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.

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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.

 

 

Helping your Cyber Security Journey

by Alan Settery, SICSA Cyber Security Network Integrator
9 October 2017

As always Freshers week was full of enthusiasm and energy as students were welcomed across Scotland’s universities and now settle down to start their new computing science and cyber security courses.

It’s an exciting time to be involved and set out on this journey; technology is evolving at a fast pace and there are a lot of interesting areas to be involved in – from bit coins and block chain to artificial intelligence, robotics and autonomous cars; from a raspberry pi and hackathons to the cloud, supercomputers and big data analytics. Of course cyber security needs to be considered in all of these areas and many more. We know the importance being digitally safe and secure plays in our day to day lives and the role industry has in dealing with cyber threats to our services and infrastructure.

Cyber UpdateRecently, some students may have attended the CyberFirst events held across universities – Edinburgh Napier University and University of Glasgow. These courses are organised by the National Cyber Security Centre and aimed at encouraging 11 – 17 year olds to the world of cyber security. It is worth noting that CyberFirst is a Student Bursary scheme which is available to first year students at university too – details are available and applications are usually open in April each year. https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/articles/cyber-first-bursary-scheme.

Interestingly Lockheed Martin have sponsored CyberFirst too. http://www.lockheedmartin.co.uk/uk/news/press-releases/2017-press-releases/lockheed-martin-backs-governments-cyberfirst-initiative-to-find-tomorrows-online-security-experts.html

For those of you with an interest in, but not already on a cyber security course, if would like to know more about the topic there is a free on-line Open University introduction through Future Learn. https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/introduction-to-cyber-security/12 This covers, Threat landscape, Authentication, Malware, Networking & Comms, Cryptography, Network Security, Defences and Risks and could be a flexible way to understand more.

Did you know?

 – October is the raising Cyber Security awareness month in Europe  https://cybersecuritymonth.eu and in the USA https://www.dhs.gov/national-cyber-security-awareness-month

At the Interface of Innovation

What-we-do

by Heather Alexander, Interface Marketing Manager
27 July 2017

Interface are delighted to be working with SICSA and involved in this year’s DemoFest to help promote the great work that is happening in Scottish universities across Informatics and Computer Sciences.

At Interface we connect organisations of all sizes, from all sectors, to the right academic expertise for increased research and development (R&D) activity leading to the creation and development of new products, services and processes.

Business-academic collaborations play a vital role supporting Scotland’s economy, enabling businesses to reach new markets, increase turnover and safeguard and create jobs. The impacts on society are far-reaching. Indeed, over the last 12 years the Interface team have facilitated over 2,470 business-academic opportunities, resulting in over 1,420 R&D projects.

Engaging with industry supports universities and academics by helping to; achieve impact with research, provide additional income to fund individuals and department activities, grow contacts and networks relevant to research, introduce students to industry to enhance employability and create commercial opportunities from facilities, equipment and off the shelf technologies.

The majority of organisations seeking academic expertise do so to fill a gap where they do not have in-house expertise. Ecometrica, an end-to-end environmental software-as-a-service (SaaS) company, and their collaboration with the School of Geoscience’s at the University of Edinburgh is a great example of this cross-disciplinary approach. The project tested the suitability of different earth observation (EO) satellite products for monitoring forest change both in the UK and Internationally. The benefits to the university will be felt in terms of its international research and innovation ranking, and its reputation in the fields of forest ecology and the application of space technology.

It is not just expertise and know-how services that companies can engage with, there is also a vast range of specialist facilities which can support industry. Hundreds of pieces of equipment and cutting edge facilities are used every day for scientific research throughout Scotland and are widely available for commercial use to help create, develop, test & analyse ideas and products. These specialist facilities combined with the academic and technical expertise are a very valuable solution for commercial business projects. You can see the types of Specialist Facilities that are available for commercial use here.

Interface helps to connect the contrasting worlds of business and academia, fulfilling the roles of translator and impartial broker to make connections which benefit the economy and Scotland as a whole.

SICSAConf2017: Discovering great things in Dundee!

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I have discovered so many new things over the past two days at the SICSA PhD conference in Dundee.

First I learned a new word – smirry – which described the Dundonian weather – grey and a bit wet (I think).

Then I was inspired by our two PhD Conference keynote speakers. Chris van der Kuyl gave us tremendous insight about tech entrepreneurship. He asserted confidently that Scotland is the best place in the world, in terms of tech startups and adventurous Computer Science. Music to SICSA’s ears!

Mandy Chessell gave us a reflective talk on information management, with knowledge gleaned over decades of experience at IBM. My take-home message was that we should support collaborative open source endeavour, and learn from the past.

