Informatics Newsletter June 2019

Issue 26 of our School newsletter for students and staff.

Jane Hillston

A Message from Head of School

Dear Colleagues,

As we are approaching the holiday season, let me thank you all very much for a very successful year in the School.

I’m pleased to announce that the Turing Trust will remain our charity of the year for the next academic year. In this past year, between the School, CompSoc and Hoppers, we have raised over £2000. Our students volunteered for the charity and you might have seen Turing Branded hoodies around the building. Thank you to everyone who has supported the various initiatives since last September and thus helped the Turing Trust to dispatch some refurbished equipment to Malawi.

If you haven’t yet made use of online training opportunities, please do. You can access multiple trainings and toolkits via LEARN and MyEd. I strongly encourage you to do the Data Protection Training and the course on Information Security Essentials, in particular. See below for the list and feedback on some of the training courses our staff participated in.

I wish all of you happy holiday when it comes and I’m looking forward to my holiday from 5th-22nd July.

Best wishes,


New Staff

Professional Services

Lee Wilson, Director of Innovation Partnerships (Bayes Centre), started on 12th June 2019

Research Staff

Pinzhen (Patrick) Chen, Research Associate (ILCC), started on 3rd June 2019

Lena Podoletz, Research Assistant (CISA), started on 3rd June 2019

Mihaela-Catalina Stoian, Research Assistant (ILCC), started on 11th June 2019

Amelie Levray, Research Associate (CISA) - new role, started on 15th June 2019

Philip Saville, Research Associate (LFCS), started on 3rd June 2019


Marius  Lorek, Outreach and Public Engagement Intern, started on 3rd June 2019

Sam Angell, Communications Intern, started on 3rd June 2019

Staff changes in IGS & CDTs

IGS team

Patrick Hudson has taken on the role of Senior Graduate School Coordinator and will shortly be responsible for much of the day to day running of the Graduate School office.  

Agapi Stylianidou was successful in securing the role of IGS Recruitment and Admissions Administrator and has already started in her new role.

CDT team

Sally Galloway is now the CDT Coordinator for the new CDT in Natural Language Processing.

Ekaterina Churkina is now the CDT Coordinator for the new CDT in BioMedAI.

Gregor Hall will be taking on the role of CDT Administrator for Pervasive Parallelism from 1st July. 

Siobhan Carroll will be joining us from the Business School and will be the CDT Administrator for Data Science, starting 8th July.

Informatics Murder Mystery Banner


Informatics Murder Mystery Midsummer Edition

Have you missed the Informatics Murder Mystery at the Jamboree? Despair not! We have organised a Midsummer Edition on 19th July for all of you have couldn't participate the last time. Come and play with us to find out who killed Professor Boddy! 

Places limited.

Book your tickets

A word from Research Services

Our next Open Access check is scheduled for early July. Please take the time to review your papers and let us know whether your publications are up to date. Victoria and Eva will work with you to add any missing papers to Pure.

As always, questions and comments on Pure, open access and REF are all welcome.

A note from Finance

Informatics Finance Group launch

In May this year the School’s finance office piloted the first finance group session. This is an opportunity for finance-related professional services roles from any areas of the School to come together – discuss work, developments, share knowledge, where things can be improved and where we can exchange best practice. We will aim to meet every 6-8 weeks. In the forthcoming plan is a review of internal web guidance for staff and students on expenses and purchasing, presented on the Informatics Intranet.

Any questions, please just visit Evgenia Teplechuk, Head of Finance and Administration in Office 5.39.

School News

NASA Valkyrie interactive experience installed at Bayes Centre

An interactive touchscreen display has been installed in the Bayes Centre foyer, providing further information about the NASA Valkyrie.

NASA Valkyrie interactive experience installed at Bayes Centre

Informatics students nominated for UK Open Source Awards

Two Informatics students, Antreas Antoniou (Data Science) and Andrew Brock (Robotics and Autonomous Systems), were shortlisted for UK Open Source Awards in the student category.

Informatics students nominated for UK Open Source Awards

List of winners

Research successes

Experiential AI

Researchers from Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt Universities, including Informatics Vaishak Belle, Jane Hillston, Michael Rovatsos and Ewa Luger have proposed a new research agenda in which artists and scientists come together, called Experiential AI. Their hypothesis is that art can mediate between computer code and human comprehension to overcome the limitations of explanations in and for AI systems. Artists can make the boundaries of systems visible and offer novel ways to make the reasoning of AI transparent and decipherable. Artistic practice can explore new configurations of humans and algorithms, mapping the terrain of inter-agencies between people and machines. This can help to understand how humans are conditioned by their participation in algorithmic processes. Vaishak, accompanied by Edinburgh College of Art colleagues, gave a talk on this new research agenda at the ZKM Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe Germany.

Better Citizen Science

Kobi Gal won the 2019 Nesta Collective Intelligence grant. Kobi will test whether personalised recommendations increase the engagement, retention and quality of contributions that people make to citizen science projects on the SciStarter platform, one of the largest citizen science platforms on the web. This experiment will compare two types of intelligent recommendation algorithms that make automatic predictions about users' interests based on their past interactions with SciStarter. The experiment will test whether these algorithms will make it easier for participants to discover the projects most suitable for them. It will also explore whether this ultimately leads to increased engagement, longer retention, improved contributions, and better quality data. It will also explore how it could increase participation by communities who don’t typically engage with citizen science projects. Citizen scientists advance research in fields such as astronomy or zoology by sharing and analysing data, but it remains a fundamental challenge for citizen science to attract and retain enough participants to ensure the achievement of project goals. The way in which current search engines on citizen science platforms work makes it often difficult for individuals to find projects on the platform that match their interests and capabilities. The findings of this experiment will contribute to understanding about how to improve matching algorithms to increase citizen engagement and retention rates on collective intelligence platforms. This is relevant not just for the citizen science community, but for any collective intelligence approach that involves crowdsourcing or matching individuals to specific tasks or projects.

