SICSA CDT Bid Writing Workshop Update

by Dr Jeremy Singer
19 February 2018

IMG_6070Only a few weeks till the deadline for outline applications to the EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training call! SICSA organized a workshop in Glasgow last week, to bring together Scottish computer scientists who are intending to submit CDT proposals. Around 25 academics attended the event, representing a majority of the 14 SICSA institutions.

Kevin Hammond and Jeremy Singer started by emphasizing SICSA’s commitment to increasing CDT success in Scotland – in terms of both the quantity and the geographical spread.

Alison Gray from Skillfluence was the workshop facilitator. She highlighted the main points from the EPSRC call documents, and encouraged participants to answer key questions like:

  • How will you evidence a need for a CDT in your chosen topic?
  • How can you establish and maintain a cohort effect?

Dee Heddon from SGSAH provided further insight, through a range of ‘war stories’ drawn from her experience with the Scottish AHRC CDT. Coping with inter-institution rivalry and tension seems to require remarkable patience and diplomacy – she has 17 university partners to appease.

In the afternoon session, participants engaged in writing or planning for their outline applications. Different groups were at different stages – some had brought along draft proposals for feedback – other groups only began to assemble at the workshop, particularly around themes like e-Health and AI.

Darran Gardner from The Data Lab described an industrial perspective on doctoral training, and provided hints on how to foster helpful relationships with industry partners.

All in all, it was a useful day. At SICSA, we are determined to do all we can to strengthen Scottish-based CDT bids. If you are submitting an outline proposal, please get in touch with us to see how we can support your application.

 

SICSA can help with your CDT outline proposal

by Dr Jeremy Singer. SGA Director
2 February 2018

SICSA aims to maximise the success of EPSRC CDT applications from our member institutions. To this end, we want to support CDT outline bids as far as possible. SICSA has committed to providing a £75K package of in-kind support to each CDT bid. This comprises reserved places at our annual PhD conference, pre-allocated booths at our DemoFest industry-facing event, and priority access to our industrial internship funding programme.

At this outline proposal stage, we intend to get as many Scottish ICT CDT bids through to the next round. We are running a CDT Outline Writing workshop in Glasgow on 13 Feb – please sign up and come along! A professional research trainer will help us to shape outline proposal ideas, provide in-person confidential feedback on draft documents, and give focused advice on how to present balanced research and training programme proposals.

The SICSA research community represents the best of Scottish academic collaboration. In the first iteration of SICSA, cross-site PhD student supervision and supervisor partnering were defining features. This round of CDT funding is a golden opportunity to reinvigorate such cooperative initiative in postgraduate research.

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Our EU proposal writing and submission with support from SICSA PEER funding

by Juan Ye
29 January 2018

Have you experienced the challenge when you are socialising with people from a wide, diverse background? You may have different ethnic, educational, cultural background, and understanding each other may take a lot of effort. Our EU FET project, called DIVERSITY, is to deliver technological tools that humans can use to overcome the pervasive challenge of understanding people who are different from ourselves – whether by virtue of gender or race, sexuality or neurodiversity. The ambition is to pave the way for ground-breaking technologies that will reshape the ways people interact with each other and make sense together. We aim to instigate this new discipline of Diversity Computing, bringing together psychology and philosophy, design and human-computer interaction, with multiple branches of computer sciences to investigate the very nature of social interaction, using unconventional means and radical theoretical concepts. Through a series of ambitious, interdisciplinary work packages, we will lay the foundations of this new field, ultimately addressing big questions for our individualistic, globalised and multi-cultural society.

Developing this proposal is very pleasant, stimulating, and rewarding experience. Most of the consortium members are young, early-career researchers who share a lot of common research interest. I was very surprised by that even though all of us are from quite diverse disciplines. We started working on the proposal very early, around March 2017. We have several Skype calls and email communications to exchange thoughts, consolidate ideas, and share writings. It is the trip to Vienna in August that brought most of us together and finalized the proposal. During the trip, we had a lot of discussion and writing exercise. The proposal was finally submitted on September 2017.

SICSA PEER funding was very supportive to the proposal writing and the trip. Compared to many other funding applications, PEER is probably the most lightweight, easiest, and quickest. You are only required to complete a short form with one’s basic details along with the call’s information, the idea of your proposal, and purpose for the trip. The SICSA Directors made the decision quickly and the processed the claim was fast and very efficiently.

I really appreciate the SICSA PEER funding award and would encourage anyone who is planning or has already started a EU proposal to consider PEER funding.

