Informatics Newsletter June 2020

Issue 36 of our School newsletter for students and staff.

A Message from Head of School

Jane Hillston

Dear all,

At the start of lockdown, the switch to a new way of working was abrupt and stressful.  We had to adjust to undertaking new work in a new environment and were simultaneously removed from the social support structures that working together in a building brings.  I would like to thank all colleagues and students at how well they absorbed these changes and adapted to the new ways of working.  It was heartening to see how everyone rose to the challenges of our new situation and worked together to adapt and make the most of the situation.  I was really proud to be leading the School which coped so well.

Many of us found the first few weeks exhausting but consoled ourselves that it was a temporary measure.  I genuinely believed that it would be for three months at that stage.   Now it looks as if “remote working” will be the default for at least a little longer.  I know that for many this prospect is disheartening because the challenges of working from home are substantial.  Problems that could be tolerated in a situation that was deemed to be temporary, start to feel intolerable when there is no end in sight.  If you find yourself feeling like that I urge you to speak to your line manager, supervisor, the InfHR team or me.  Although we have no magic solutions, there may be adjustments or support that we can offer.  The Building Review working group are meeting on a regular basis to plan our next steps as lockdown releases.  We will allow access to those who want to return to the buildings as soon as we can.  In the meantime we do believe that access to collect essential materials will start next week.

As I mentioned in my weekly update last week, our academic cycle continues, bringing with it positive news and causes for celebration.  For example, we congratulate Michael Burke and Yang Cao for the award of Royal Academy of Engineering Fellowships.   I would also like to congratulate everyone involved in the MSc programmes for much improved PTES results that were published last week.  PTES is the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey, an annual survey (similar to NSS) which is run by an external organisation and conducted in all UK Universities.  Our score in Informatics for overall satisfaction for AY19/20 was 87.3%, an increase of 14.2%.  Well done everyone!

With best wishes,


General Meeting slides

New staff

Academic staff

Elizabeth Polgreen started as a lecturer in Programming Languages for Trustworthy Systems, based in the Laboratory for the Foundations of Computer Science

Valentina Andries started as a University Tutor with Informatics and Moray House School of Education

Borislav Ikonomov started as a University Tutor in the Institute for Adaptive and Neural Computation

Professional services staff

Nicola Hopper started as Marketing and Recruitment Coordinator

Anna Lantouri started as Research Finance Administrator for the Institute for Computing Systems Architecture and the Institute of Perception, Action and Behaviour

Amanda Lund started as Special Projects Manager

Ryan Ferguson started as Institute Administrative Assistant

Barbara Kulawik started as Informatics Student Services (ISS) Administrator

Katie Jeffrey will start as Staffing Support Manager on 13th July

Highlights/ Announcements

Roadmap to re-opening the School - latest updates

On 18th June, the Scottish government initiated Phase 2 of the road map to relaxing the lockdown restrictions. As part of its route map, the Scottish Government outlined that from Monday 29 June Universities could resume essential research activities.  We are currently working with Estates to plan the re-opening of some essential research laboratories and for reactivation of the relevant buildings.  We will be keeping colleagues informed, so please do keep an eye on your email.

To coordinate the local actions required in order to plan and implement COVID-19 control measures within each of our buildings – we have set up a Buildings Review Working Group (BRWG). The group has representation from across the School, who you are welcome to contact if you have any queries:

  • Academic Staff (non-management) Representative – Mary Cryan 
  • PDRA Representative – Vashti Galpin 
  • PGR Representative – John Pisokas 
  • Professional services staff representative – Ken Scott 

Currently, the facilities team are working on organising the collection of the essential items from Informatics buildings.

The website below is regularly updated, please check it for the latest information.

Re-opening the School of Informatics

Tax relief while working from home

Staff may be eligible for tax relief on some working from home expenses. Normally claims for tax relief for unreimbursed home-working expenses would only be eligible for tax relief from HMRC if a staff member worked from home on a regular basis under a formal arrangement agreed by the University (i.e. those who work at home on a voluntary, ad-hoc, basis would be ineligible to claim). However, HMRC has said it will consider claims for tax relief on expenses (unreimbursed by employers) from individuals working at home due to Coronavirus measures, if their usual workplace is closed.

