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Informatics Newsletter March 2021

Issue 44 of our School newsletter for students and staff.

A Message from the Head of School

Photo of Jane Hillston sitting at a desk

Dear Colleagues,

There have been several reminders this week that it is the one year anniversary since we first entered lockdown in March 2020. Like many people, I did not imagine that one year later we would still be living with restrictions that circumscribe our activities so severely, keeping us separated from friends and family. It has been a tough year for all of us, but not a wasted one.  I have been proud of how, despite the difficulties, the School has been able to continue “business as usual”.

When the lockdown came last year we were a good way through the academic year.  In contrast, this academic year has been conducted with some level of restriction throughout. I am grateful to both staff and students for their hard work and tolerance that have made this possible. Moreover, alongside the teaching, learning and assessment, there have been research successes and major achievement in all teams across the School.

The one year anniversary is also an opportunity to reflect on what the last year has taught us. This can be for both our professional and our personal lives.  We have all been working from home and this has underlined for me the importance of good communication to maintain a sense of community and common purpose. And it is not just verbal communication. We are all tired of Teams (Zoom/Skype/etc.) meetings but the alternatives are worse. How would it feel to be without contact with our colleagues, and especially for those of us living alone, seeing a friendly face can make all the difference. Pause before you switch off your camera in your next meeting or tutorial — seeing your face could make the difference to someone else’s day! The importance of good time management and fulfilling obligations to colleagues has also been emphasised by remote working.

At a more personal level, I discovered Pilates during lockdown, and I wonder now why I had never tried it before! Hours in Teams meetings gave me a stiff neck and shoulder, and I first started Pilates to see if it could help with that (which it did). But now I begin each day with a short set of Pilates exercises and I find it useful for both my mental and physical health. In addition I have tried new recipes; I know others have tried new cocktails; I’ve read more poetry and non-fiction than in previous years; I’ve taken up knitting again. Life has not stood still during this year and it is important to remember that and reflect on the good as well as the bad that the year has brought.

But what of the year to come? Walking around Edinburgh it is clear that Spring is here. As the plants and trees come to life again with fresh vigour, so the promised easing of restrictions in the coming weeks also offers all of us the opportunity to take up aspects of our lives that have been dormant through the winter. For many of us this will involve reconnecting with friends and family. For students this means exams and plans for the summer or their future careers. For all of us, there are sure to be fresh challenges, both good and bad.

I hope that you are able to remain optimistic and face the challenges with a spring in your step.

With best wishes,

Jane

New Staff

Research Staff

Quratul-ain Mahesar started as a research associate with the Artificial Intelligence and its Applications Institute on 1st March

Artemiy Margaritov started as a research associate with the Institute for Computing Systems Architecture on 1st March

Aba-Sah Dadzie started as a research associate with the Institute for Language, Cognition and Computation on 1st March

Jelmer van der Linde started as a research associate with the Institute for Language, Cognition and Computation on 1st March

Uchenna Nnabuko started as a research associate with the Institute for Language, Cognition and Computation on 1st March

Jonas Waldendorf started as a research associate with the Institute for Language, Cognition and Computation on 1st March

Matthias Appelgren started as a research associate with the Institute of Perception, Action and Behaviour on 1st March

Yiannis Tselekounis started as a research associate with the Laboratory for Foundations of Computer Science on 1st March

Professional Services Staff

Nikolaos Dandoulakis started as Computing Officer on 1st March

Suzanne Perry started as Project Manager on 1st March

Ruairi O'Hare started as Computing Support Officer on 8th March

Blair Hunter started as Computing Support Officer on 10th March

Announcements

Audio-visual content on the School of Informatics websites

In recognition of growing pressure to include audio-visual content on the School website as of January 2021 a new policy was adopted by the School that regulates colleagues' responsibility for making the video content accessible and the inclusion what kind of content will be prioritised on the School main (external-facing) website. 

