Autonomy: Collaborative Robots driving the Future of Work

Tiejun working on novel ways of improving financial risk management

Tiejun Ma has been awarded £60K from Innowise Technology for his project ‘Abnormally behaviour detection in digital financial services using supervised forecasting methods’. Digital technology revolutionises the payment and currency services. Particularly digital currencies with pseudonymity, provide opportunities for illegal financial activities. To regulate the use of digital transaction services and avoid crimes, it is vital to identify efficient ways to detect anomalous users and grasp their underlying pattern of actions. Related research of risk modelling in digital currency users mainly relied on manual effort and rule-based methods. It is the lack of further optimisation and detailed analysis of underlying patterns of data that made those methods only able to detect outliers.  This project is led by Tiejun Ma and Chang Luo, a PhD student within AIAI and Informatics. The project also involves collaboration with partners from University of Oxford and the Turing institute to explore the latest graph learning modelling techniques applied to abnormal events forecasting. The research team will explore new machine learning models combined with online data, which can identify potential risky transaction activities which improve industry financial risk management activities. The outcomes of this project will likely improve industry partners’ understanding about how to manage risks associated with clients’ activities and how to improve the prediction of risky events and alert the risk managers to further investigate these events. Due to the vast amount of the events on daily bases, this piece of research work would greatly reduce the effort and associated costs related to investigating risky transactions, improve regulation compliance, and reduce related risks and costs of running businesses. 

DDI funding for  next gen smartphone financial technologies

Xiao Chen, a post-doc research fellow in AIAI, has been awarded a three years prestigious Data-Driven Innovation Fellowship (EU Marie Skłodowska-Curie) by DDI to work on a project ‘High performance data-driven trusted financial systems for next generation smartmobile users’. The project is supervised by Tiejun Ma (Reader in Business Informatics) and will include working with Polydigi Ltd, a fintech firm with award-winning new mobile technologies with Smart City Award 2018 and a RBS award fintech startup. 5G technologies enable large-scale and distributed smart mobile devices to join in the network, and enables fast growth of new smart mobile services such as decentralised financial applications. This project will particularly explore the synergies of academic expertise within AIAI and data innovations with commercial potential.  The project will explore smart mobile technologies and client-facing trusted systems with large-scale mobile users. The research team will explore integrated data-driven design to optimise the performance of the next generation mobile services for banks, trading and insurance firms with trustworthy distributed transaction technologies. The project team will adopt an inter-disciplinary research methodology combining distributed/parallel trust algorithm design, data-driven mathematical optimisation, modelling smart mobile users and easy to use financial transaction applications to address the research objectives. The project outcomes aim to provide research-led disruptive innovation which would enable customised distributed fintech infrastructure provision and would lead to better designed “bespoke” fintech solutions. It is also expected to achieve significant economic impacts for the finance industry through mobile applications efficiently and effectively. 

Tiejun gets funding to improve performance of BFT in distributed trusted systems

Tiejun Ma has been awarded £75K from Huawei to work on a project ‘Improving performance of Byzantine fault tolerant algorithm in distributed trusted systems’. Distributed trusted systems emulate distributed “trusted” services through a set of fault tolerant distributed algorithms, security protocols and business services, connected over the Internet. Particularly, the distributed ledger technology becomes disruptive and being adopted in industry, which has attracted much attention beyond the finance and banking sectors. While Byzantine fault tolerance (BFT) through consensus algorithms has proven to be reliable and robust for decentralised permissioned transaction systems with resilient to arbitrary failures. However, due to the adoption of BFT, such a system generally has poor transaction performance and scalability.  This project will address such a widely recognised research challenge and will explore new parallel design of BFT algorithms, which combines with the data-driven multiple-objective and stochastic optimisation methods to compute numerical optimal solutions to maximise of consensus throughout. The project is led by Tiejun Ma and partnered with Huawei Edinburgh Lab. The research team aims to design and deliver a next-generation distributed BFT framework solution with trustworthy decision-making and transactions while achieving high-speed performance as well as scalable to large-scale systems. The project outputs would be adopted beyond distributed transaction systems and can be used widely for data management systems, cloud data systems, data centres, mobile, 5G and IoT services.

Ram receives funding to work on COVIBOT

Subramanian Ramamoorthy has been awarded a grant under the Engineering X Pandemic Preparedness scheme of the Royal Academy of Engineering, for work on COVIBOT: Robotic Strategies for Monitoring and Disinfection of COVID-19 environments. This will enable collaborative work with robotics and clinical academics from Latin America, including Profs. Cifuentes & Ramirez (Colombia), Becker(Brazil), Carelli(Argentina) and Barria (Chile).