Guidance document provides further information.

More on HMRC website.

New policy on the use of photographs on notice boards, intranet and internet

A working group made up of representatives from the Colleges and Support Groups discussed the appropriate legal basis for the use of staff, student and visitor photographs on notice boards in University buildings, the intranet and public-facing websites, noting that NHS Lothian uses ‘consent’ throughout.

There was unanimous agreement that there was no business case for publishing without consent and that the University would require opt-in consent to publish photographs on notice boards, the intranet and the internet.

How does this policy impact Informatics staff?

If you are asked (by anyone in, and outside of the School) to provide a photo for a notice board/intranet/internet website, you should be aware that you need to give consent for the photograph to be used.

If you are an editor of a website, you should be aware that you will need to seek consent in writing before publishing anyone's photo. Consent documents should be stored centrally for evidence. 

InfComms who are responsible for School of Informatics website content will from now on be asking you to fill in a webform to give us consent to use your photo. This does not apply to archive photos at the moment.

Some of the Institutes include staff photos on their websites.  InfComms Team will create similar webforms for institute websites editors to be used when asking for consent to use staff photos.

If you have noticed a photo of you on any Informatics website that you think should be taken down or have any questions about this policy, please email InfComms.

Email InfComms

University Data Protection website

We Need To Talk About AI returns

The We Need To Talk About AI series of public discussions returns on 2nd July, streaming lvie to YouTube. The panel will discuss the Ethics of Assistive Technologies, exploring 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. What are the ethical and design considerations for such assistive technologies? And how will they develop?

Further information and meet the panel

YouTube livestream

University places 20th in QS World University Rankings 2020

The University has retained its place in the top 20 universities in world in this year's QS world university rankings, placing fifth in the UK and twentieth globally. We scored particularly highly in the employer reputation and academic reputation categories, providing welcome reassurance that we continue to be highly regarded across the world for our teaching and research excellence.

QS World University Rankings 2020

Sharing the caring: survey for professional services staff working from home with children

While there has been considerable discussion on the impact of the pandemic on academic outputs, there has been far less on the impact of the pandemic on Higher Education Professional Services staff during Covid-19. A poll run by the Women’s Higher Education Network, is aimed at Professional Services (PS) staff in Higher Education (HE) who: 1) are parents whose child/ren were home from school during the pandemic, and 2) are part of a dual career couple, where both partners worked at home during the pandemic (only the respondent needs to be in PS in HE), and neither partner has taken long term leave or furlough.

Complete the poll

The Women's Higher Education Network

RACE.ED cross university hub addressing race, ethnicity and decolonial thought launched

As part of their response to the George Floyd case and Black Lives Matter movement the University have launched RACE.ED, a cross-university hub for research and teaching on race, ethnicity and decolonial thought. The new website provides a virtual platform to showcase the vibrant research, teaching and knowledge exchange happening across various disciplines and inter-disciplinary fields at the University, including (but not limited to): Education, French, Geography, History, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies Philosophy, Politics and International Relations, Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work and Work and Organization Studies. RACE.ED aims to advance conversations about race and its global persistence in the 21st Century, which in future will include activities, events, interventions and a new cross-university course on Race and Decolonial Studies.


Including start and end times when sending meeting invites

When sending out meeting invites to colleagues within the School (many who don’t use Office365) could you please include the date and start/end time of the meeting, so those who don’t use Office365 can update within their diary. As a general rule, I believe professional services staff use Office365, however, a large number (majority) of academic and research staff do not.

Zoom licence

Zoom is now officially supported by IS, although not preferred and to be used as last resort. You can now setup an account easily with addresses (or migrate one, if you already have a 'personal' account with Zoom using an @ed address), and take advantage of the University's license - no 40-min limit, larger participant capacity, IS support, etc. The most recent Zoom client is available through the UoE Software Center on supported computers, so it can be installed more easily than before too.