Erica

PECE visit to USC/ISI – Los Angeles, US

by Dr Rosa Filgueira
22 January 2018

Rosa 1

My exchange involved visiting Ewa Deelman and Yolanda Gil, both located in the same University (USC) and Institute (Information Science Institute – ISI), from 30th September to 10th December 2017. This visit gave me the great opportunity to work with two World-leading authority on the research and development of advanced information processing technologies and intelligent systems to support extracting knowledge from data and scientific discovery.

Before my arrival, I performed several teleconferences with both, Ewa and Yolanda, so we narrowed the aim and the scope of the visit beforehand. I think that going there with already two pre-defined research-lines in mind helped me a lot to have a successful exchange.

For more than 15 years, Ewa has been conducting and leading the research in scientific workflows. After a couple of meetings, we decided to work together in a new scalable and tolerant monitoring data-streaming framework, which allows us to collect, pre-process, store and visualize data in real-time. This framework is aligned with the Panorama project (https://panorama360.github.io/), an approach to performance modelling and diagnosis of extreme-scale workflows, where Ewa is the Principal Investigator.

Currently, this framework is being evaluated at the British Geological Survey (BGS), as a possible architecture for monitoring real-time sensor data and creating an alert system for interpreting sensors at the field (http://www.bgs.ac.uk/ukgeoenergyobs/).

Yolanda’s research focuses on intelligent interfaces for knowledge capture, which involves topics such as semantic annotation tools or community-wide development of knowledge bases. Yolanda has recently started a new project called MINT: Model Integration through Knowledge-Rich Data and Process Composition (http://mint-project.info/), which I was invited to participate as an external collaborator. Together we developed a new intelligent catalog for hydrological knowledge capture. The new catalog acts as a semantic data hub for choosing which countries to work with in this project (e.g. countries for which we have more datasets available). The next steps will be to link the catalog and mount it in public repository to make queries against it.

During my visit, I also had the opportunity to meet other researchers and groups, through several face-to-face meetings and by giving a seminar at the end of the exchange https://www.isi.edu/events/calendar/11376. Presentation available at https://github.com/rosafilgueira/datastreaminghub/blob/master/Presentation_ISI_17_RF.pdf

These collaborations haven’t finished after my visit, since I am still in touch with both hosts, and we have several ideas for continuing collaborating together (e.g. a draft of a paper for eScience conference or future bids and grants).

The research conducted during this visit at USC/ISI is not only very valuable for me, in terms of my career, as well for the institution where I work as a data scientist. At BGS, I participate in several national and international funded projects (such as EPOS, UKGEOS or Envriplus), where new data-streaming architectures as well intelligent catalogs are needed to improve the interoperability and accessibility of models and data. Therefore, the work conducted at USC/ISI and the new skills learnt would have a positive impact in the projects that I am currently working on.

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Deelman and her team at ISI. (L-R) Back row: Tu Mai Anh Do, Mats Rynge, Karan Vahi, George Papadimitriou. Front row: Rosa Filgueira, Ewa Deelman, Rajiv Mayani

I really encourage early career researchers to take advantage of the SICSA PECE grant. It will have a high impact in your future steps as a researcher and it will allow you to increase your network of contacts, and skills while you are working full-time (for a period of time) in an area of your interest.

One year of the SICSA Network and Systems (NET-SYS) Research Theme

by Dimitrios Pezaros
15 January 2018

In September 2016, I took over as leader of the SICSA Networking and Systems (NET-SYS) theme from Marwan Fayed who had done an excellent job leading SICSA’s Next Generation Internet (NGI) activities over the past few years. Not only there was a succession in leadership, there was also the launch of SICSA’s updated research themes to broaden representation of our research communities.

In the case of Networking and Systems, the theme was launched to succeed SICSA’s NGI as an umbrella theme which would capture all research activity under the broadened constituent areas, and to which NGI would be one specialised strand.

The first thing we did was to set up the NET-SYS mailing list and invite academic colleagues with relevant backgrounds and interests from academia and industry to join. Also, we have invited colleagues to take initiative and form specialist sub-groups to reflect the diverse areas under the merit of NET-SYS, and seek SICSA funding for the organisation of research-focused events in, among others, computer architecture, hardware systems, compiler and language support for parallelisation, networked systems, etc.