General guidance (summary)

  • Only high profile content (e.g. recordings of distinguished lectures) should be published on the School’s publicly accessible website.
  • Low priority/internal use videos (e.g. internal meetings, lab meetings) should be uploaded onto Media Hopper Create by the event organiser as unlisted and the Media Hopper link should be shared with interested parties only.
  • Medium priority videos (internal events, seminars) should be uploaded onto Media Hopper Create. Auto-generated subtitles should then be requested and a disclaimer added: Please note that the captions for this video have been auto-generated and may contain errors. Such videos can be embedded on internal-facing websites only.
  • High priority videos should have their captions reviewed and edited, at least for the most glaring errors. As there is no resource available within the School at the moment, this is the responsibility of the event organiser. Such reviewed videos can then be published on the external-facing website. 
  • To ensure Data Protection regulations are complied with, event organisers who decide to record their events should ensure:
  1. A privacy notice is provided to all attendees at the point of registration
  2. Consent for images of attendees is sought in advance of the event and stored securely
  3. The route for withdrawal of consent is clearly communicated. 
  • Recordings of public lectures and events have a retention period of 3 years on all public-facing websites.
  • All audio-visual content on the School websites is reviewed every 5 years.
  • Research groups/institutes/individual researchers are strongly encouraged to make all their video content accessible. For YouTube channels, auto-generated captions are advised if resources to caption videos are not available.

The AV content on the School websites policy in full

If you have any follow up queries, please email InfComms.

Email InfComms

Highlights

Photo of Elham Kashefi wearing a dark blue blouse with mesh panelling.
Elham Kashefi

Elham Kashefi named Margaret Intrapreneur Europe in prestigious les Margaret Awards

Professor in Quantum Computing Elham Kashefi has won a les Margaret Award, an honour that recognises women who are changing the world and is supported by French President Emmanuel Macron. Women's innovation movement JFD recently announced the winners of the les Margaret Awards 2021, which recognise and reward women's creativity, innovation and audacity in the digital sphere. Professor in Quantum Computing Elham Kashefi has been named the Margaret Intrapreneur Europe this year in response to her ground-breaking work in quantum cloud computing and quantum computing verification.

Elham Kashefi is Professor of Quantum Computing at the School of Informatics and Director of Research at Sorbonne University, France. She co-founded the fields of quantum cloud computing and quantum computing verification, and has pioneered a trans-disciplinary interaction of hybrid quantum-classical solutions from theoretical investigation all the way to actual experimental and industrial commercialisation. Elham has vast experience both in academia and in industry. She is a co-founder of VeriQloud Ltd., a start-up based in France which develops applications and software for quantum networks, and has been awarded several UK, EU and US rants and fellowships for her work developing applications for quantum computing and communication. She served as the Associate Director of the NQIT Hub before being elected to lead the software activities within the quantum computing and simulation hub.

Read more about the les Margaret awards and Elham on our website

Robbie Court and Siobhan Carroll named SRS Changemakers in Sustainability Awards

Informatics staff members Siobhan Carroll and Robbie Court, as well as Katie Nicoll Baines from Evidence Base, have won an SRS Changemakers' Award from the Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability for their exceptional work as part of the University's Staff Pride Network. The three winners were nominated by fellow Informatics staff member Jonathan MacBride for their energy, enthusiasm, inclusivity and active work to increase the visibility of underrepresented groups within the University community. Robbie, Siobhan and Katie have all invested significant time into making the Staff Pride Network an inclusive and welcoming space, engaging with staff members through high-quality outputs of Comms, socials, events and 1:1 support. Their work exemplifies the University's values and contribution to the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): good health & wellbeing, gender equality, reduced inequalities.

The SRS Changemakers’ Award recognises current students and staff who have made a noticeable positive impact by either undertaking a successful socially responsible or sustainable project or inspiring others to act in a more socially responsible or sustainable way. Individuals or groups will have undertaken this either within the University (for the benefit of fellow students and staff); within the Edinburgh and Lothians region (the local community), or somewhere else entirely (other communities worldwide). The Award will be presented to Siobhan, Robbie and Katie as part of the Sustainability Awards celebration on 1st April; registration for this event is open now.

