Informatics Newsletter October 2023
Issue 73 of our School newsletter for students and staff.
A Message from Deputy Head of School
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.
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.
- Jeff Dalton started as Chancellors Fellow in ILCC on 01 October 2023.
- Thomas Wong started as a Research Assistant in IPAB on 01 October 2023.
- Ivaylo Valkov started as a Research Associate in IPAB on 01 October 2023.
- Mahesh Wickrama Arachchilage started as a Research Associate in ICSA on 01 October 2023.
- Youning Xia started as a Junior Research Assistant in ICSA on 02 October 2023.
- Shubham Chatterjee stared as a Research Associate in ILCC on 02 October 2023.
- Maria Guard started as Finance Business Support Administrator on 02 October 2023.
- Debbie Brownlee started as Reception and Events Assistant on 04 October 2023.
- Tara Capel started as a Lecturer in Design Informatics on 01 October 2023.
We are recruiting for various academic (lecturer/reader) and research (RAs) positions within the School of Informatics, across our research fields.
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.
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
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.
Human Resources update
It’s worth taking a look at our school’s expenses policy which has been reviewed recently
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.
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.
Stay tuned for an introduction to a different professional services team with each newsletter.
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.
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.
CoreKube paper published at ACM MobiCom wins Best Artifact Award
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.
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.
Vaishak Belle delivers keynote talk at ML, Law and Society
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.
In 2023, the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh celebrates 60 years of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence (AI). The School of Informatics celebrates these two vital areas of research that are at the core of its existence by leading on a programme of events and activities throughout 2023.
Limited places available – all successful applicants will be fully funded to attend the event by Postdocs to Innovators (p2i).
Apply by midday UK time 4 October 2023.
Step out of your day-to-day activities and join likeminded researchers from across Europe at 1,940 m height in beautiful Obergurgl, Austria for the opportunity to see your research through a different lens. Get inspired, work on (your) business ideas, learn new skills, connect with likeminded researchers and business experts. The event combines interactive workshops, teamwork, and panel discussions. You’ll leave with new connections, a renewed motivation and confidence and a set of skills to increase impact from your research.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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The newsletter is produced by the Communications team.
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