Informatics Newsletter June 2022
Issue 57 of our School newsletter for students and staff.
A Message from the Head of School
As we reach the end of June there is a collective sense of relaxation, as many major elements of the academic year, and specifically exams and exam boards, are over. Indeed, now we have only the positive outcome of exams to look forward to – the graduation ceremony.
I have written before about how much I always enjoy the graduation ceremony and the associated prize-giving events, when we have the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of our graduands. This year is particularly special for me because we have an honorary graduand, and it is Professor Dame Muffy Calder. The award of an honorary degree is one of the greatest honours that the University confers. Nominations are collected from the Schools but then rigorously scrunitinsed at both College and University level before an invitation is issued.
In the case of Muffy, she was selected by the University in 2019 but the pandemic meant that this is the first in-person graduation ceremony since then so her award has been deferred. I know that she is delighted that to be taking part in the ceremony next month.
Muffy is well-known within the formal methods community where she develops methods for mathematical modelling and automated reasoning for concurrent systems --- most recently, wireless sensor systems. Beyond her own research, Muffy also makes substantial contributions as an advocate for the discipline, from serving on the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology to recording a video to remind people of the valuable contribution of computer science during the pandemic.
Muffy Calder has been a role model and mentor for me throughout my career so it will be a particular pleasure for me to see her receive this recognition. She has a long association with School of Informatics and was a lecturer in the Department of Computer Science in the early 1980s. She provides a role model for all of us and I am very pleased that we are able to celebrate her achievements in this way.
With best wishes,
Emily Martin started as Events Admin and Receptionist on 13 June 2022.
Eilidh Guild started as Health and Safety Manager on 13 June 2022.
Staff Awards 2022 winners announced
All Informatics staff and PGR students were invited to join colleagues, new and old, for an informal celebration to mark the end of the 2021/22 academic year, which took place on the roof terrace on Wednesday 22 June.
The winners of this year's staff awards were announced by Jane Hillston at the celebration. Please visit the link below for a full list of winners and nominees.
Pride Month - June 2022
June is Pride Month to celebrate the LGBTQ community, which has seen University students and staff take part in events such as a Community Space drop-in event at the Chaplaincy, and a pride badge making workshop ahead of Edinburgh Pride, as well as the usual year-round initiatives like the Staff Pride Network Virtual Social - a regular weekly Wednesday lunchtime coffee meet-up and once a month our evening social event.
University staff and students joined the march at Edinburgh Pride 2022 on Saturday 25 June, identified by their their Staff Pride Network logo t-shirts and pride banner.
This was followed by a chill-out space and refreshments available for staff and students on campus after the march. The University also flew the Progress flag over Old College during the march.
Follow the University's Staff Pride Network for LGBT+ colleagues and allies, and keep up to date with the latest news, events and discussions:
Informatics Website User Feedback
We’re currently working on a major project aimed at improving how we govern and maintain the School of Informatics web presence. We’re looking to collect feedback from general website users (faculty, research students, professional services etc.) to better understand their experience.
We’ve put together a concise 5 minute survey and would appreciate if as many people within Informatics as possible fill it in. Please click on the link below to start the survey.
University of Edinburgh ranked 15th in the world in QS World University Rankings 2023
The University of Edinburgh is one of the world's top universities and placed 15th in the 2023 QS World University Rankings.
Research staff - have you tried the new Research Staff Hub?
Co-ordinated by the Institute for Academic Development, the Research Staff Hub brings together information and resources from across the University to support researchers to undertake their role, develop themselves and progress in their chosen career. It also provides updates on progress of the Concordat to Support the Career Development, at the University of Edinburgh.
- Supporting research staff to undertake their role, develop themselves and progress in their career.
- Dedicated resources to help managers of researchers to support the research staff they employ.
- Updates on progress of the Concordat to Support the Career Development, at the University of Edinburgh.
Mylifestyle hub - Staff benefits and discounts for summer
As we enter the summer break, it seems fitting to remind colleagues about the staff benefits hub. The Mylifestyle hub gives staff access to numerous retail discounts, the University’s Childcare Voucher Scheme (existing members only) and the Cycle to Work Scheme.
Meet our professional services
Informatics Learning Technology Service
As we are going through some restructuring at the moment, and with our buildings occupied once again as part of hybrid working, we thought this would be an ideal opportunity to reintroduce you to the Professional Services teams within the School of Informatics. Our second post is brought to you by Alex Burford, telling us what happens in the Informatics Learning Technology Service.
Stay tuned for an introduction to a different professional services team with each newsletter.
Ethics office hours
The Informatics ethics committee will continue to hold an office hour every first Monday of the month, 4pm-5pm (6 June, 4 July). These sessions are 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.
Please take the time to review the information available on our pages before attending, including the FAQs.