About the Sustainability Awards (including the SRS Changemakers' Award)

Register for the Sustainability Awards celebration

Congratulations to Informatics Chancellor's Fellows Michele Ciampi and Andrea Weisse

Photos of Andrea Weiss wearing a purple coat and Michele Ciampi wearing a waistcoat and tie, side by side.
Andrea Weisse (l) and Michele Ciampi (r).

Drs. Michele Ciampi and Andrea Weisse have been awarded Chancellor's Fellowships to support their innovative research. Forty of the University’s most promising early career researchers have been awarded prestigious fellowships to develop their innovative work, including Michele and Andrea from the School of Informatics. The Fellowships are a prestigious 5-year tenure track programme designed to support early career researchers and innovators to develop their careers in a supportive, world-leading environment. The posts are partially funded through the Scottish Funding Council. 

Michele is a research associate with School of Informatics' Blockchain Technology Lab and his main area of research is provable security. During his Chancellor’s Fellowship, Michele will work on designing cryptographic protocols allowing multiple entities to jointly evaluate functions or statistics over sensitive data while preserving the secrecy of the data. Andrea's research at the intersection of computer science and biology is reflected in her joint appointment at School of Biological Sciences and School of Informatics; her work in computational biology has led to foundational models of how bacterial cells grow and respond to their environment. During the Fellowship she will bring these methods to the study of antimicrobial resistance, one of the greatest threats to global health.

Find out more on the School of Informatics website

Research Data Management

New Edinburgh Research Explorer

The new Edinburgh Research Explorer (ERE) is live. As a reminder, ERE is the public display of Pure and the new version has a much improved layout and visually attractive features. Please continue to update your Pure profile to ensure that the most up-to-date information about you and your research is displayed on the new ERE.

The relevant central team (Research Information Systems - RIS) is hosting two town hall sessions for users with personal profiles (academic and research staff):

Wednesday, 14th April, 11am – 12pm Direct link to join
Thursday, 22nd April, 2pm – 3pm Direct link to join

More information about the new ERE and guidance material for updating your profile is available via the central Pure webpages.

More information about the new Edinburgh Research Explorer

Edinburgh Research Explorer

Open Access requirements

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 rdmpublications@inf.ed.ac.uk 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.

Contact RDM Team

Facilities Update

Essential Access to Informatics spaces

As some people have returned to Informatics spaces for essential work, with more likely to do so as restrictions ease in the coming months, it is a good time to remind people of the process currently in place for accessing and egressing our buildings.

On entry, via the Pend (goods entrance East door), you will be met with a sign containing a QR code.  You need to scan this and enter the building and room number you are going to.  If you have the Informatics-entry-exit option in Powerapps you can use this as an alternative.  If you encounter any problems, you should sign in manually via the red book at reception.

On exit, via Charles Street exit (next to the visitor centre) there is also a QR code which you should scan to exit (or use Powerapps).  If you used the book at reception you should ensure you sign out before leaving.

Allowable times of entry

Day(s) of the Week Time Procedure
Monday –Friday 0630-0800 Scan/sign in and also inform Security of arrival, location and departure on 0131 650 2257
  0800-1800 Scan/sign in
  1800-2200 Scan/sign in and also inform Security of arrival, location and departure on 0131 650 2257
Saturday (Forum only) 06:30-22:00 Scan/sign in and also inform Security of arrival, location and departure on 0131 650 2257

You should not be in the building at all between 22:00 and 06:30, nor on a Sunday (For AT there is no weekend access allowed).

Please note: You MUST do one of the above to ensure your presence is properly recorded for safety and security purposes.  In the unlikely event of a fire/accident, Emergency Services need to know who they need to find if they are required to evacuate the building.  Failure to comply could result in restrictions being placed on your swipe card.

