Informatics Newsletter March 2022
Issue 55 of our School newsletter for students and staff.
A Message from the Head of School
Being based in the Central Area the links between the School of Informatics and the College of Science and Engineering can sometimes feel tenuous. I certainly felt somewhat like that until I started regularly attending College committees and realising how much we have in common with our colleagues in other Schools. If you have not been to the Kings Buildings campus for a while you might be aware of a major building project, “The Nucleus”, which will provide substantial new teaching facilities for the College. Last week Björn and I went on a tour of the Nucleus and it does look as if it will be a very impressive building that will establish an excellent learning environment when it opens towards the end of this year. With this additional capacity at Kings Buildings most first year teaching in the College will be at Kings Building from the academic year 2023/24.
Touring the Nucleus building site with colleagues from Chemistry and Physics is an example of the opening up for more in-person interactions. Whilst many of us welcome the relaxation of restrictions, it is important that we remain conscious that there are people who are nervous about the possible impact on them and their family. Although many of the enforced physical restrictions in the buildings will be disappearing in the coming weeks, I would ask everyone to be sensitive to the needs of others. For example, this might mean giving them more distance than you would require yourself.
As the spring progresses, we are conscious of the progression of the academic year. At this time of year the focus is assessment and evaluation of various forms. I know that students are busy completing the final assignments, writing up dissertations and starting to think about exams. The academic staff are heavily involved in these activities, supporting students to achieve their best as well as marking the submitted work. For me, and others in leadership positions we are involved in recruiting, promotions and contribution rewards. Through recruitments panels (for Edinburgh and other institutions) and promotion panels I counted up that I have read about 500 CVs since January! On the positive side all this work, for staff and students, is about enabling people to take the next step in their career and fulfil their ambitions.
Good luck to everyone for the important work in the weeks to come!
With best wishes,
Luna De Ferrari started as a Senior AI Researcher with AIAI on 1 March 2022.
Lorena Aldana started as a Research Associate with ILCC on 1 March 2022.
Anirban Chakraborty started as a Research Associate with ANC on 7 March 2022.
Christina Ovezik started as a Research Engineer with LFCS on 18 March 2022.
Professional Services Staff
Eddie Wilkinson started as Operations Manager on 7 March 2022.
Euan Morse started as Institute Administrator on 14 March 2022.
Helping communities affected by the invasion of Ukraine
A SharePoint site has been created by the Community Engagement Forum to provide University of Edinburgh staff and students with advice on how they can support communities, both locally and further afield, who are affected by the invasion of Ukraine. Find out more by visiting the link below:
This page is part of an updated University statement for staff and students about Ukraine:
The New Real Observatory
The Alan Turing Institute and University of Edinburgh launch a new project, The New Real Observatory, during a special session of AIUK.
The New Real Observatory is an initiative to develop a national capability for advanced research on AI in the arts and creative industries. The vision is to bridge the gap between global datasets and models about the climate, and local, everyday perspectives.
International Women's Day - Celebrating women in Informatics
Women might still be underrepresented in the Computer Science departments across the country, but the School of Informatics is doing pretty well: we have 26% of female students which is above the national average. International Women's Day was on Tuesday, 8 March and we marked the occasion by celebrating the achievements of some of the women working and studying at the School of Informatics.
Barbara Webb elected to the Royal Society of Edinburgh
The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE), Scotland’s National Academy has announced its 2022 intake of Fellows. They will be joining the RSE’s current Fellowship of around 1,700 Fellows, who are recognised as being some of the greatest thinkers, researchers and practitioners working in or with Scotland on 22nd March.
Webb is interested in understanding how perceptual systems control of behaviour, which she studies by building computational and robotic models. To understand this she studies the behaviour of insects, whose smaller nervous systems are simpler than humans. She believes the behaviours, sensors and small brains of insects should be inspiration for efficient processing algorithms for sensorimotor control. She uses insect inspired robotics as an approach to control system design.
Research Data Management
New UKRI Open Access Policy
From 1 April 2022 UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), which consists of the nine research funding councils AHRC, BBSRC, ESRC, EPSRC, MRC, NERC, STFC, Innovate UK and Research England, will implement a new open access policy. The main take from the policy is that from 1 April 2022 all research articles submitted for publication, including journal articles, reviews and conference papers, that have arisen from research funded by UKRI will be required to be published open access using a Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC-BY).