Students should discuss specific ethics questions with their supervisor before attending the office hour (open to both students and supervisors).
Jonathan Feldstein wins an award for founding global waste reduction startup
Informatics PhD student Jonathan Feldstein, founder of Bennu.ai, won the Growth Innovation Award at the Inspire Launch Grow Awards which celebrate the ambition, resilience and accomplishments of the University of Edinburgh entrepreneurs. The Growth Innovation Award aim to recognise organisations with high-growth potential.
Yuanchao Li awarded Community Award of Enrichment Scheme from Alan Turing Institute
Yuanchao Li, 2nd year PhD student at the at the Centre for Speech Technology Research supervised by Catherine Lai and Peter Bell recently received the Community Award of Enrichment Scheme from Alan Turing Institute
The Community Award will provide access to the Turing’s online community and resources, as well as a flexible grant to undertake research activity. The Enrichment scheme has been designed to give students undertaking a PhD the opportunity to support and enhance their current research by accessing the facilities and opportunities available at The Alan Turing Institute and its partners. Students usually join us in their second or third years of a typical doctorate to further the work they are undertaking for their research project and support the completion of the PhD.
Yuanchao is interested in implementing multimodal (especially speech and language) machine learning techniques in (but not limited to) the following areas: affective computing, healthcare, and human-computer (robot/vehicle/...) interaction.
Michio Honda receives a Google Research Scholar Award to tackle problems in software architecture for fast network and storage devices
Michio Honda's project "Upcycling packets as persistent in-memory data structures" aims to streamline the operating system design for emerging network and data storage hardware, particularly fast network devices and persistent memory.
The funding for the project comes from the 2022 Google Research Scholar Award. This award comes with $60,000 as unrestricted gifts. A competitive Google Research Scholar Program awards early-career academics who work on world-class research in the areas of interest to Google in Computer Science at institutions around the world. It also aims to develop collaborations with academics.
Kami Vaniea and Daniel Woods secure funding to look into consumer privacy insurance
In a second REPHRAIN funding call aiming to highlight research questions and challenges that are not currently being addressed by active REPHRAIN projects, the research group have announced funding for a project led by Kami Vaniea and Daniel Woods from the University of Edinburgh.
The Consumer Privacy Insurance: A Privacy Enhancing Financial Product? (PRINSUR) provides an interdisciplinary first-look at privacy insurance for consumers. By sharing what privacy harms are covered and which are excluded, which risk management services are offered by the insurer, and how the products are priced, it will allow individuals to make more informed choices when formulating a strategy for managing privacy risk.
REPHRAIN National Research Centre on Privacy, Harm Reduction and Adversarial Influence Online focuses on protecting citizens online while allowing them to securely participate in digital technologies.
Kobi Gal elected fellow of the European Association for Artificial Intelligence
Kobi Gal, reader in Artificial Intelligence and Human-Machine Intelligence at the School of Informatics, has been elected a 2022 EurAI Fellow by the European Association for Artificial Intelligence (EurAI) for his contributions promoting AI research in Europe.
I am extremely proud to be honored by EurAI and to have contributed to collaborative AI across Europe, whether between autonomous agents or human researchers!
Elham Kashefi joins CCA appointed expert panel on quantum computing
Elham Kashefi, Professor of Quantum Computing, School of Informatics, has been appointed to an expert panel on Quantum Technologies by the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA).
The emergence of quantum technologies will impact all sectors of the Canadian economy, presenting significant opportunities but also risks. This expert panel has been formed at the request of the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) to examine the impacts, opportunities, and challenges quantum technologies present for Canadian industry, governments, and Canadians.
The Panel will answer the question, "In light of current trends affecting the evolution of quantum technologies, what impacts, opportunities and challenges do these present for Canadian industry, governments and Canadians more broadly?".
Ram Ramamoorthy speaks at Scottish Parliament briefing panel on AI and Accountability
Ram Ramamoorthy and Sharon Valor from Edinburgh Futures Institute presented at a seminar on AI and Accountability.
The seminar was an informal opportunity for the Scottish Parliament to consider the implications of the increasing use of artificial intelligence in Scotland. It was held in partnership with the Parliament’s Public Audit Committee, and considered AI and its uses, both current and in development, in Scotland, as well as the ethical and governance implications for Scotland.
Ram Ramamoorthy talked about AI and its use in Scotland while Shannon Vallor covered the topic of Ethical and Governance Implications for Scotland. The presentations were followed by Q&A from participants.
Research led by Elham Kashefi leads to launch of first Rigetti UK-based quantum computer
Elham Kashefi and the Quantum Computing group achieved a real-life application of their research with the launch of a 32-qubit Aspen-series system, Rigetti’s first UK-based quantum computer, that will be available to Rigetti’s UK partners over the cloud. It was made possible thanks to their involvement in the Rigetti-led consortium to accelerate the commercialization of quantum computing in the UK that also involves Oxford Instruments Phasecraft and Standard Chartered Bank.
