Informatics Newsletter November 2018

Issue 20 of our School newsletter for students and staff.

New Staff


  • Mohsen Khadem - Lecturer in Security and Privacy - started on 06/11/2018
  • Valerio Restocchi - Lecturer in Business Applications of Informatics - started on 01/11/2018

Professional Services

  • Nora Bertholomé - Institute Administrative Secretary - started on 26/11/2018
  • Lindsey Fox - Graduate School Manager - started on 12/11/2018


  • Rachel Bawden - Research Associate - started on 05/11/2018
  • Andreas Bueff - Research Assistant - started on 01/11/2018
  • Sara Dalzel-Job - Research Associate - started on 19/11/2018
  • Nina Diviza - Research Assistant - started on 05/11/2018
  • Lewis Hammond - Research Assistant - started on 01/11/2018
  • Matthias Hofer - Research Associate - started on 01/11/2018
  • Matthieu Labeau - Research Associate - started on 12/11/2018
  • Konda Reddy Mopuri - Research Associate - started on 05/11/2018
  • David Rytz - Research Assistant - started on 14/11/2018
  • Robin Trute - Research Assistant - started on 01/11/2018

Highlights from around the School

Informatics Jamboree

Have you enjoyed the Informatics Jamboree last year? Would you like to get involved in organising next year’s one? We are looking for volunteers to join the organising committee.

If you’d like to get involved and make the Jamboree 2019 even more successful, please email us.

Contact Infcomms

School General Meeting

Next general meeting will take place on 23rd January at 10am in G07. Agenda to follow.

Research successes

Creative Informatics

Chris Speed and colleagues from Business School, School of Law and School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures have been awarded £10 million in funding to set up Creative Informatics, a R&D partnership for the Creative Industries. The funding will create the environment for new forms of creative industry that uses data from a range of organisations to encourage innovation across the sector. The award is part of an £80 million nationwide creative industries initiative from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) – the largest-ever single investment in the sector.  The Scottish Funding Council will provide further financial support.

More about Creative Informatics

Nature Protocols

Samuel Heron and Ian Simpson, with colleagues from the Medical School have a paper in Nature Protocols. Their research addresses the difficulties in physical separation of cell types to study them. In general only single cell type can be analysed. Researchers propose new approach that will make analysis of a distinct cell type from different species possible thanks to the use of Sargasso, a Python tool. This novel procedure requires no special skills beyond those that might normally be expected of wet lab and bioinformatics researchers.

'Mixed-species RNA-seq for elucidation of non-cell-autonomous control of gene transcription'

Nigel Goddard's work featured in Science Trends

A summary of work that Nigel Goddard has been involved with was published in Science Trends. The work is on modelling the physical constraints and economic consequences of transitioning the energy system, particularly with reference to the UK.  Four papers on this topic have been published to date. Researchers looked at the whole-economy outcomes and concluded that financial productivity can be maintained with high employment driven by an expanding service industry. They also found that any inability to deploy CCS (carbon capture and sequestration) technologies on schedule or a delay in implementing the fastest plausible build rates for new nuclear could be covered by an equivalent production capacity in offshore wind with similar financial and employment outcomes.

'Low-Carbon Transitions: How Much Change Can A Nation Afford?'

Vaishak Belle at the International Workshop on Cognitive Robots

Vaishak Belle gave an invited talk at the cognitive robotics workshop in Tempe, Arizona, USA last month. The International Workshop on Cognitive Robotics is a bi-annual event. In 2018 it took place for the 11th time, bringing together researchers and practitioners interested in AI and robotics. Research in cognitive robotics is interested in the cognitive aspects of robots such as perception processing, attention allocation, anticipation, planning, complex motor coordination, reasoning about other agents and perhaps even about their own mental states. This edition of the CogRob workshop aimed at connecting the CogRob community with recent advances in the field of machine learning and agent technologies in order to allow new insights how such techniques could be used beneficially for the behaviour modelling of intelligent agents.

Photos from the Informatics Pub Night (November 2018)
Top: Michael Fourman and Don Sannella partaking in a game of beer pong | Bottom: A few Informatics students at the event.

Student news

Informatics pub night out

On Monday 26th November, Informatics had a pub night out. The evening was a great success — several dozen of students of all levels and staff enjoyed drinks, food and beer pong at 32Below. We are looking forward to having another one soon!  