To ensure compliance with this policy researchers can either opt to publish at a venue that will make the final published version, known as the Version of Record (VOR), open access using a CC-BY licence or by depositing the Author’s Accepted Manuscript (AAM) in an institutional or subject repository and making it immediately open access (i.e., with no embargo) with a CC-BY licence upon publication.
From 1 January 2024 this policy will also encompass long-form publications including monographs, book chapters and edited collections.
New University Research Publications and Copyright Policy
To help the researchers and the University comply with UKRI, and other funders’, requirements, and to enable the University to disseminate its research and scholarship as widely as possible the University of Edinburgh has implemented a new Research Publications and Copyright Policy.
This policy confirms the current practice that members of staff own the copyright to their scholarly works but grants the University of Edinburgh a non-exclusive licence to make manuscripts of staff members’ scholarly articles publicly available under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) licence.
Help with Open Access and OA Policy Compliance
The central Scholarly Communications Team have put together a useful checklist that researchers can use to help them make their research outputs open access.
If there are any concerns about these new policies, please contact Sam or Andrew in the RDM team and they will respond to your query.
As always, please continue to send details of recently accepted papers.
Ethics office hours
The Informatics ethics committee will continue to hold an office hour every first Monday of the month, 4pm-5pm (4 April, 2 May, 6 June). 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).
Maria Luque Anguita makes Nova Talent 111 students list for 2022
Nova Talent have announced their annual list containing the top 111 students aged 18-25 for different sectors. Masters student in Artificial Intelligence, Maria Luque Aquita, has made the list under the Computer Science sector.
Nova is the by-invitation-only network where the top 3% of talent connect with each other, develop and accelerate their careers.
Maria is studies at the School of Informatics part-time while working full-time at Dell Technologies - SecureWorks as a Machine Learning Engineer. She’s focused my on developing AI models for a common good, such as healthcare, environmental research, and cyber security, as well as explainable, trustworthy AI, to encourage people to have more faith in it and realise the potential it has rather than be scared of it.
Snigdha Ramkumar publishes her debut sci-fi novel
“A Science Fantasy mixed with reality that makes you question the world around you.”
Snigdha Ramkumar, MSc Cognitive Science student at the School of Informatics, has written and published a soft sci-fi novel ‘Prey of the Chance’.
‘Prey of the Chance’ was nominated by Amazon for their Prime Reading list and later selected for the Kindle Deals programme.
Niklas Burggraaff - Red Bull Racing & Red Bull Technology placement
Computer Science student, Niklas Burggraaff, is on an exciting student placement at Red Bull Technology. Here he is part of the Aerodynamics systems development group, developing code for the wind tunnel, allowing him to be a part of Max Verstappen's first world championship. Niklas has directly contributed to this by helping the Strategy department in the Ops room for as many races as he could.
Niklas' grandfather taught him how to program when he was 10 years old. Since then he has continued to enjoy learning more about programming. Whilst studying Computer Science at the School of Informatics, Niklas joined the AI team of Edinburgh University Formula Student where he has continued to developed his technical skills, alongside developing other valuable skills by working collaboratively with other students on such a project.
With half a year remaining on his placement with Red Bull Technology, Niklas is excited to return to the School of Informatics and Edinburgh University Formula Student (EUFS).
Researchers answer a question inspired by a century old problem in quantum mechanics
Chris Heunen and Andre Kornell (Department of Computer Science, Tulane University) made a breakthrough in the foundations of quantum informatics by proposing a solution to a problem open for nearly a century: what is mathematically special about Hilbert spaces and their operators? Their result is remarkable because it characterises an analytic theory in a purely algebraic way, linking two fields that typically resist each other.
Celebrating birthdays online may pose a security risk, Informatics researchers discover
Wishing someone happy birthday online may pose a security risk according to a study by Dilara Keküllüoğlu, Walid Magdy and Kami Vaniea.
The results of the study will be presented at the 16th International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media in June 2022, the pre-print of their paper is available now. The paper was featured by the New Scientist in a recent story.