More info on University Zoom licence

Recent changes within the InfComms team

The team is now called Marketing, Communications and Outreach Team. Marketing for student recruitment has been added to our remit as of 1st April 2020.

The team currently comprises of:

Kasia Kokowska (lead) – marketing, comms and outreach manager

Heather McComb – website and social media coordinator (Heather has worked in her role in a temporary and then part-time capacity since October 2019)

Nicola Hopper – marketing and recruitment coordinator (Nicola started on 18th May 2020)

We have been really busy working from home. On top of our usual tasks our main projects at the moment are:

  • Student conversion comms and activities for 2020 entry students
  • Change comms (continuing students, programme changes, reopening of the school, etc)
  • Resilience comms – we are putting together your weekly Lockdown Bulletin
  • Website accessibility audit

To help us deal with queries in a smooth and timely manner please contact us using our shared inbox. If your issue is not urgent, please consider holding off for now.

E-mail InfComms

You might also want to use one of our webforms.

Fill in a webform

We are working on new guidance regarding some of the work we do (communication principles, website content) to help address colleagues’ needs. Guidance will be published on our website and we will let you know when it’s ready.

Health and Safety updates

First aid training during Covid-19 for ALL staff

The Health and Safety department has added some training videos to their website for information during the current Covid-19 situation.  These videos are aimed at ALL staff whether first aid trained or not, and are intended to inform and update on the first aid situation during the coronavirus outbreak.  There are currently three short videos but they hope to add to this in the coming weeks.  These currently cover:

  • Emergency procedures and preventing accidents during Covid-19
  • Changes to first aid guidance during Covid-19
  • Some examples of serious first aid situations

First aid training videos

Further information regarding first aid during the current situation

Research Services updates

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

Undergraduate students create website comparing Covid-19's impact across Scotland

Third-year Computer Science students Mark Swan and Calum McMeekin have developed CovidMaps, an interactive website that facilitates comparison of the impact of Covid-19 between local authorities in Scotland. The website uses Covid-19 data compiled by the Scottish Government, specifically the number of deaths in care homes and hospitals, and organises this by local authority district or health board, thus facilitating comparison between regions in Scotland. The data is then presented as an interactive map, allowing the user to easily compare across regions and visualise the impact Covid-19 is having in the country. Software is used to automatically update data daily and weekly, ensuring that the website provides up-to-date information for users. The project is driven by a desire to present the impact of Covid-19 in Scotland in a clear, easily digestible way so as to make it accessible to the general public, enabling them to see how their local area compares to the rest of the country.

CovidMaps website

Informatics PhD students in 3 Minute Thesis University Final

Congratulations to our PhD students who performed very well in this year's Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition. Carol Chermaz and Luke Darlow won the College of Science and Engineering heats and will progress to the University heats, which take place on Thursday 25th June. Michael Camilleri and Mina Doosti were runners up and our School winners, so receive a cash prize.

3MT at the University of Edinburgh

CompSoc and Hoppers' donations to Turing Trust help to send PCs to Malawi

Donations made by Compsoc and Hoppers to the Turing Trust have helped to send a further 1600 PCs to Malawi, the largest shipment the Turing Trust have ever sent to the country. The goal of the Turing Trust is to help all students access a technology-enabled education. They have made great progress over the last few years, particularly in Malawi, where their projects are focussed in the the Northern region of the country. In this area they have increased the percentage of secondary schools that have computer labs from just 2% up to 32% by the end of 2019. In the Turing Trusts' latest shipment, donations from CompSoc and Hoppers paid for the costs of shipping 20 and 178 PCs respectively.

The Turing Trust

George Karabassis creates global Covid-19-tracking website that centres user experience

Second year Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence student George Karabassis has created Covid19livespread, a website that presents  detailed Covid-19 data and statistics from around the world in a clear, user-friendly way. The website uses a range of graphs, maps and even an interactive 3D globe to present data collected from Worldometer and Johns Hopkins University, creating a user interface that is easy to navigate and fun to use. The site is optimised for mobile devices and presents data for countries all over the world, making it easier for people to find relevant information for them and also compare the spread of Covid-19 in different countries.