NGI continued as a focused strand under NET-SYS, and have had two SCONE (SCOttish Networking Event) meetings, one in January (Glasgow) and one in April (St Andrews), featuring student talks, mentorship activities, research integrity activities, community discussion, and an invited talk from Mirco Musolesi (UCL) on data-driven behaviour interventions, and how smart technologies can contribute to eHealth.

marionet_logoFinally, SICSA NET-SYS together with the EPSRC MaRIONet network co-funded the Reliable, Secure and Scalable Software Systems (RS4) Workshop hosted at Glasgow on 1st September 2017, as part of the activities celebrating 60 years of Computing at Glasgow. The event was very vibrant and well-attended, discussing topics on building secure and resilient systems, and featured talks from academia and industry, including speakers from ARM, EPCC, Codeplay, Maidsafe, and Twitter.

We are now looking forward to another even more vibrant and productive year, with wider engagement from colleagues working in the networking and systems areas across Scotland. There is a budget to support research and community-building events across the theme as well as for conference organisation, and we are very much looking forward to receiving your proposals.

SICSA Knowledge Exchange Update

by Alistair Lawson, SICSA KE Director
9 January 2018

Bliadhna Mhath Ùr! / Happy New Year!

KE Blog Pic 2It has been a busy few months since I took over the role of SICSA Knowledge Exchange Director at the end of April 2017. Planning for Demofest 2017 was already in hand at that stage, and thanks go to Steven Kendrick and Aileen Orr for their organisation and co-ordination of the event which was a great success at Our Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh, attracting 2 main sponsors (Toshiba Medical and The Data Lab); 10 event partners; 280 delegates (including a number of investors); 52 academic exhibitors; and two keynotes speakers (Gillian Docherty – CEO of The Data Lab and Shirley Anne Somerville MSP, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science).  Plans are underway for DemoFest 2018, which will take place at Our Dynamic Earth is likely to be in November 2018.  We will be in touch when details are finalised.

One thing that we would like to do this year is to track the impact of DemoFest over a longer period of time. If you have any case studies of previous exhibitors who may have experienced longer term impact from attending the DemoFest event then please get in touch.

Another thing that we would like to do is reinvigorate some KE funding programmes which have not been available in recent years due to funding constraints. In previous years SICSA KE funding programmes included Early Career Industry Fellowships, Industrial Internships, and Distinguished Industrial Visitor Fellowships.  Over the next few months we will be exploring how we might leverage funding for future KE programmes.

Meanwhile, if there’s anything you would like us to consider in terms of SICSA support for Knowledge Exchange activity, then please get in touch with me via sicsa-ke-director@sicsa.ac.uk .

I look forward to meeting you at the various SICSA events over the coming year

Theory, Modelling and Computation Research Theme update

by Ekaterina Komendantskaya
24 November 2017

SICSA Theory, Modelling and Computation theme had a busy time in the academic year 2016-17. We funded six events on Theorem Proving, Programming Language Semantics, Categories, Logic and Physics, Algebra and Coalgebra, Combinatorics. The events took place at St Andrews, Strathclyde and Edinburgh universities. The biggest of these events, ALCOPVIII (https://personal.cis.strath.ac.uk/clemens.kupke/ALCOP2017/), was in fact an international annual workshop, and featured international speakers from France, Netherlands, Poland and USA.

ALCOP image
We are looking forward to another busy and successful year!

 

SICSA HCI Research Theme update

by Dr Miguel Nacenta and Dr Martin Halvey 
2 November 2017

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The SICSA HCI theme is one of the longest running themes in SICSA. Within Scotland, we have a range of world-leading expertise that address the difficult research problems in human-computer interaction. As such the SICSA HCI Theme encompasses over 36 individual research groups at 12 Scottish universities. We also maintain a low-traffic and high-relevance mailing list of over 300 academics and practitioners and we welcome proposals to fund local events in Scotland. To give you an idea of the sorts of things we do below are come details on several events we have been involved in over the past 12 months.