Informatics contribution makes the X Prize finals
Dr Vladimir Ivan and Professor Sethu Vijayakumar from the Statistical Learning and Motor Control Group, as part of the AvatarX team led by Touchlab, have been selected to advance to the finals of X Prize, due to be held later this year.
The Avatar XPrize aims to create an avatar system that can transport human presence to a remote location in real time. Using their avatar Nexi, it is the teams objective to enable remote operation in a hospital medical setting assisting healthcare professionals to interact with patients remotely, complete prescriptions, facilitate diagnosis and perform further crucial tasks that would otherwise require a physical presence.
Meet their avatar Nexi: https://youtu.be/fa-zL-ibN0I
You might remember we presented their contribution in this article from the previous selection stage, read more about this visiting the link below.
Digital Strategy Face to Face Information and Engagement Session
Tuesday 29 March 2022
40 George Square Lecture Theatre A
Protect and commercialise IP - Bitesize Intellectual Property Seminar
Wednesday 30 March 2022
This event will be of interest to all University academics and students interested in learning about patents, how to protect these key IP assets, and how to create impact. With Prof Mike Davies, School of Engineering, and Dr Tim Hargreaves, Marks & Clerk.
5th Informatics Circle
Saturday 2 April 2022
The 5th Informatics Circle will feature fun games introducing informatics topics like predicting the next word and code breaking.
Do your kids want to become computer wizards? Have they ever wanted to know more about how computers store information, or solve complex problems like code breaking?
We would love to invite them to the University of Edinburgh Informatics Circle on Saturday 2nd April. This is the fifth time we have run this event, inspired by the popular Edinburgh Maths Circle. We received a lot of positive feedback for the earlier events, and we hope we have further improved our event based on that feedback.
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.
Copross Summer School 2022
Applications are now open for an intensive short course on co-production for research and social change hosted by the University of Highlands and Islands. In 2022 the course will run from 5th - 8th July.
The course, aimed at those with little or no prior experience of co-production such as students, post-docs/ECRs, third sector employees and community activists, provides valuable opportunities for reflecting on and enhancing your practice and supporting your CPD.
Evaluation of Public Engagement workshops (online)
Discover how to evaluate public engagement to record impact, give your audience a strong voice and measure success with Dr Jamie Gallagher, Engagement trainer and consultant.
New report on inequity of science engagement across the UK
A new report, Mapping and analysis of science engagement and inequity in the UK, has been published on 15 March. Commissioned by the British Science Association (BSA), and compiled by London Economics, a policy and economics consultancy, the report looks at different measures or ‘indicators’ of science engagement in a given area – such as number of science museums/centres, STEM graduates and businesses – combining them into a ‘opportunity to engage with science index’ to showcase how likely it is that someone is able to interact with science in their local authority.
Public and Community Engagement in the KEF review
National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement published a thematic review on Public and Community Engagement in the Knowledge Exchange Framework.
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
Plenty of items was on sale on inf-general this month (and we do hope someone made use of Helen's ticket to see Joe Lycett!). Kasia would like to yet again thank everyone who responded to her call for trade (and not-so-much-trade) publications.
However, this month's best of Inf-general award goes to Panagiotis Eustratiadis and everyone who helped him colate a list of best language learning apps. We have copied Panagiotis' findings below for everyone to use.
Flashcards (e.g., learn useful phrases at the airport --- but not exactly B1+ level)
- DeckMill (Similar to Duolingo, but much more useful/common phrases, scaling in difficulty from beginner to pre-intermediate)
- Anki (Also flashcards, but a little user-unfriendly, I didn't try it)
Gamified language learning
- Babbel (Similar to Duolingo, but I like the exercises better. Nicely-scaling difficulty, useful sentences and phrases)
- LingQ (Learn languages from content, e.g., read articles, watch snippets of movies/series, etc.)
- Clozemaster (Gamified fill-in-the-blank exercises)
- HelloTalk (Free language exchange --- chat online with native speakers who want to learn your language, correct each other's mistakes)
- Italki (Online teaching, maybe affordable, in the ballpark of £20 per hour, scaling with the experience of the teacher)
- LanguageReactor (Catalog of Netflix movies/series in the language of your choice, available in your region)
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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