Headshot photo of Maria Luque Anguite smiling.
Maria Luque Anguita

Student news

MSc in AI student co-authors paper examining the impact of Covid-19 on global emissions

Maria Luque Anguita is a co-author on a recently-published paper that analyses the reduction of global emissions caused by restricted mobility due to Covid-19. The paper, entitled "A Novel Method for Estimating Emissions Reductions Caused by the Restriction of Mobility: The Case of the COVID-19 Pandemic", proposes an innovative new method for estimating the emissions reductions of greenhouse gases that resulted from the majority of the world experiencing some form of "lockdown". Using a global multiregional macro-economic model complemented by Google Community Mobility Reports (CMRs) and national transport data, the report covers 129 individual countries and quantifies direct and indirect global emissions reductions of selected greenhouse gases. A statistically significant correlation is observed between cross-country emission reductions and the stringency of mobility restriction policies. The results can help support crucial decision making in the post-COVID world, with quantified information about how direct and indirect consequences of mobility changes benefit the environment.

Read the full paper at ACS Publications

SIGINT Cyber Security Society win Hack the Box CFT competition

The University of Edinburgh's Cyber Security Society came in first place at Hack the Box, an online Capture the Flag (CTF) competition that invites University teams from all over the world to showcase their hacking skills and compete for a myriad of prizes. SIGINT placed first out of the eighteen teams worldwide that competed in the final, having succeeded in the qualifier round in November 2020, which featured teams from 200 different Universities. SIGINT are the University's Cyber Security Society; they often compete in CTFs at national and international level, as well as organising socials and technical workshops for their members.

Hack the Box

SIGINT Cyber Security Society

Staff news

Hands Off! Barbara Webb and colleagues report that human hands are not required to do clever things

Professor of Biorobotics Barbara Webb collaborates with University of St Andrews colleagues to find out how animals perform skilful tasks. The research was led by scientists from the School of Biology, University of St Andrews with Barbara Webb as a co-author of the paper. The study, entitled 'Object manipulation without hands', was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B and investigated how animals perform skilful tasks often associated with dexterity and human hands, which could have future implications for the development of novel robotic designs.

Having hands has enabled humans to develop pivotal innovations, and as such the standard perception is that hands are necessary for complex actions such as making and manipulating tools. Current understanding of manipulation of objects is based on primate hands, resulting in a detailed but narrow perspective of ways to handle a variety of items. Although most other animals lack hands, they are still capable of flexible manipulation of diverse objects, including food and nest materials, and depend on dexterity in object handling to survive and reproduce. As birds and insects manage skilled manipulation only using their structurally simple manipulators and fewer neurons, their bills and mandibles could inspire the development of efficient robotic mandibles in a novel way. Studying manipulation in birds and insects not only suggests novel robotic designs, but can serve as a link between the fields of animal behaviour, animal cognition, functional morphology, and biomechanics.

Read the full press release on our website

Maria Wolters co-authors BMJ paper on how using AI in healthcare could reinforce existing health inequity

Reader in Design Informatics Maria Wolters is co-author on a new paper that looks at how bias and discrimination in AI's design and deployment risk exacerbating existing health inequity. The paper was recently published in the British Medical Journal and is titled, "Does 'AI' stand for augmenting inequality in the era of covid-19 healthcare?" David Leslie of the Turing Institute is the lead author on the paper, with Anjali Mazumder, Aidan Peppin and Alexa Hagerty joining Maria as co-authors.

Among the most damaging characteristics of the covid-19 pandemic has been its disproportionate effect on disadvantaged communities. As the outbreak has spread globally, factors such as systemic racism, marginalisation, and structural inequality have created path dependencies that have led to poor health outcomes. These social determinants of infectious disease and vulnerability to disaster have converged to affect already disadvantaged communities with higher levels of economic instability, disease exposure, infection severity, and death. Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies—quantitative models that make statistical inferences from large datasets—are an important part of the health informatics toolkit used to fight contagious disease. AI is well known, however, to be susceptible to algorithmic biases that can entrench and augment existing inequality. Uncritically deploying AI in the fight against covid-19 thus risks amplifying the pandemic’s adverse effects on vulnerable groups, exacerbating health inequity.

Read the full paper at the BMJ website

Vaishak Belle and Chris Williams speak at the Turing Institute's AI UK showcase

Chris Williams and Vaishak Belle were featured speakers at the Alan Turing Institute's event AI UK, a showcase of the very best of UK academic work in AI and machine learning. Chris gave a spotlight talk entitled, ' Why practical data analytics is so painful - and how we can help' while Vaishak was part of a panel discussing machine learning for finance, from the algorithms responsible for credit decision making to the intuitive technology protecting us from fraud.