George's personal page

Carol Chermaz wins the Hurricane Challenge 2.0

Carol Chermaz has developed ASE (the Automatic Sound Engineer), an algorithm that makes sure speech remains intelligible when played back in noisy and reverberant environments. Applications include TV, radio, laptops, telephones, smart speakers, etc. The algorithm recently won the Hurricane Challenge 2.0, a multi-language, large-scale evaluation of such algorithms. ASE beat the baseline, while providing a more pleasant sound. Intelligibility improvements hit a record of 7 dB Equivalent Intensity Change, which means that you could listen to the TV using less than 1/4 the power and understand the same percentage of words. Official results will be published at Interspeech 2020, which will host a special session for the Challenge.

Carol's blog 

Staff news

William Waites involved in test, trace and isolate study to save lives and the economy

A study involving LFCS research associate Dr William Waites used mathematical and economic models to investigate the effectiveness of more than 30 different approaches to tackling Covid-19. Led by University College London, the research indicates that population-wide testing, contact tracing and isolation in the UK could save more than 50,000 lives and around £700bn over the next two years. The findings – which have yet to be peer reviewed – show that combining targeted testing of people with symptoms, tracing and isolating their contacts, and widespread use of face coverings could suppress the epidemic.  

Find out more on our website

Read a pre-print of the research now

Aggelos Kiayias writes about the importance of privacy in contact tracing for University Covid-19 response site

Professor Aggelos Kiayias, Chair in Cyber Security and Privacy, has written a piece for the University's Covid-19 'Expert Insights' website entitled, 'Privacy is key to success of contact tracing'. In the article he argues that contact tracing apps could play an essential part in tackling the spread of Covid-19, but only if privacy concerns relating to the technology are addressed. Two approaches to the design of contact tracing apps have emerged: a centralised approach, like the NHS contact tracing apps; and a decentralised approach, favoured by the likes of Apple and Google. The key distinction between the two approaches is the extent to which authorities play a role, which inevitably impacts upon privacy concerns such as protection from cyber-attacks and doubt over remaining true to purpose.

Read the full article on our website

Informatics staff involved in DECOVID project

Chris Williams, Alex Bird and Michael Camilleri are part of a UoE Data Analytics team involving machine learners and statisticians led by Dr Catalina Vallejos (IGMM) on the DECOVID project.  DECOVID aims to receive clinical data from hospitals, frequently updated, as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds to allow researchers and clinicians to provide rapid and robust insights that could lead to more effective clinical treatment strategies for key clinical, operational and regulatory decision-makers. They also want to understand and reduce the impact on patients who do not have COVID-19.

DECOVID Data Analytics Team

Rik Sarkar gets DDI funding to work on a Covid-19 project

Rik Sarkar was awarded £17K from DDI to work on a Covid-19 project SIM-SPREAD: Data Driven Simulation and Modelling for Infection Spread Reduction and Cultural and Economic Reopening in Edinburgh. This project will model the spread of viral infection to provide recommendations on strategies for lockdown, reopening and social distancing. Closure of business and cultural activities due to COVID imposes a significant social and economic loss. The project will use probabilistic simulation and statistical modelling based on real data to gain actionable insights. Special attention will be paid to cultural activities and festivals, which are integral to life and economy in Edinburgh City. The cross disciplinary team for the project includes advisors from governance, transportation, epidemiology and event management; the background of the researchers span computer science, economics and business. 

