Informatics Newsletter March 2018

Issue 13 of our School newsletter for students and staff.

New Staff


Ursula Martin - Visiting Professor (started 1 January)

Vassilis Zikas - Senior Lecturer in Security and Privacy (started 3 January)

Markulf Kohlweiss - Senior Lecturer in Security and Privacy (started 8 January)

Tiejun Ma - Reader in Business Applications of Informatics (started 1 February)

Robin Hill - Senior Laboratory Manager (started 1 March)

Kobi Gal - Reader in AI & Human Machine Collaboration (start 30 March)

Ian Simpson - Lecturer in Biological Informatics (start 30 March)

Laura Seville Lara - Image and Vision Computing (start 1 September)

Support Staff

Lorna Adams - Senior Secretary (PA to Head of School) (started 1 November)

Victoria Lindstrom - Research Data Officer (started 5 January)

April Cunliffe - IGS-Recruitment Administrator (started 5 January)

Magdalena Mazurczak - Finance Administrator (IV) (started 8 January)

Jane Kennedy - Marketing & Comms Manager (IV) (started 8 January)

Cristian Novotny - Business Development Executive (started 22 January)

Jasmina Lazic - Chief Data Technologist (Bayes) (started 1 February)

Katey Lee - Student Support Officer (started 1 February)

Karen Davidson - Student Support Officer (started 5 February)

Alex Burford - Learning Technologist (started 5 February)

Simon Marr - Business Development Manager (Bayes) (started 12 February)

Sam Stewart - Teaching Organisation Administrator (PGT) started 1 March)

Angela Sturniolo - Secretary (School Office) (started 15 March)

Colette McColl - Senior Administrative Secretary (BTL) (started 19 March)

Carol Marini - Facilities Supervisor (start 1 April)

Sohan Seth - Senior Data Scientist (start 2 April)

Lisa Branney - Teaching Organisation Administrator (Y3) (start 2 April)

Belinda Hough - Institute Admin Secretary (Level 4) (12 April)

Ashley Harper, ECR Administrator (start 16 April)

Ekaterina Churkina, CDT Administrator PPar (start 23 April)

General Meeting updates

PGR admissions

Two new PhD scholarships were introduced this year. Applications are up 17%, compared to the same point last year with improved gender balance: 25% increase in PhD applications from women and 14% increase in PhD applications from men. There was a shift in geographical location of applicants: 9% reduction in applications from EU/EEA, 8% increase in overseas (non-EU/EEA) applications and 1.4% increase in UK applications

UGT and PGT admissions

The application numbers are on the rise for a third year running.

The Director of Teaching is reviewing the allocation of duties.

Industrial action had an impact on exams: university guideline says that where scheduled teaching time is cancelled, assessment shouldn’t address topics covered by the missed teaching

Research News

Ian Simpson has taken on the role of Deputy Director of Research, Chris Williams will take over the role of Director of Research from 1st August 2018.

Save the Date: 24th April for Research Day

Mock REF will take place April 2018-June 2018

Buildings updates

Bayes: Occupants should be moving in by the end of August, but the move might be phased

IF: All academic staff will move in to (smaller) ‘type c’ offices by 2019/20 and the remaining ‘3for2’ conversions (east corridor L1 and L5) will take place

AT: Existing 5 ‘flip desk’ tutorial rooms will be converted into updated desktop PC’s, level 9 study suite is all complete

Informatics Jamboree

Book your tickets for the Informatics Jamboree 2018 (all staff event)!

PS: We are releasing more tickets for the 'Meet the Alpacas' activity.

Book now

Informatics Historical Research Trivia

'Did You Know?' Series #1

Brief History of Informatics

Pioneers of Informatics

If you’re interested in contributing to future articles about the history of the School, please contact Infcomms.

Contact Infcomms

Research successes

  • Paul Patras has a new paper on FitBit trackers out in Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies. Researchers have found new vulnerabilities in wearable devices that allow users to tamper with both the app and firmware to selfishly manipulate records or circumvent Fitbit’s walled garden business model. In the paper Patras et al make design recommendations to mitigate those. They are also broadly applicable to securing future wearable system architectures.

'Anatomy of a Vulnerable Fitness Tracking System: Dissecting the Fitbit Cloud, App, and Firmware'


  • Benjamin Bach, Cat Magill, Ewan Klein along with Dave Murray-Rust from Design Informatics ran DataVisFest, a visualization maker and hackathon aimed in addressing challenges that were provided by institutions such as the Scottish Government, NHR, Marie Curie and others. It ran on 16th-18th March as a fringe event to the DataFest Edinburgh, posing the question of how to make data about inequality and inclusion understandable and more engaging through data visualizations.