On 23-24th March The Turing hosted its unique two-day online event, AI UK, to showcase the very best of UK academic work in artificial intelligence (AI); bringing together leading thinkers, innovative businesses and specialist third sector bodies. The event aimed to connect UK academics working in AI and machine learning with research users from industry, commerce, and government to discuss, learn and meet, thereby facilitating new UK AI collaborations. The event also showcased state-of-the-art AI and ML in the UK and offered increased awareness and ways to engage in the Turing as the national institute for data science and AI.

See the full AI UK programme on the Turing Institute website

Ross Anderson delivers Distinguished Lecture at MIT

Chair in Security Engineering and new addition to the School of Informatics, Ross Anderson gave the Dertouzos Distinguished Lecture for MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) earlier this month. In his talk Ross explored the complex relationship between information security and economics, highlighting the role of institutions in protecting against cybercrime. Computer technology, like the railroad, gives us infrastructure that empowers innovators. The Internet and cloud computing let startups like YouTube and Instagram soar to huge valuations almost overnight, with only a handful of staff. But 21st century tech differs from the 19th century variety in that criminals also build infrastructure, from botnets through malware-as-a-service. There's also dual-use infrastructure, from Tor to bitcoins, with entangled legitimate and criminal applications. So crime can scale too. And even "respectable" infrastructure has disruptive uses. Social media enabled both Barack Obama and Donald Trump to outflank the political establishment and win power; they have also been used to foment communal violence in Asia. How are we to make sense of all this? Is it simply a matter for antitrust lawyers and cybercrime fighters, or do computer scientists have some insights to offer?

Watch a recording of Ross's talk on the CSAIL website

Mirella Lapata and collaborators receive Amazon funding for project on Digital Assistants

Mirella Lapata and collaborators Emilio Monti and Craig Saunders have been awarded £75K by Amazon for their project Semantic Parsing Datasets for Digital Assistants. The objective of this project is to develop datasets that will enable the development of digital assistants (like Amazon's Alexa) across domains, languages, and question answering settings. Researchers aim to address some of the real-world challenges in semantic parsing which go beyond the carefully curated, and small scale datasets used in the academic community. Some of these challenges involve disfluencies, multi-turn question answering, multiple languages, and unknown entities or predicates. To attract the attention of the academic community the team will also organize various leaderboard competitions based on these datasets, and workshops.

ICSA researchers win Best Paper award at IEEE International Symposium on High-Performance Computer Architecture

ICSA researchers Kuba Kaszyk, Chris Vasiladiotis, Lu Li, Jiawen Sun, Magnus Morton and Mike O’Boyle are members of the inter-continental team which won the Best Paper award at the IEEE International Symposium on High-Performance Computer Architecture (HCPA) 2021 for their work on "Prodigy: Improving the Memory Latency of Data-Indirect Irregular Workloads Using Hardware-Software Co-Design". HPCA is a highly respected top-tier conference in Computer Architecture that provides a high-quality forum for engineers to present their latest research findings in the rapidly-changing field.

HCPA 2021

Events

DataFest 2021 launches 25th March

DataFest21 will run from March to November 2021, with a launch event kicking of the programme on 25th March. There will be three themed weeks of DataFest activities throughout the year, and the festival will culminate with Data Summit. The theme for 2021 is #OurData, which will be explored from the perspectives of Our Future, Our People and Our Planet to spark discussion about how we, as data users and as a community, can use data for good to help solve or ease the world’s problems. The mission of DataFest21 is to showcase Scotland’s innovative spirit and support the organisations leading the way. #OurData can contribute towards the greater good and the programme aims to encourage collaboration, not only as a country, but as a global community impacted by the pandemic.