DK Arvind gets DDI funding to work on Covid-19 project

DK Arvind from Centre for Speckled Computing was awarded £20K from DDI to work on his project Monitoring COVID-19 Patients using the Respeck device at the Lothian Regional Infectious Diseases Unit (RIDU). The project brings together a multidisciplinary team of clinicians at the Western General Hospital. The pulmonary manifestation of infection of the severe acute respiratory syndrome SARS-CoV-2 is the inflammation of lung tissues, and the exhibition of patterns of dyspnea - shortness of breath, and elevated respiratory rates above 30 breaths/minute. Current practice in hospital wards is for nurses to estimate manually and record the respiratory rate at hourly intervals with the exact period based on the prognosis of the attending physician. The hypothesis of this study is that continuous respiratory monitoring (minute-level frequency) may reveal underlying trends and patterns that are missed when only using the current manual snapshot measurements. The Respeck device, developed in the Centre for Speckled Computing, School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh, is worn as a plaster on the chest and transmits wirelessly continuous measures of the respiratory rate/flow to a mobile phone for onward transmission to the GoogleCloud for storage. The Respeck time-series data will be analysed using a selection of machine learning based methods for clearly identifiable patterns, with good sensitivity and specificity that could be used to predict deterioration in COVID-19 patients. The patients in the isolation rooms at the Lothian Regional Infectious Diseases Unit (RIDU) in the Western General Hospital will each be attached with a Respeck on admission. The latest minute average of the respiratory rates for all the patients and their trends over the previous four to six hours can be viewed in a dashboard on a mobile device such as a tablet. At a glance the nurses can view and interrogate the status and trends in the respiratory rate for all the patients in the hospital ward. Qualitative data will be gathered from the nurses and doctors using a mixture of questionnaires and interviews on their perception of using continuous respiratory monitoring, and its practicability and acceptability on the wards as feedback for improvements. Future plans include remote monitoring using the Respeck sensor of COVID-19 recovered patients in their homes, as well as the elderly with morbidities, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and COPD, to detect early signs of deterioration in their respiratory function.

DK Arvind works with Imperial College on INHALE project

DK Arvind is also a partner on EPSRC-funded INHALE project led by Imperial College London, which looks at air pollution during and after the lockdown. To assess levels of pollution, a network of four monitors in west London will collect information on the size distribution of particulate matter – microscopic particles suspended in the air, that form air pollution. The Airspeck air pollution monitors, developed at the University of Edinburgh, have sensors that count particulate matter in the air. The data collected shows the amount of different sized particles that are present at a given time, and is uploaded in real-time to the Cloud for storage and processing. The particulate data collected by the monitors will feed into the modelling of pollution dispersion, using computational models. The researchers expect to see a difference in the levels of pollutants during lockdown, and as restrictions ease. The INHALE study aims to assess the impact of pollution on personal health. The research integrates modelling of air pollution and air-flow. By modelling how pollution moves around our cities, and how ‘green infrastructure’ – such as roadside hedges – mitigates pollution, we can improve our understanding of how people are exposed to different air pollutants in urban environments. The researchers hope that future studies could apply their team to the COVID-19 pandemic. This could include investigations of how, or if, the virus can exist in the air, relating pollution levels to patient outcomes, and modelling the dispersion of the virus and the effectiveness of face masks.

Edinburgh NLP team has 18 papers to be presented at the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Edinburgh Natural Language Processing team has a massive 18 papers in total accepted to be presented at the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics. ACL is the premier conference of the field of computational linguistics, covering a broad spectrum of diverse research areas that are concerned with computational approaches to natural language. It will take place online from July 5th through July 10th, 2020. 

Leonid Libkin appointed the next General Chair of ACM PODS

Leonid Libkin has been appointed the next General Chair of ACM PODS (Symposium on Principles of Database Systems), starting in June. PODS is the premiere international conference on the foundation aspects of database systems, and one of the oldest conferences in the field of data management, running since 1982, now in its 39th edition.

Benjamin Bach helps the Rapid Assistance in Modelling the Pandemic consortium

Benjamin Bach is volunteering his time to work on data visualization to help the RAMP (Rapid Assistance in Modelling the Pandemic) consortium to build visualizations for Covid19 related model data. It is a UK initiative by the Royal Society, involving Scottish partners in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

RAMP Consortium

Sethu lead a panel on Robotics and Autonomous Systems at the CogX Global Leadership Summit

Sethu Vijayakumar lead Collaborative Robotics and Autonomous Systems panel discussion at the CogX Global Leadership Summit and Festival of AI & Breakthrough Technology in June 2020. With 30,000 participants, 600 speakers covering 18 topics, this event is the biggest, most inclusive and forward thinking of its kind, bringing together leaders, CEO's, entrepreneurs, policy makers, artists, academics and activists to address the question "How do we get the next 10 years right".