UK and Ireland Programming Contest came to Edinburgh

Edinburgh University was one of the 14 universities in UK and Ireland that hosted UKIEPC this year, and School of Informatics was one of the participating sites.

'UK and Ireland Programming Contest came to Edinburgh'

Informatics student Stanley Wang competing in the current series of Only Connect

He was on the famous game show as captain of the "Motorheads" team.

Only Connect - Series 14:4. Motorheads v Time Ladies

Previously Stanley was on the Edinburgh team for the 2017/18 University Challenge, where they made it through to the semifinals.

Stanley graduated with a BSc Computer Science in 2016, then took the MSc in Speech and Language Processing in 2016/17.

Recent news from around the School

We are recruiting!

Academic recruitment in Informatics

Informatics Nationalities Campaign

The School of Informatics is proud to be internationally diverse and would like to celebrate its diversity in a respectful and inclusive manner. We propose a social media campaign, called All Informatics Nationalities that will introduce and celebrate the students and staff that come from each country through a series of social media posts. We will be posting most weekdays on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Each post will celebrate the people from one country, along with some other information (Informatics logo, an explanation, and appropriate hashtags).

To avoid clashing and problematic dates, we plan to use dates that are not associated with other historical events, between January and June so that students can celebrate when they are here.

To wrap up the campaign, we will celebrate together at an Everyone Day in June (probably June 21) when we will be sharing food from our countries of origin at an evening event.

Watch this space for more info!

Hugh Leather in a podcast on IoT

Hugh Leather was featured in a podcast talking about the Internet of Things – give it a listen:

The Internet of Things Podcast - S02E26


New Loan Scheme for Staff

New loan scheme is available for staff. Check the link below for more details.

More information about the scheme

Go Abroad for Staff

Erasmus+ funding is available for professional services and academic staff to undertake short training visits in Europe and beyond. Erasmus+ funding is also available for academic staff to undertake short teaching visits to partner institutions in Europe and beyond. Check links below for more information.

Staff training

Staff teaching

Staff survey results are out

University of Edinburgh Staff Engagement Survey 2018 (on Sharepoint)

Outreach and Public Engagement

List of science-related festivals

The list of (mainly Scottish) science-related festivals can be found at the following link below.

List of Scottish science festivals

Call for ideas - Strathearn Festival of Science

After taking a little break, the Strathearn Festival of Science (centred in Crieff) will be returning in early March 2019. A flagship public event is being developed to provisionally take place on Sat 9th March, and other activities are likely to make up the overall festival.

If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Steuart Cuthbert.

Contact Steuart

Beltane Brunch: Digital Storytelling – Learning from the Big Picnic Project

12th Dec, 9.30-11.30am

Colleagues at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh have recently run digital storytelling activities with the aim of giving a voice to underserved communities about access to nutritious food. Come and hear what they learned! People from Edinburgh’s universities with an interest in public engagement with research, and people from other organisations who want to engage with the research of Edinburgh's universities, are welcome.

Registration on Eventbrite

Deadline approaching - expressions of interest: Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas (August 2019)

Deadline: 7th December

The deadline for expressions of interest for the August 2019 Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas at the Edinburgh Fringe is approaching.

Get involved

Mental health and wellbeing

Informatics Staff and Students

If you feel that you are being mistreated at the University because of a factor such as gender, race, age, nationality, religion, sexuality, etc, you are welcome to confidentially contact the InfHR team in person (Informatics Forum room 5.39) or via email ( at any time.

You can also speak to Mike Cowan in the College Office.

Contact Mike Cowan

All staff and students are also welcome to confidentially contact Jane Hillston, Head of School, as an Equality and Diversity Champion (Informatics Forum room 5.43 or via email, see link below).

Contact Jane Hillston

The University has a number of HR policies, including the Dignity and Respect policy, and staff are encouraged to review these policies.

A to Z of HR Policies

You can find information about mental health and wellbeing under the link below.

Mental health and wellbeing in Informatics

Staff Pride Network Coffee & Cake meetups

Regular Staff Pride Network Coffee & Cake meetups happening around the campus every month.