DataFest 2021

Sustainability Awards celebration 1st April

The University's annual Sustainability Awards celebration is on Thursday 1st April, 15:00 - 16:15 and everyone, students and staff, is invited. The celebration recognises students and staff who have worked to make the University more socially responsible and sustainable in 2020-21, such as by reducing waste and carbon emissions, teaching their students, peers and colleagues about sustainability, or supporting the local community during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Register for the Sustainability Awards celebration

GATHERS-HACK online hackathon for PhD and MSc students 10-11th April

Developers, students (PhD and MSc) and anyone interested in real-time velocity measurement and applications are invited to take part in an online hackathon on 10 and 11 April. The event is hosted by the Sapienza University of Rome within the H2020 GATHERS project. The challenge will be focused on the applications of real-time velocity measurements usually used for GNSS seismology. During the event we use our smartphones to collect velocity data and go further out of the geo-scientific range and search for alternative utilization beneficial in other social branches.

Two challenges will be open:

  • Design & Implement: This challenge is devoted to designing and developing new apps & services based on the GNSS Seismology approach using high rate (1Hz & more) GNSS data to estimate ground velocities & displacements. A freely available real-time service providing a GNSS Seismology solution (velocity - VADASE approach) from data collected by an Android (v. 7+) smartphone will be used.

  • Create & Explain: This challenge will search for new ground-breaking applications, even in fields very far from Seismology, and prepare a mock-up. Keyword: Real-time, Precise velocity, Smartphones, Crowdsourcing, Fitness, Pedestrians, Vehicles, Big data, Vibrations, Early warning, Natural hazards.

There are no participation fees, but registration is required. The participants in the GATHERS hackathon will get a certificate of 1 ECTS.

The best outcomes of the competition will be presented and discussed in a Workshop which will be held on the following day - Monday 12th April. It will be open to the public and accessible via a zoom link which will be posted on the Gathers website.

Gathers.eu

GATHERS-HACK registration link

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, 9th April

This Twitter-based science engagement show returns on 9th Apr with a focus on scientists and science communicators who self-identify as disabled. Between 9am and 9pm posts will be made from contributors across the globe: you could be an experienced science communicator, or this could be your first attempt, everything is considered. Contributors will be allocated a 10-minute timeslot, but you do not need to supply 10 minutes of content! Videos, tweet threads, images, and more, are warmly welcomed.

There will be an option to be anonymous if you wish. Training and support will also be provided.

Find out more and register your interest in being involved on 9th April via Eventbrite

Themes of future shows - announcement video on the Global Science Show twitter account

Calls for evidence / inputs - policymaker engagement

Amongst the live calls/inquiries that the policymakers across the UK have announced in the past week, the following may be of interest to colleagues in the CSE:

  1. Scottish Government, Discussion paper: Environmental Protection (single-use plastic) Regulations, deadline: 13th April
  2. UK Parliament, Call for Evidence: Renewable energy in Scotland, deadline: 14th May
  3. UK Government, Consultation: Persistent organic pollutants, deadline: 14th May
  4. UK Government, Consultation: Waste prevention programme for England, deadline: 10th June
  5. Scottish Government, Consultation: UK Dolphin and Porpoise Conservation Strategy, deadline: 14th June

If you would like to see the complete list of active policymaker calls from across the UK, then the simplest way is to sign up to news from SPRE's The Brokerage.

 Sign up to news from SPRE's The Brokerage

Workshop - PEP Insights Research Findings, PEPTogether, 15th April

The data collection phase of the Public Engagement Professional research project is now complete and is in the process of being analysed. Various routes to disseminating the findings are being developed, with one of the earliest being the PEPTogether event on 15th Apr (11am-12.30pm) where reflections on the initial findings will be invited.

Public Engagement Professionals research project

For further details and to register, go to the NCCPE event page

Funding/Call for researchers and public engagement professionals - The Ideas Fund, introductory sessions for researchers / register interest

As previously highlighted, the Ideas Fund is a grants programme run by the British Science Association and funded by Wellcome, which enables the UK public to develop and try out ideas that address problems related to mental wellbeing. Grants of up to £90k are on offer to communities in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, Hull, North West Northern Ireland, and Oldham.