Student news

Student Travel Fund

The School of Informatics made funds available to support students’ travel to attend activities related to their programme of study. The following students were awarded;

Haoyu Liu (BSc Computer Science), awarded £500 towards travel to Kyoto for the IEEE PerCom conference.

Arun Raja (BSc Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science), awarded £500 towards travel to Hawaii for the AAAI 19 conference.

Jorge Sanz Maroto (MInf Informatics), awarded £100 towards travel to Southampton for the UK national Hacking competition (HECC).

Ho-Chun Herbert Chang (MSc Artificial Intelligence), awarded £100 towards travel to Cambridge for the Complex Networks 2018 conference.

Edward Martin (MSc Artificial Intelligence), awarded £100 towards travel to Newcastle for the ICAD 2019 conference.

Chiara Semenzin (MSc Cognitive Science), awarded £500 towards your travel to Santa Fe for the Complex Systems Summer School.


The Summer Graduation ceremony is taking place on Monday 1st July. Following the ceremony, there will be a graduation reception held by the School of Informatics at the Atrium of the Informatics Forum at 14:00-16:00.  There will be a prize-giving presentation and light refreshments.

Please note that this is an invite-only event, however, please do let us know if you will be bringing any family/friends along with you by registering for the required amount of tickets.  

Book your tickets


Huawei guidance

See below a copy of the University of Edinburgh’s guidance, regarding the U.S. Government’s decision to add Huawei to the BIS Entity List.  This guidance has been prepared by UoE’s Legal Services team, for the initial guidance of employees, following on from the U.S. Government’s recent decisions. Our Business Development Executives (BDE’s) will follow up with individuals who have a contract with Huawei.  It is also intended to run a workshop/drop-in session for those with more general questions they would like answered.  More details on this will follow.

Erasmus Photos
This year some of our staff members went East for their Erasmus + staff training weeks: Dresden, Germany and Katowice, Poland

Erasmus +

Funding is available NOW for University of Edinburgh staff to spend a week teaching or undertaking training and career development activities at one of our Erasmus+ partner institutions abroad. This opportunity is available to ALL staff on a University of Edinburgh contract, whether full time or part time, permanent or temporary, or from academic or professional services.  Opportunities exist across Europe as well as at selected partners outside of Europe. 

Please note that in future applications for absence and School funding (if applicable) for Erasmus+ activities must be made through the School staff development process, with confirmation of support from line manager. Under normal circumstances, the expectation is that staff will take advantage of the Erasmus+ scheme (assuming it continues to be available) not more than once in every three years.

Staff development fund

Traffic management, George Square area, Fringe 2019

One-way system and partial road closure will be in operation in George Square starting 27th June. Please consult the document below for more info.

Traffic management

Out-of-office messages

With the holiday season approaching, but also as a general point of good practice, may I remind everyone to set automatic out-of-office messages on their email if they are going to be out of contact for periods of a day or more?

It is to everyone’s advantage to know when a message may be read and, in the case of extended absences, thereby be able to consider taking alternative action, if a matter is urgent. Including alternative contacts in your message, where possible, is a good idea.

More information on absences 

KiltWalk, Sunday 15th September

50% off registration is available to all Edinburgh University staff and students fundraising in aid of any cause, centre or project here at the University of Edinburgh. You have a choice of three distances: Mighty Stride (24 miles) / Big Stroll (15.5 miles) / Wee Wander (5 miles). And, thanks to the support of The Hunter Foundation, all of your fundraising will be topped up by 40%. This means that 140% of the money you raise will go straight to your chosen area of the University and put to use straight away.

Outreach and Public Engagement

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

CSE Public Engagement update

Conference - Talking Maths in Public, Cambridge, 29th-31st Aug

With a focus on maths communication, the second Talking Maths in Public conference aims to: enable connections with others working in the field, especially leaders in the field; provide cross-disciplinary communication training; and contribute to discussions about current priorities and practical challenges.

Tickets cost £115 for the three days. Some bursaries to cover costs are available (with a deadline for applications on 22nd July).

Further programme details and booking

Call for participation - Midlothian Science Festival Schools programme (7th-11th Oct), deadline: 15th July

This call is now open with the Easter Bush Science Outreach Centre (EBSOC) looking to develop a diverse programme for schools in the Midlothian area.

EBSOC will include details about workshops and other offerings within digital and print versions of a festival booklet which will be distributed to schools; they will also promote through social media as well as collate feedback data into an evaluation report that they will share with contributors after the festival. In terms of bookings, schools will contact contributors directly, so they can determine how and when sessions can be delivered.

All ideas - from brand-new to previously tested - are welcome for any age range.

Submit an idea

Any questions should be directed to Jayne Quoiani

E-mail Jayne

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, Appleton Tower Level 5

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 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

When? Tuesdays, 5:30pm to 7:30pm

Where? At the tables in MF1

What? We will have materials for acrylic painting, lino cut and origami. If you have you own project to work on, you can bring it, too!

Everyone is welcome, just come by, hang out, make some art! 

Auld Alliance French Movie Club

There will be an update about the next event via the inf-general mailing list!

Guess who?

Who has recently won one of the Open University coveted student shadowing scheme places?

She's so lucky!

OU Student Shadowing Scheme

Best of inf-general

What's the least expected thing you can buy on inf-general? Bosch fridge? Rare currency (at good exchange rate)? Mobile, phones, laptops? Nah, must be 2 bags of dried New Mexico chilis. This month's award goes to Bonnie Webber! Chilis went in less than an hour!

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.

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