Health and well-being


Dedicated health and well-being advice for staff is available from the website below

Staff health during Covid-19 pandemic


Feeling overwhelmed or anxious by the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak is understandable. We appreciate that you may have concerns about how this will impact you or your family and friends.

Ways to Manage Fears & Anxieties:

  • Keep connected. Maintaining social networks, even online, can help maintain a sense of normality, and provide valuable outlets for sharing feelings and relieving stress.
  • Be mindful of assumptions about others. Someone who has a cough or a fever does not necessarily have coronavirus.  Self-awareness is important in not stigmatizing others in our community.
  • Stay healthy. Continue to practise good hygiene measures:
    • Avoid direct hand contact with your eyes, nose and mouth.
    • Wash hands with soap and water or alcohol hand sanitiser, after coughing or sneezing, after going to the toilet, and prior to eating and drinking.
    • When coughing or sneezing, cover your nose and mouth with disposable tissues and disposing of them in nearest waste bin after use.
    • Avoid contact with others who are sick and stay home while sick.

Read Young Minds’ blog on managing anxiety during the Coronavirus outbreak: What to do if you’re anxious about Coronavirus.

Read the Government's guidance on how to look after your mental health and wellbeing during the Covid-19 outbreak.

If you would like further support, a number of resources are available to you:

  • you can speak to the student support team in your School
  • The Chaplaincy’s Listening Service will continue remotely throughout the Covid-19 closure period. If you would like an appointment with the Listening Service, please email:
  • The University Chaplaincy is also creating blogs to help us through Covid-19 lockdowns and meltdowns, and to raise our spirits
  • the Residence Life team (if you are staying in University accommodation)
  • the Students’ Association Advice Place is also running their service remotely and can be contacted via phone or email during their usual opening hours
  • Student Counselling Service have lots of advice online about managing stress and anxiety
  • The Student's Association have some dedicated Covid-19 webpages that cover taking care of your mental health during this challenging period and ways to volunteer in the local community

Information (in Chinese) on the services available to students can be found on these leaflets:

Student Services Guide Simplified Chinese

Student Services Guide Traditional Chinese

Self-help and online resources:

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 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 BAME participants - Global Science Show, 17th July

The Global Science Show is a virtual science festival that is held every month through Twitter. Each show lasts for 12 hours and is comprised of a series of up to 10-minute time slots. For the next edition on Fri 17th Jul, the organisers are collaborating with the Minorities in STEM network and are looking for presenters who identify as Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic.

A couple of non-compulsory introductory sessions will be held on Zoom, one on 30th Jun and one on 2nd Jul, for those who wish to find out more. Additional individual support is available to those new to online science engagement.

Further details and register

Call for entries - Max Perutz Science Writing Award for MRC PhD students, 30th Jun

To enter this competition, you need to tell the judging panel in 1,100 words about research that is within the research field of your PhD and why it matters. You must do this in a way that will interest a non-scientific reader – the hundreds of thousands of people who read the Observer. You can write about your research, the research of someone you work with, or someone else entirely. It just needs to be in your field.The winner will receive a prize of £1,500. There will also be cash prizes for the runners-up and all shortlisted entries. Everyone who is shortlisted will be invited to a science writing masterclass. Further advice, including recorded webinars, as well as the entry process is available on the website.

Max Perutz Science Writing Award

Funding - UKRI / NIHR Covid-19 funding calls, open call

The NIHR/ UKRI Covid-19 rapid response funding call will close on 30th June. In recognition of research still needing attention, NIHR has launched a new Recovery and Learning call focused on the medium/long-term health and social care consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.