For researchers who have not joined information sessions previously, Lewis Hou (the fund's Development Coordinator for Highlands and Islands) has compiled a new Ideas Fund for Researchers page that shares key background information through summary sheets and webinar recordings. (This fund is different to other funding routes in that the priority is on communities leading the development of ideas related to mental wellbeing in partnership with researchers.) On the researcher webpage, there are also details of upcoming online sessions aimed at researchers.

Ideas Fund for Researchers

Additionally, there are community-aimed sessions over the next couple of weeks where researchers are welcome to listen in to the conversations. The details are available on Eventbrite, but if you wish to listen in on any of these, please email Lewis (Lewis@scienceceilidh.com) rather than registering through the Eventbrite page. There is a need to balance the numbers of community representatives and researchers who are present.

Email Lewis

If you are a researcher or public engagement professional who wishes to formally register your interest and be added to a 'matching' database, you can do so through the Expression of Interest form.

Expression of Interest form

For information - science and society, a genetics research viewpoint

A recent commentary article in nature Genetics states that "Genes do not operate in a vacuum, and neither should our research." In so doing, the authors argue that social influences - particularly from the perspective of race - interweave with research practice and therefore genetics/genomics researchers ought to remain aware of the social impact of their work in order to conduct it responsibly: i.e. how can a social-awareness mindset be promoted within research communities? How can those from marginalised groups be involved as researchers and as communities who influence research and use research outputs? Suggested examples for improvement are offered in the article, such as different research-recruitment materials that are more appropriate for different communities.

The fundamental argument within this brief commentary is also worth consideration within other science/engineering disciplines - not just genetics.

Commentary article in Nature Genetics

For information - Manifesto for a Slow and Engaged Research Culture

At the end of 2020, a group of public engagement professionals were seeking feedback on the draft Research Revolution Manifesto. The Manifesto for a Slow and Engaged Research Culture is now avalaible online and advocates for engagement (in its broadest sense: public, business, community, policy, patient and public involvement, etc.) to be an intrinsic part of the research culture. The key goal is a research culture that values people and quality over quantity and speed. Particularly if you are attending Wellcome's Reimagine Research Culture Festival this week, this paper could be a useful read.

The Manifesto for a Slow and Engaged Research Culture

Contact the people behind the manifesto via Twitter

Contact the people behind the manifesto via email

Reminder: Call for science activities - Craigmillar Gala, 14th-15th Aug

The brand-new Craigmillar Gala is currently being planned for the 14th-15th August and the community-based organisers are keen to include some science-related activities within their diverse programme. They are aiming for a selection of outdoor events/activities, and perhaps small indoor ones, across the community in multiple locations (which are already on board). Most events/activities are likely to be ticketed to control numbers and track and trace, but there may be some public performances and/or pop-up stalls in public places depending on societal restrictions at the time.

If you would potentially like to offer something, please email Stuart Dunbar with the following details:

  1. Name of activity,
  2. brief summary of activity (including target audience),
  3. any requirements (e.g. table, space, electricity access).

 Email Stuart Dunbar

Reminder: Call for inputs - A Scientist Just Like Me

The Primary Science Teaching Trust is developing a new resource aimed at primary school children called A Scientist Just Like Me. The aim is to encourage learners to find out more about the work of real scientists and help to broaden their understanding of what a scientist does.

The aim will be achieved through a series of short slideshows to introduce children to a diverse range of current scientists. They are including people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, and from many different fields of science. They envisage that the slideshows will be used by teachers in different ways – perhaps as stand-alone fifteen-minute discussion activities or included in a unit of work that relates to the work of the scientist.

Examples of short slideshows

If you would like to be part of this project, please download and complete the details within the Word document below and return it by email (together with any images as separate files) to Kulvinder Johal (kulvinder.johal@pstt.org.uk). Kulvinder will create the slideshow and send it to you for your sign off before it is published.

Registration of interest Word document

Email Kulvinder Johal

Reminder: Call for inputs - International Asexuality Day profiles, deadline: 26th March

Sarah Cosgriff - a freelance science communicator and trainer - is planning to highlight people who identify as asexual and are working/studying STEM subjects on International Asexuality Day on 6th Apr. Profiles will also include those who are questioning and/or not out. Profiles will be shared through Twitter during the course of 6th Apr and only those who follow Sarah already will be able to reply, in order to offer some protection against negative comments.