The collaboration with Rigetti has been invaluable to our research activities in Edinburgh for developing realistic verifiable applications. Having access to Rigetti's platform, with the full support from Rigetti software and hardware team, is the only way forward to close the gap between algorithms and machines which is the key challenge currently facing our field. I'm truly excited that the UK system will be live providing further collaborative opportunities with other R&D teams in the UK to expand the quantum advantage exploration endeavor
LGBTQ+ History, Gender History, Black History - Wikipedia editing event
Friday 1 July 2022, 13:00 – 17:30 BST
In-person at 50 George Square, Edinburgh - Bring your laptop
An afternoon of Wikipedia editing to improve the representation of Women, LGBTQ+ History, Black History & Scotland's links to slavery.
Hear about our research, including the Lothian Gay and Lesbian Switchboard, the Dunfermline College of Physical Education, and William Fergusson, first known Black student at the University of Edinburgh. Participants will then learn how to edit Wikipedia pages themselves. You will be supported over the afternoon to help create new pages, or edit existing ones in order to improve Wikipedia. No prior knowledge or experience of editing is required.
Huawei Global Software Technology Summit 2022 - European Session
5-7th July 2022, Bayes Centre
The 3-day conference focusing on the latest research and development in Operating Systems, Data Analytics, Compiler, Programming Language, Software Autonomy Trustworthy Technology & Cloud Service Technology and related topics – innovations which will build the future mission-critical systems.
The scope of the summit is based on publicly available information and the presentations are open to all participants (external experts and Huawei colleagues). The attendees will include professors and experts from our global partners and employees from Huawei Co., Ltd.
ELLIS Doctoral Symposium 2022
19 - 23 September 2022, in-person Alicante, Spain
The ELLIS Doctoral Symposium is an annual conference for ELLIS PhD students and other PhDs in the network to meet in person and share knowledge about Machine Learning. The ELLIS Doctoral Symposium 2022 (EDS22) is the second edition, and will be held in Alicante, Spain. It is expected to host 200 attendees during one week in September. The conference will take place from the 19th to the 23th of September. Apply by Friday 20 May.
The theme of this conference is AI for Good.
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.
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.
Call for Ideas - Edinburgh Science Festival 2023
This is an open call offering you the chance to be part of the 2023 Edinburgh Science Festival, which will run from Saturday 1 – Sunday 16 April 2023 under the banner Let's Experiment!
The 2023 Edinburgh Science Festival will embrace the concepts of experimentation, innovation, creativity, curiosity and invention that lie at the heart of all scientific disciplines. The call is open to anyone – individuals, groups or organisations – with bright ideas and a passion for communicating them.
The deadline for submitting an event idea to us is Sunday 11 September 2022.
For questions relating to Festival programming, please get in touch with Charlie Pike, Festival Programme Manager.
Take part in COP27
The University is planning its contribution to COP27, which will take place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from 6-18 November 2022.
Each year the University sends a diverse delegation to COPs: to present our research, partnerships and impacts; to follow proceedings and report back; and as a development opportunity for students and staff.
If you would like to be part, please register your interest by Monday 25 July 2022.
The Energy Sport and STEM Festival - 30th-31st July
The Energy Sport and STEM festival is an outdoor adventure festival, encouraging those of all ages to get involved in sports and STEM related activities, to improve overall health well-being. We are located at the North Inch, Perth, Scotland, and have been running for the past 3 years, with over 1500 attendees.
As a non-profit organisation, we are looking for local STEM providers, who could possibly get involved and help us put on some workshops/seminars/activities within our STEM tent.
We are being sponsored by Scottish and Southern Energy Network and have access to power generators.
The festival will take place on 30th and 31st July 2022 from 10am-4pm.
If you are interested in getting involved (or have any questions) please email Kirsten Sime, Energy Sport and STEM Festival Marketing and Events Co-ordinator
Maths Week Scotland
Maths Week Scotland runs from 26 September to 2 October 2022
If you're interested in participating, get in touch with Katie Oldfield, Maths Week Scotland Co-ordinator
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.
Best of InfGeneral
Inf-general has been busy this month with items to sell, give-aways, gig and train tickets changing hands and invites to board games nights and open art space events! However, this month's best of inf-general goes to Antreas Antoniou for sharing a spam email that almost got him fooled. For colleagues who are not that savvy on online security, a couple of rule of a thumb tips: make sure the sender is who they say they are (what's their actual email address) and hover your mouse over the links in the email to check if they point to where they claim they point BEFORE you click on them. There's more to online security than that and we are lucky to have experts in the field in the School!
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!
The newsletter is produced by the Informatics Communications Team.
We welcome stories from all staff and students!