  • 2nd Wednesday - Central Campus – Bayes Cafe 1-2pm
  • 3rd Wednesday - King's Buildings - Upstairs Café (Staff Area) 1-2pm
  • Last Wednesday - Western General Hospital - Nucleus Café 3-4pm


Jon Oberlander Memorial Lecture

Jon Oberlander Memorial Lecture will be delivered by Professor J. P. de Ruiter, Professor of Computer Science and Psychology at Tufts University, on Monday 17th December 2018 in G.07/G.07a.

This Lecture is hosted by Informatics and is sponsored by SICSA – The Scottish Informatics & Computer Science Alliance.

More information about the Jon Oberlander Memorial Lecture

IT Futures Conference 2018

Informatics Forum, 9:30-16:30, 12th December 2018

Surrounded by vast quantities of data, we are confronted by deep problems and extraordinary opportunities. Radical new thinking is needed, imaginative and interdisciplinary. CityDeal is about the University, in collaboration with the City, its businesses and a wider context, building a national centre of expertise, training and ethics, to realise the value in data. Our conference this year seeks to bring us together as a University to understand the breadth of the implications for creativity, research and education. What do we want it to mean, when we say Edinburgh is Data Capital of Europe?

Opened by Senior Vice-Principal Charlie Jeffery, the conference will be addressed by the Principal, Peter Mathieson and closed by CIO and Librarian to the University, Gavin McLachlan. Other speakers will include Institute directors and major participants in CityDeal activities.

Registration open via MyEd

Full details about the conference

InterSci’s ChatSci series

InterSci’s ChatSci series provides a chance for people to chat about science, with the aim of encouraging collaboration and conversation. Every other Monday at 6:30pm in Harry’s Bar (42-44 Buccleuch St, Edinburgh EH8 9LP) two scientists discuss their work or something they find interesting in science. The conversations are accessible to all and are directed at non-specialists. If you’re interested in science or learning about topics outside of your area of expertise, come along for a drink and a chat and bring your friends!

More about InterSci

Christmas Fair 2018 flyer

Informatics Festive Coffee Break for staff and students

Mince pie, cakes and coffee morning will be held on Wednesday 5th December, 10:30am - 12pm, on the Ground Floor of the Informatics Forum. Please come along to have a bit of a festive break and chat to fellow staff and students. Please register via the Eventbrite link below if you would like to attend.

Registration for the Informatics Festive Coffee Break

Christmas Craft Fair in Potterow

The University's annual Christmas Craft Fair will take place in the Potterow Dome (EUSA) on 7th December, 10am - 4pm.

Edinburgh Bach Choir

Next Edinburgh Bach Choir will take place on Saturday 15th December at 7:30pm. There will be brass and percussion, plenty of cheerful singing from us, and the chance for you to do some too, as usual in the beautiful surroundings of St Cuthbert's, Lothian Road.

£14 full price, £12 concessions, £5 students, essential carers and children free.

For tickets and if you’re interested to join to choir, contact Perdita Stevens.

Contact Perdita

Christmas Jumper Day 2018 flyer

Christmas Jumper Day for charity

In collaboration with the University’s Save the Children Society, we will be celebrating Christmas Jumper Day on Tuesday 4th December. You can donate via the text code TEAMEDUNI to 70050 or alternatively, the Save the Children Society will also be collecting donations via their JustGiving page.

Donate via the Edinburgh University Save the Children Society's JustGiving page

Guess who?

 ... is a track cycling champion at national level?

It is said that even Chris Hoy can't keep up!

Best of inf-general

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.

This month we thank Lynda, for asking and collating the information about where to find cobblers in Edinburgh:

  • Mackenzie Leather Edinburgh, 17 St Mary's St, Edinburgh EH1 1TA
  • Langleys, 30 S Clerk St, Edinburgh EH8 9PR
  • Gorgie Cobblers, 244 Gorgie Rd, Edinburgh EH11 2PL
  • Shoe trade - 8 Viewforth, Edinburgh EH10 4JF
  • Timpsons, evidently can do repairs but send them away
  • Edina Shoe Repair" on Edina Street, near the corner of Elgin Terrace. Current shoemaker inherited the business from his father, and is now training his son.
  • Huttons, 11 Elgin Terrace, Edinburgh EH7 5NN


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


The newsletter is produced by the Communications team.

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