36 profiles have been submitted so far. If you would like to be included, then you can submit your information through the Google Forms questionnaire Profiles can be anonymous. For further information you can DM Sarah on Twitter or contact her via email.

Google Forms questionnaire

Sarah Cosgriff on Twitter

Email Sarah Cosgriff

Reminder: Call for participants - 3 Minute Thesis, IAD, deadline: 31st March

This competition requires doctoral researchers to compete to deliver the best research presentation in just 3 minutes (and one slide), and in so doing gain important presentation skills. This year, instead of live delivery, the competition will involve submission of recorded entries in March. School-level heats will not run for 2021, instead entrants will go directly to the College Finals. The deadline for video submission is 31st March.

Preparation training dates have now been released

Videos from the 2020 finalists can be viewed online

Further details including competition stages and how to enter

Reminder: Call for committee members - the Scottish Public Engagement Network, deadline: 26th March

The Scottish Public Engagement network (ScotPEN) is seeking three new committee members to join the group on a voluntary basis until the next Gathering in the summer. Positions are open to individuals working or delivering engagement activity in Scotland - within any discipline and within or outwith Higher Education Institutions.

  1. [Non-academic] Committee General Member. Available immediately.  The committee meets quarterly and gives strategic oversight to all activities including the working groups: ScotPEN Wellcome Engagement Award, ScotPEN Futures, Culture change, Social Media, and ScotPEN Journal Club. General members bring a diversity of perspectives to these initiatives and contribute sector awareness to the committee through a passion for advocating for, and driving forward, engaged practice in Scotland and beyond.
  2. Social Media Working Group Chair. Available immediately. Leading on all aspects of social media, the chair is responsible for overseeing the content created for the ScotPEN Twitter page & Facebook page. Going forward they will be responsible for creating a comms plan that will outline how ScotPEN will use social media, how members can request content be shared and how ScotPEN will proactively stay on top of current social media trends.
  3. Journal club – Working Group Member. From April. Responsibilities include selecting and publicising journal articles for the group, leading discussions and fielding suggestions from ScotPEN members. Attending regular working group meetings (through whatever means agreed by the group) and reporting to committee meetings when necessary.

If you are interested in any of the roles please email ScotPEN before 5pm on the 26th Mar with the role in the subject line and including 200 words or less indicating why you are interested and what you would like to bring to the role. Enquiries can be made to the same email address.

Scottish Public Engagement Network (ScotPEN)

Email ScotPEN Wellcome Engagement Award

Reminder: Training - An Introduction to Science Communication, 6th April

Suitable for those interested in science communication, this introductory session will be held through Zoom on 6th Apr. Delivered by Sam Langford, the focus will be on the motivations of science communication, the different formats, defining audiences, tailoring activities to different audiences, and highlighting opportunities. Sam can be contacted after the training for further advice. The cost is £15.

Further details and registration on Eventbrite

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 Bulletin

Due to popular demand, we bring you a completely new and refreshed version of our Lockdown Bulletin - Informatics Social Bulletin. We have moved all the content that you found useful to our blog, so head there to find out more.

Since the Scottish Government announced a route out of the current restrictions, we have compiled a round-up of their updates for you.

Scottish Government round-up

And thanks to David Sterratt for drawing our attention to Edinburgh walking apps developed by the University - we also found a handful more.  Walks are always allowed and with the weather improving and longer days we hope you will be able to make use of the apps.

Edinburgh walking apps

InfComms blog

Best of InfGeneral

This month's Best of Inf-general award goes to Nigel Topham and his invaluable advice for colleagues who are waiting for their Covid-19 vaccination invite letter. If you haven't received it but should (if you're in the 50+ age group, it's your turn!), try phoning the NHS Scotland Covid-19 helpline on 0800 030 8013 to enquire whether you have an appointment. And as Jane reminded us all: we are entitled to paid time-off to keep vaccine appointments (you should discuss it with your line manager first). In case of any adverse side effects take sick leave (and report it in the usual way).

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.

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