Ram awarded WT funding

Subramanian Ramamoorthy has received a Wellcome Institutional Partnership Award (Wellcome iTPA) for a project entitled ‘Adaptive scanning strategies for ultrasound examinations’. This project will build on prototypes developed within the Turing project on Safe AI for Surgical Assistance. The project team propose a pairwise observation ranking reward model to learn to ultrasound scan from sub-optimal demonstration image sequences. Ultrasound scanning is an exploratory process and requires a period of discovery before an optimal image can be captured. This class of demonstration is unsuitable for most existing approaches to inverse reinforcement learning (IRL), in particular maximum entropy IRL.

Ultrasound-scanner: Learning rewards for robotic ultrasound scanning using probabilistic temporal ranking


CISMA and UoE IEEE webinar on Wearable Technologies

CISMA, Colloquia in Intelligent Sensing, Measurement and Actuators, and the UoE IEEE Student Branch are glad to invite you to their next webinar tomorrow, Tuesday 28th of July at 15:00. The theme of the event is Wearable Technologies, and we have gathered great speakers to tell us about their research and work on this field. See all the information on the flyer below, and stay tuned through Twitter @CISMA_Colloquia and @UoE_IEEE for more information.

CISMA on Twitter

UoE IEEE on Twitter

Link to virtual room on Blackboard Collaborate

HubSpot Webinar: What is the HubSpot Coding Challenge?

HubSpot invites current students and graduates to an information session on the Hubspot Coding Challenge delivered by Lorcan O'Neill, Staff Software Engineer in their Dublin office. Lorcan is very involved with campus recruitment efforts and published HubSpot's coding prep document so really knows all aspects of our process and the coding challenge. The session will be extremely beneficial to any students applying for a Spring Placement, Summer Internship or Entry Level Software Engineering roles for 2021 in our Dublin office. The webinar is in line with applications being opened and will be the perfect time for you to get better prepared for their coding challenge.

HubSpot Webinar - Info session, What is the HubSpot Coding Challenge?

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

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

CSE Public Engagement update

Call for contributors - Global Science Show, 14th Aug

This virtual science festival - using videos, images, and anything else - on Twitter returns on 14th Aug. Anyone can sign up and the notional theme for the next edition is Climate Change and the Environment (although you don't have to stick to this!). After registration, you will be assigned a time slot anywhere from 9 am to 9 pm. Each slot is a maximum of 10 minutes, but your contribution could be shorter.

Global Science Show on Eventbrite

Call for contributors - Fun Palaces Scotland Planning Forums, 3-4th October

The organisers of Fun Palaces - a communities-driven celebration of culture in all its forms taking place 3-4th October - are hosting some informal planning forums over the next few weeks. The first 30 minutes of the gatherings are optional and provide an introduction to the Fun Palaces concept for those who are potentially looking to be involved for the first time. The following hour is open for general discussion about possible ideas and developing initial plans, or just listening to the ideas in development and offering your thoughts if you wish. The next gatherings will take place from 1 pm on 4th Aug, and from 10 am on 13th Aug.

Fun Palaces on Eventbrite

Call for input - Life beyond Covid, Lords Covid-19 Committee

Do you work with organisations or communities whose voices are not often heard in policymaker circles, but could have an invaluable perspective to offer in a House of Lords inquiry around Covid impacts? If so, then consider getting in touch with the committee by email or DM them through Twitter so that you can be informed about the opportunities to contribute as and when they are announced.

Get in touch with the committee via email

Get in touch with the committee on Twitter

Training - Public Engagement Skills, National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE), various dates in August

The NCCPE are offering a selection of online training courses aimed at individual academics and public engagement professionals. Each half-day session costs £60 or £50 if you are part of the Public Engagement Professionals network, which is currently free to join. The sessions are:

Introduction to Community Engagement - 11th Aug, 10 am High-Quality Public Engagement - 18th Aug, 2 pm Meaningful Online Engagement - 20th Aug, 10 am Evaluation: developing your approach - 26th Aug, 10 am

Full details about each of these training sessions, along with booking links, can be found at the NCCPE training courses announcement page. 

NB. Please be aware that as you are based at a Scottish HEI, you (and other ScotPEN members) can book a place on the Meaningful Online Engagement session through ScotPEN for free. This session also takes place for free on 10th Aug at 2 pm. Please see the next item for details.

NCCPE training courses announcement page

Public Engagement Professionals Network

Reminder: Conference - ScotPEN Annual Gathering, 3rd-28th Aug

In a change to previous years, the ScotPEN Annual Gathering 2020 will be taking place online and this year will focus on online engagement processes. The programme has been spread throughout the month to provide greater opportunity for attendees to fit sessions around their current commitments. The welcome and panel sessions will be recorded in case the live timings do not suit. As workshops are intended to be more interactive, they will have more limited capacity and so are repeated to enable more people to benefit. To aid networking, there will be random match-ups with other delegates to meet online, and a social event will conclude the programme.

