Informatics Newsletter October 2023

Issue 73 of our School newsletter for students and staff.

A Message from Deputy Head of School

Photo of Professor Matthias Hennig, Deputy Head of School
Professor Matthias Hennig, Deputy Head of School

Dear All,

As Helen is on leave, I am currently stepping in to cover for her as Head of School. What, I think, would seem to many like a daunting task is helped greatly by the brilliant leadership team in the School, and I am especially grateful to Joy Candlish for her help and running School business with a steady hand.

Last weekend we hosted, for the first time, an event for School alumni.

Despite storm Babet we had a good turnout and were happy to welcome former students from many different year groups. The two-day event included campus walking tours, including the old JCMB locations that I personally never saw, a drinks reception, and a series of excellent short presentations about current research and teaching at the School, followed by a poster session with our students with a nice Blue Sky lunch. Speaking to the guests, it was fascinating to see how teaching at the School has evolved over the decades while the overall structure and some core components of our degrees are still the same they were in the 1990s. Many thanks to everyone who gave up some of their weekend to help with the event, especially to our 60 Year Celebrations Events Manager Julia Sorensen who made it all happen.

I would like to encourage you all to attend Discover Informatics! event on 1st November at 4 pm, in the Forum Atrium. This event will bring together the whole Informatics community and celebrate all of us: professional services, research and academic staff and students. You will have the chance to listen to various people talking about their roles, and chat with them informally over nibbles. Thank you to Chris Heunen and the People and Culture Committee for organising.

Best wishes,


Discover Informatics

Discover Informatics!

November 1, 4-5pm, Informatics Forum Atrium/G.07/G.03.

This event brings together the whole Informatics community to discover and celebrate all the wonderful things that go on in our large School. In 2-minute lightning talks, you can hear what is exciting about their job or studies from people ranging from professional services staff and students to researchers and professors.

Over drinks and nibbles, you can then chat with the interesting colleagues you didn’t know you had, meet the professors that you otherwise wouldn’t see, or relax with the students that you normally don’t cross paths with.

New staff

Current vacancies

We are recruiting for various academic (lecturer/reader) and research (RAs) positions within the School of Informatics, across our research fields.



Smart scalpel

Smart scalpel could help doctors hone surgical skills, study finds

Scalpels with built-in sensors could streamline training for surgeons and pave the way for procedures performed by robotic devices, a study carried out by the Informatics researcher suggests. Researchers who studied data captured by the scalpel during trials found its sensors could accurately track how much force users were applying during surgical procedures, and how they were controlling the device over time.

Link to full article


Funding for innovative projects available – apply between 12 Oct and 9 Nov 2023

Do you have a project idea that could help Edinburgh students make the most of their time at the university? You could receive up to £5,000 to bring it to life. Student Experience Grants open for student and staff applications between 12 October and 9 November 2023.

Alumni (former students) and friends of the University make the Student Experiences Grants possible through their donations to the Edinburgh Fund. They have been helping students and staff do brilliant things for over 10 years. Get to know some of the inspiring people and projects that have been supported

Link to Student Experience Grant Success Stories

The Student Experience Grants team would love to hear from you if you have any questions, please email the grants team using the link below.

Email Grants team



Human Resources update

School Expenses

It’s worth taking a look at our school’s expenses policy which has been reviewed recently

Link to Informatics staff and student expenses guidance webpage

For those involved in hosting candidates for academic recruitment, please pay particular attention to the section on “Entertaining & hospitality: guests and external contacts”.

Annual leave carry-over

All staff should ensure that leave is taken at regular intervals within the current leave year. However, staff can carry over 5 days into 2024 (i.e. 35 hours for full-time or pro-rated hours for part-time staff) providing you have your manager's approval. Anything exceeding this will automatically be deducted from your record.

We encourage all staff to check their annual leave balances to ensure all leave has been entered. When viewing your annual leave balance, please ensure you are looking at the balance as the ‘last calculation date’ rather than the ‘current date' as the current date will not include any future leave that is booked for 2023. Please note that the Christmas closure period from 22nd December 2023 to 29th December 2023 must not be deleted out of your record.

If you have any questions or require any help please do not hesitate to get in touch with InfHR.

Please see the University’s Annual Leave Policy and Christmas closure webpage for more information.

Annual Leave Policy

Christmas closure dates 2023-24

Email InfHR

Meet our professional services - new blog post

Events and Reception

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 next post is brought to you by Events and Reception.

Link to blog post

Stay tuned for an introduction to a different professional services team with each newsletter.

Link to blog

Student news

Vidminas Vizgirda completes Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice

Vidminas Vizgirda, a research postgraduate student in ILCC, has completed the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice.  PgCAP is a 60-credit postgraduate certificate degree in academic practice. 

The Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice is formally accredited by the Higher Education Academy (also known as Advance HE). Holders of the Certificate are therefore automatically eligible to become Fellows of the Academy.  It's the highest achievement in university teaching that can be achieved by a PhD student. 

The Fellowship is increasingly sought after in the labour market and for promotion opportunities. It is globally recognised.


Staff news

Wenfei Fan

Professor Wenfei Fan elected Fellow of Royal Academy of Engineering

Wenfei Fan, Professor of Web Data Management at the School of Informatics is among the 2023 cohort of leading figures in the field of engineering and technology elected to the Royal Society of Engineering (RAEng) Fellowship in recognition of his outstanding and continuing contributions to the profession, it was announced at the RAEng annual general meeting on 19 September 2023.

The Academy's Fellowship represents the nation’s best engineering researchers, innovators, entrepreneurs, business and industry leaders.

Link to full article

CoreKube paper published at ACM MobiCom wins Best Artifact Award

Mahesh Marina

Professor Mahesh Marina, with his PhD students Andrew Ferguson and Jon Larrea presented their paper titled “CoreKube: An Efficient, Autoscaling and Resilient Mobile Core System” at the 2023 edition of the ACM MobiCom conference held in Madrid on 2-6 Oct 2023. Further, this work received the Best Artifact Award and was also shortlisted for the Best Demonstration Award. MobiCom is the premier venue for research in the mobile computing and networking field.

Mobile core is the nerve centre for operating a mobile network for handling the essential control functionality (device authentication, mobility management, etc.) and more. Mobile core systems in the 5G era have embraced virtualization and cloud-based deployment for cost and flexibility reasons. Equally, the increasing number and diverse types of (personal and IoT) devices getting connected through mobile networks necessitate flexible adaptation of core resource usage with its control traffic dynamics while being responsive to end devices. However, existing mobile core system designs are incapable of meeting these requirements, rooted in their stateful processing in the core and its coupling with the radio access network (RAN). CoreKube overcomes both these limitations through a novel message-focused and cloud-native design with truly stateless processing in the core that is decoupled from the RAN. CoreKube system implementations for 4G and 5G have been open sourced to enable further research and development building on the CoreKube design.

Link to the Conference website

Link to the paper


Kia Nazarpour’s new Neuranics spinout secured £1.9m investment

Professor Kia Nazarpour, Personal Chair of Digital Health at the School of Informatics, is part of new Bio-magnetic sensor company Neuranics, which has secured £1.9m investment. 

Neuranics develops pioneering magnetic sensors integrated with semiconductor technology for health, fitness, and metaverse applications. Neuranics’ patented technology uses scalable spintronics sensors powered by semiconductors to detect tiny magnetic signals from organs of the body. 

Link to Edinburgh Innovations announcement

Vaishak Belle delivers keynote talk at ML, Law and Society

Vaishak Belle

Vaishak Belle delivered a keynote talk titled 'On the relevance of logic for AI and the promise of neuro-symbolic learning' at the inaugural workshop of Learning, Law, and Society in conjunction with ECML 2023 in Turin, Italy.

He discussed the various ways in which logic has proven useful in the field of Artificial Intelligence. Vaishak then highlighted some recent work from ICLP, presenting an epistemic perspective on explanations and fairness.

My argument revolves around employing distinct representations for users and agents, with the aim of comprehending how knowledge contributes to defining these concepts. Below, you will find a link to the slides and a brief description.

Vaishak BelleReader in Logic and Learning at the School of Informatics

Link to keynote slides


Outreach and Public Engagement

Tell us about your recent outreach and public engagement activity

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

Interested in outreach in public engagement? Join Informatics Outreach Allies!

Calling all students and staff members interested in outreach and public engagement!

The School is getting queries and calls from local schools, organisations, and festivals looking for scientists to get involved in various outreach and public engagement activities. If you are interested in helping out and spreading the word about your research, perhaps you’d like to become an Outreach Ally? We will have a Teams channel where the calls for help will be advertised and allies will be able to team up and work together.

If you’re interested join the Outreach Allies Team!

Outreach Allies on Teams

Best of Inf-general

This month's best of inf-general goes to Michael O'Boyle for summarising a list of recommended online poll platforms he received following a call for suggested alternatives to Doodle Poll, which now requires a subscription. The most popular was Straw Poll. The next most popular was When2Meet.

Link to Straw Poll website

Link to When2Meet website

He was looking for some recommendations for an alternative platform to host a poll on, other than Doodle Poll which now requires a subscription.

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.

Informatics Communications team website






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