  • Each year we hold the SICSA All Hands meeting, the most recent event took place in November 2016 in St Andrews, and that was sold out (about 60 people attended). 2 internationally renowned HCI researchers (Professor Alan Dix and Professor Albrecht Schmidt) gave keynote talks. During the event we also had a town hall meeting to discuss the future of the community and had short presentations from the majority of HCI groups in Scotland. We have also established a working collaboration with the new ACM SIGCHI UK chapter. They also presented information about the new chapter and potential challenges at the all hands meeting.
  • We sponsored student places at the The Biological Visualisation Community’s 3rd Annual Meeting at Edinburgh Napier University in April 2017. This meeting included 3 keynotes, 7 talks on biological data visualisation as well as lightning talks, posters and demos.
  • We sponsored 2 student places at the Tiree Techwave, a creative workshop that tries to bring together creative people from disparate background to solve real world problems
  • Each year we hold a pre-CHI to present the papers from Scotland accepted to ACM CHI, the preeminent venue for HCI research. In 2017 the event was at the University of Dundee. 15 research papers, which represent a subset of accepted papers, were presented on the day
  • Along with multiple research groups we sponsored a SICSA HCI promotional event at CHI 2017 in Denver, Colorado. In 2019 CHI will be held in Glasgow, this is the first time the event will be in the UK. The promotional event intended to promote HCI research in Scotland and also to encourage leading HCI researchers to visit Scotland before and after CHI
  • Each year we also hold a SICSA HCI Doctoral Consortium, this is timed to coincide with the SICSA PhD Conference to reduce travel requirements for students. This was also hosted by the University of Dundee in June 2017.
  • In August 2017 a Digital Humanities Workshop was held at the University of Strathclyde. Their aim of this workshop was to bring together researchers from the extensive research base of both computing and the humanities across Scotland. 2 internationally researchers gave keynotes (Professor Lorna Hughes and Professor Daniela Petrelli), with most of the rest of the day taken up with networking and knowledge sharing events.

As can be seen from the activities above, we are interested in a range of events to support HCI researchers in Scotland and also interested in expanding our network and research world view. If you want to get involved or have some new ideas for our community please get in contact. The Research Theme Leaders for Human-Computer Interaction are Dr Miguel Nacenta and Dr Martin Halvey.

My PECE visit to the Arizona State University

By Dr Areti Manataki, Senior Researcher in The University of Edinburgh
22nd October 2017

In summer 2017 I visited the Department of Biomedical Informatics in the Arizona State University as part of a SICSA-funded Postdoctoral and Early Career Researcher Exchange (PECE). To say that this research visit has been successful would be an understatement. It has allowed me not only to achieve the aims I set out when planning the visit, but also to connect, learn, grow and explore new research directions in ways I hadn’t anticipated.

During my visit, I was able to work closely with my host, Dr Adela Grando, with other academic faculty and students in the University, as well as with clinical experts from the Mayo Clinic. This rich collaboration gave me a practical perspective on the importance of and challenges in biomedical technologies.

From the first day of my visit, I engaged with research in electronic health record workflow discovery and analysis. In particular, I employed process mining techniques to discover and analyse pre-operative electronic health record workflow in the Jacksonville Mayo Clinic. By combining this analysis with observational data collected by other team members in the Arizona State University and the Mayo Clinic, we were able to tell a comprehensive story about electronic health record workflow, which we described in a paper submitted to the AMIA 2018 Informatics Summit. This work is also going to be presented on Monday 30th October in the University of Edinburgh (for more information see here).

This hands-on experience in clinical process mining has been an eye-opener for me. Before this research exchange I knew very little about process mining. I now understand the opportunities and challenges in this area, which I plan to continue exploring in the future. In fact, I am still collaborating with the Arizona State University team, and we are extending the previous study to consider additional Mayo Clinic sites.

As a concluding remark, I can’t stress enough how important I think such opportunities are for early career researchers like myself. The SICSA-funded visit has allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and experiment with a new research approach, while building close relationships with world-leading experts. Like a breath of fresh air, it has reminded me why I love doing research and why it is worth doing it.

So if you are an early career researcher and are thinking about doing a research visit, do not hesitate. Choose the host institution that you find most intriguing, apply for some SICSA PECE funding and get ready for a life-changing experience.

ASU1 (2) ASU2 (2) ASU3 (2)

SICSA DemoFest 2017

by Dr Jeremy Singer, SICSA Graduate Academy Director
16 October 2017

Blog Pic 2Hundreds of people attended the SICSA DemoFest at Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh, last week. The annual DemoFest event showcases over 50 innovative Computing Science research projects currently under development at Scotland’s universities

As I wandered round the large exhibition hall, I saw sonic levitating devices, virtual reality drum kits, emotional fonts, optical 5G data transmitters, and much more.  The range of research was impressive and inspiring.  I particularly appreciated the enthusiasm of the researchers as they demonstrated their technology and explained it in everyday language to the visitors

The highlight of the evening was a presentation about ‘The World in 2037’ by Gillian Docherty from The Data Lab. Her talk involved lots of entertaining and speculative future-gazing, but the take home message was clear – Scotland needs to maintain its global position at the forefront of digital innovation. A short speech by Shirley-Anne Somerville (Scottish Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science) affirmed the Scottish Government’s commitment to support ongoing innovation in the tech sector.

Blog Pic 1So, I had a great night at SICSA DemoFest, soaking up tomorrow’s technology which is being designed today by world-leading researchers based in Scotland.