View the full programme via Sharepoint

Book your free place via Eventbrite

Email Fiona Murray with any queries

Training - Engaging UK Parliament with Research, Autumn 2020

The UK Parliament is offering a series of free webinars during the autumn aimed at researchers (at all stages, including PhD students) and knowledge exchange/public engagement staff. The sessions intend to provide insights into how to use research to engage the UK Parliament in various ways. Booking links for the various seminars - including their dates - can be found on the online training page of the UK Parliament website.

Online training from the UK Parliament

Guidance - How to Design and Plan Public Engagement Processes

Last week EFI and Policy Scotland formally launched a handbook which offers a step-wise approach to preparing public engagement activities. The focus is more on discussion-based engagement activities, but there are also things to reflect on (especially in terms of who is engaged and considering times/places for target audiences) for dissemination/information-giving processes as well.

The handbook structures the preparation process in four key stages involving a variety of helpful guiding questions and answering the 'why engage?' question first: a) Strategic - the main focus of the engagement and who will be involved (initiators and participants) b) Requirements - appropriate goal-setting, deciding on time and place, recruitment approaches, facilitation challenges c) Design - the shape of the engagement: the steps that the engagement will include d) Planning - adding to the design steps: the finer instructions that the facilitators will undertake (e.g. timeline, specific tasks)

 Handbook from EFI and Policy Scotland

Call for applications - Policy Internships Scheme, Scottish Parliament, deadline: 10th Sept

There are two UKRI Policy Internships available at the Scottish Parliament for PhD students funded by BBSRC, NERC, or AHRC. Successful applicants will be expected to produce at least one briefing paper or an equivalent piece of work. Internships are financially supported by the research councils and host partners.

Further details and the application process can be found on the UKRI Policy Internships Scheme webpage.

UKRI Policy Internships Scheme webpage

Reminder: Call for contributors - Midlothian Science Festival 2020 public programme, 17th-25th Oct

The Midlothian Science Festival team are planning to coordinate a selection of online activities in order to engage the people of Midlothian with science. Examples of what the team is looking for include: online videos; stay-at-home activities that are offered online; live online events that you can host; and potential last-minute in-person activities (just in case in-person events are possible to arrange).

If you have any content along the lines of the ideas above - or anything else that you think could be of interest - please get in touch with Ken Aitchison via email.

Email Ken Aitchison

Reminder: Call for contributors - Midlothian Science Festival 2020 online schools programme, 12th-30th Oct

Following on from the item above, the Midlothian Science Festival team are also looking to coordinate a schools-focused programme as well. There are two ways to get involved:

  1. Online activities for teachers or learners and their families that can be accessed at any time, e.g. online games, downloadable activities, lessons, etc. To add your suggestion(s), visit the Padlet online noticeboard and follow the instructions there. You can add your ideas already. The final Padlet will be promoted to schools and families prior to and during the main 12th-30th Oct period.
  2. Direct online engagement activities, e.g. supplying physical activities, live online Meet the Scientist session. The Midlothian Science Festival organisers can promote these options to Midlothian schools and arrange partnerships with one or more schools/classes. To offer your idea, please email Jane Quoiani with the details of your activity.

During the Midlothian Science Festival, the programme will be highlighted through the @EBSOClab twitter account and the #MSFSchools2020 hashtag. Programme contributors can also use the hashtag to add to social media attention.

Midlothian Science Festival online schools programme Padlet

Email Jane Quoiani

Reminder: Call for contributors - I'm a Scientist, Stay at Home platform, 31st Aug - 18th Dec

All researchers (including Postgraduates) and technicians are invited to take part in I’m a Scientist, which is an online engagement platform that helps pupils stay connected with STEM, their teachers and their classmates. You’ll develop your communication skills and gain a fresh perspective on your work (and maybe win £500), all while showing pupils that science roles can be for them.

You fill in a profile page, answer pupils' questions, and use the text-based chat system. Everything happens online; you take part from your desk or smartphone. There’s no need to prepare activities or leave your office, lab or house. Each zone in the upcoming autumn term (31st Aug - 18th Dec) will last for four weeks.

I'm a Scientist further details and sign-up

Email any questions to the I'm a Scientist team

Reminder: Call for experts - UK Parliament COP26 expert database, deadline: 2nd Aug

The UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) is currently inviting anyone with expertise in areas relating to COP26 to provide their insights through an initial survey as well as signing up to their expert database for ongoing preparation feedback. Initially the focus is on what the UK Parliament and Government priorities should be in terms of topic areas for preparing COP26.

Further background details and the survey itself can be accessed through the POST webpage on COP26.

POST webpage on COP26

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

Informatics Social Events

We are using the weekly Lockdown Bulletin to keep everyone informed of virtual social events happening in Informatics. Keep an eye on your emails to find out how you can get involved!

Best of InfGeneral

This month the best of inf-general award goes to David Sterratt for telling us about this visualisation of the Scottish witchcraft database :

Witches database visualisation

And a talk by Emma Carroll about how she used the WikiData framework to create the visualisation:

Emma's talk

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


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