DataVisFest on Visualizing (In)equality and Inclusion


  • Two ICSA Papers will be presented at premier Systems conference EuroSys 2018. The EuroSys series brings together professionals from academia and industry. It has a strong focus on systems research and development: operating systems, database systems, real-time systems, network middleware, distributed, parallel, or embedded computing systems. The papers which will appear at the conference are:

- PESOS: Policy Enhanced Secure Object Store - Robert Krahn, Bohdan Trach (TU Dresden), Anjo Vahldiek-Oberwagner (MPI-SWS, Saarland Informatics Campus), Thomas Knauth (Intel Corporation), Pramod Bhatotia (University of Edinburgh), and Christof Fetzer (TU Dresden)

- Scale-Out ccNUMA: Exploiting Skew with Strongly Consistent Caching |- Vasilis Gavrielatos, Antonios Katsarakis, Arpit Joshi, Nicolai Oswald, Boris Grot, and Vijay Nagarajan (The University of Edinburgh) 


  • Kwabena Nuamah, Christopher Lucas and Alan Bundy had a paper (Calculating Error Bars on Inferences from Web Data) accepted to IntelliSys 2018. IntelliSys (Intelligent Systems Conference) provides a leading international forum that brings together researchers and practitioners from diverse fields with the purpose of exploring the fundamental roles, interactions as well as practical impacts of Artificial Intelligence (AI). It is part of the conference series started in 2013. It will take place 6th to 7th September in London.

News from around the School

  • The School Plan is now available.

School Strategy and Plan 2018/19 to 2020/21

  • The School Visual Guidelines are also available.

School of Informatics visual identity


You can also sign up to attend a staff information events.

City Region Deal Data-Driven Innovation Programme launch

Student news

NSS Feedback Target per School 2018
  • We have met the NSS threshold! That means our results will be published in the summer.


  • Informatics students take UK cyber security prize – again!

Students take UK cyber security prize


  • CreatED - Student hardware hackathon is going to take place on 7th-8th April. It’s the UK’s first student-run hardware hackathon. A hackathon is a 24 hour event where coders, makers and technical people of all kinds come together and build something innovative. The twist with CreatED is that instead of focusing on just software that runs on computers, we are including hardware, which means lots of embedded devices, IoT applications and robotics.

Book your tickets

Informatics students gearing up for the first student-run hardware hackathon


  • Raitis Krikis fetched the first prize in the annual ProgClub Competition. Uday Patel and Mateusz Parafinski were awarded 2nd and 3rd prize respectively. The Programming Club for the undergraduate students is regularly organised by Hugh Leather and Volker Seeker. The intention of the club is to give students more programming experience beyond what the regular curriculum can offer and work on some fun programming projects.

Informatics ProgClub Competition

In other news

  • Obituary: Jim Howe, who was the Head of the Department of Artificial Intelligence for 20+ years until the School of Informatics was formed. Passed away on 1st March.

About Jim Howe



  • The Support for Physical Activity (SPA) is a programme for staff and students at The University of Edinburgh who want to be a bit more active, a bit more often. One-to-one appointments are designed to help you achieve your goals.  The SPA Programme Officer will meet with you for 30 minutes to find out your interests, likes and dislikes and help you to set your own goals for physical activity. After this first meeting you will receive four further appointments of up to 20 minutes where you will be able to share any challenges you had, discuss what worked, what didn’t and keep moving towards reaching your goals.

Contact Sport and Exercise

Yuanhua Huang


  • Guido Sanguinetti’s  former student Yuanhua Huang has recently been awarded the "Chinese government award for outstanding self finance students abroad” for his PhD work here in Informatics. There are 500 awarded each year across the world, and each worth $6000.  There will be an award ceremony at 11am on the 19th April in London in the Embassy of China.

It is an honor to receive this award from my home country for acknowledging my PhD work in Edinburgh, and I really want to thank my supervisor for his great support during my time at the School of Informatics ”

Yuanhua Huang

About the award

Outreach and Public Engagement

  • Edinburgh International Science Festival runs from 31 March - 15 April. You can browse the programme now.

2018 Festival brochure


  • The Midlothian Science Festival is currently recruiting people to join their Creative Team. This is a volunteer role involving excellent and first-hand experience in event development and management alongside supporting various other aspects of “behind the scenes” work involved in managing a science festival. This is a great opportunity to expand your experience, creativity and skill set, whilst supporting a Science Festival aiming to engage with those people whom don’t traditionally seek out or attend science-based events. No experience required, just an enthusiasm for sharing science with others and a hard-working and friendly attitude. The dates for the 2018 festival are Sat 6 – Sat 20 October 2018. Monthly meetings will start in April/May.

Visit the website to find out more and to download (the very short) application form.

Join the Midlothian Science Festival's Creative Team 

The deadline for applications in 5pm, on Wednesday 11 April. Any questions, then contact Claire Jellema.

Contact Claire


  • EIE 2018 – Engage Invest Exploit is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. The very first conference took place in the Appleton Tower and over the years has grown to become the biggest tech investor conference of its type outside of London. This year’s edition takes place on 19th April and will be attended by 800+ delegates – a mix of international investors, innovative young businesses and a distinguished business audience. Daytime keynotes include tech entrepreneur and philanthropist Dame Stephanie ‘Steve’ Shirley and Eileen Burbridge, one of the UK’s most influential VC’s, founding partner of Passion Capital & Chair of TechCity.

More information and tickets

  • Research Day – this year’s Research Day will take place on 24th April. Morning talks include a session on data Driven Innovation with presentations about City Deal and the Bayes centre, a talk about the Edinburgh Futures Institute and Living Lab. There will be a 3 minute thesis and 3 minute research talks. In the afternoon the breakout sessions will cover: REF, XDF/IGMM ideas sandpit, strategic areas for future School appointments among others.

Guess who?

Currenty training for the EMF Half Marathon (13.1miles/21km) which this year will start on the University's central campus.

Run Forest, RUN...!

About the EMF Half Marathon


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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