NIHR/ UKRI Covid-19 rapid response funding call

Further details of the transition to the new funding

Call for applications - UK Parliamentary Academic Fellowship Scheme, 26th June

This open call from the UK Parliament enables academics and knowledge exchange/impact staff to suggest project ideas, which might include contributing to the core work of an office, filling gaps in expertise, helping to grow Parliament’s academic networks, informing parliamentary scrutiny, analysing and evaluating parliamentary practices, or building staff capacity and skills. Fellowships are hosted by particular offices, including the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology; a list is available from page 10 of the guidance document. Fellowships should start in January 2021, with funding secured independently by applicants.

Queries can be directed to the Knowledge Exchange Unit at the UK Parliament.

UK Parliamentary Fellowship Scheme guidance document

Full details of the open call, including the complete application process and guidance

Call for BIG executive committee members

BIG is the skills sharing network for individuals involved in the communication of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects. The annual call for new BIG Executive Committee members is now live and requires the submission of a nomination form. To find out more, you can contact the existing committee members. The new committee will be announced during the BIG Event Online (see below) on 23rd Jul.

How to volunteer for the BIG Executive Committee and role descriptions

Contact the existing BIG committee members

Conference - 2020 BIG Event Online, 16th Jul - 6th Aug

Interested in practical sessions to develop your science communication skills? The BIG Event is going online this year and all sessions are free for BIG members. (Becoming a member costs £30 and has benefits across the year.) With sessions focusing on developing ideas, having a leadership role, engaging younger children, addressing racism, and more, there is a diverse set of sessions to meet different personal-development needs.

Further information and joining details

Update: Call for contributors - Falling Walls Berlin - Nov 2020, various deadlines

Taking their inspiration from the fall of the Berlin Wall 30 years ago, Falling Walls seeks to explore which barriers will be next overcome by combining science, business, and society. With a commitment for the events to take place online this year, the organisers of Falling Walls Engage 2020 are currently inviting nominations for the Breakthroughs of the Year. The closing deadline for nominations is 1st Sept and there are 10 categories in total (including Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, Digital Education, etc).

There is also a separate call for applications for novel science engagement projects that break the wall between science and society and could be transferred to other contexts. The deadline for this strand of activity has been extended to 30th Jun.

Falling Walls conference

Submit nomination for Breakthroughs of the Year

Call for applications for novel science engagement projects

Online application form for novel science engagement projects

Reminder: Funding - UKRI and Covid-19, open call, no deadline

UKRI have established an open call for short-term projects that address and mitigate the health, social, economic, cultural and environmental impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Researchers holding existing UKRI standard grants should in the first instance consider whether they could repurpose that funding to address the objectives of this call. Repurposing your existing grant is the quickest way to start the research.

UKRI has also made available a number of their research and innovation priorities - including public engagement themes, as well as disciplines such as Engineering, Healthcare, Environment, Informatics, etc.

Further information on the open call

Apply to switch your existing funding

UKRI research and innovation priorities

Reminder: Call for resources - Moray House Online School

To improve our support for teachers, learners, and parents, our colleagues in the School of Education are developing the Moray House Online School so that individuals beyond the University can find our activities much more easily. Many of you have already submitted resources, and a number of volunteers (such as trainee teachers) are going through these to ensure they appear in the most appropriate sections of the site. However, further resources can be submitted at any time by emailing directly.

When submitting your resources, it would be helpful to include some of the details highlighted in the guidance document - however, don't worry if you are not able to do this. (These notes were developed for a collation spreadsheet, so ignore the fact it says 'column' in the table!)

Moray House Online School

Submit further resources

Guidance document for submitting resources

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... the guardian of inf-general himself, Julian Bradfield for collating okara recipes! For the non-vegans in Informatics, okara is what's left in the home production of tofu (also, a rich source of soya fibre)

So here's what people are doing with okara:

Michael Herrmann adds it to bread dough.

Adam Kirylczuk adds it to mince meat for hamburgers.

Wen Kokke recommends Messy Vegan Cook website for okara recipes and the following in particular:

Italian Okara Meatless Meatballs

Easy Fried Okara Patties

How to Make Vegan Fish with Okara

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