The PhD students attending the conference came from all of Scotland’s universities – from UHI in the north to UWS in the south-west. The engaging poster presentations and demos were fantastic. I spent so much time chatting with students over posters that I missed lunch today! We have four worthy winners for the poster/demo competition:

  • Sofiat Olaosebikan (Glasgow)
  • Xue Li (Edinburgh)
  • Andrei Boiko (Abertay)
  • Blessing Mbipom (Robert Gordon)

There were plenty of training sessions too – with topics like IBM Bluemix, Ethics, Teaching, Thesis Statements, Viva Survival, and Command-Line Hacking all under the spotlight. Students chose workshops that appealed to them – and all workshops were well-attended over the two days.

Finally, I enjoyed the local cuisine. In our jute conference bag, we each received a pot of Dundee Marmalade. I also ventured to the Tay Fry Inn for some delicious deep fried pizza and haggis. All in all, another brilliant SICSA PhD conference. Thanks to the SICSA staff, Rachel Menzies, Dundee Uni, and the student organizing committee for such a great time!

 

 

 

Highlight Your Talent with Company Connecting

by Jordan Watts, Marketing Manager at Company Connecting
24 April 2017

Company Connecting ImageCompany Connecting is a Scottish based platform designed to help IT companies and individuals working within IT to find one another, essentially facilitating the growth of the IT industry by improving accessibility. We have gathered all the data on Scottish IT companies with individual detail and analysis applied, and are currently working on companies in the rest of the UK. We use this highly detailed information to connect people and organisations both within and outwith the IT industry. Our ultimate aim is create a niche IT ecosystem which provides streamlined connections to promote excellence and create growth within information technology.

A crucial part of this work is the detailed and insightful content which we publish regularly in the form of blogs, articles, infographics, videos and whitepapers. Key to this publishing, is our ever popular Student/ Graduate series. This series focuses in on some of the brightest new talent in the areas of IT, Computing, Science and Business emerging from Scottish Universities.

Company Connecting attended a SICSA event back in 2016 and were inspired by the fantastic work going on within Informations and Computer Science by individuals from Scottish Universities. Ever since we have endeavoured to highlight SICSA through our regular Student and Graduates blog and are currently hoping to expand this further.

We are currently looking for more students and graduates involved with SICSA, and beyond, to feature in the next instalments of our series. It is a fantastic way to create awareness about research, start up businesses, for finding employment post-university, and simply highlighting your studies. If you are interested, you can get in touch with us here, or alternatively you can speak to SICSA for more information.

 

New MSc IT Cyber Security for non-computing graduates

Cyber Security is growing in importance as more and more of what we do moves online.  Both public and private sector organisations are employing more cyber security professionals, both because they want to secure their information, but also, increasingly, because they are required to do so by new legislation.

The University of Glasgow School of Computing Science is delighted to announce the availability of a new programme designed for graduates who have a good non-computing degree and an interest in cyber security.  On the security side it teaches general cyber security techniques with Cyber Security Fundamentals and Cryptography and Secure Development.  Enterprise Cyber Security covers security in business organisations, while Human Centred Security, Cyber Security Forensics and Safety Critical Systems (protecting critical infrastructure) rounds off this part of the programme.

On the IT side, students are taught to program with a Programming course and Team Project, and also learn about Databases, Computer Systems and Software Project management.  The programme finishes with a Cyber Security based summer project.  No prior computing education is required.

Further information at www.glasgow.ac.uk/postgraduate/taught/itcybersecurity/

 

SICSA CDT Info Day – 31 March 2017

by Dr Jeremy Singer, SICSA Graduate Academy Director
22 March 2017

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PhD research is a vital component of every university academic activity. Over the past decade, the UK funding model has shifted from individual PhD scholarships towards centres for doctoral training (CDTs). These are large cohorts of students located in centres of excellence devoted to specific research topics. In the ICT sector there are only three CDTs in Scotland at present – Data Science, Pervasive Parallelism, and Robotics – all located in the city of Edinburgh.

Scotland faces a particular problem with CDTs – our CompSci departments are generally small and geographically distant. This is precisely what SFC research pooling aims to address. The question now becomes: can we take advantage of pooling to set up virtual centres of excellence that would form the basis for new CDTs? This requires combining smaller research groups in novel ways- which we have already done to some extent via SICSA research themes.  Now can we achieve closer integration and collaboration to build CDT sites?

We have organised a meeting in Edinburgh on Friday 31 March, to prepare for the next CDT funding call from EPSRC, probably due within the next year or so. We will have briefings from EPSRC and current CDT award holders, as well as interactive sessions aimed at fostering collaboration. Please register for this workshop on eventbrite, and let other colleagues know about it

EPSRC Diversity and Inclusion in ICT Study

by Professor Carron Shankland, University of Stirling
21 February 2017

We know that women are not well represented in our discipline. The 2016 Women in IT scorecard shows that while all girls get Information and Communication Technology (ICT) at an early age in school, the number of women drops throughout education to 36% at GCSE level, 26% at GCE level, and just 17% at degree level.  This 17% is maintained in industrial jobs, although there is wide variation within different specialisms. In academia we find a similar leaky pipeline: from 17% graduating at first degree level, we rise to 25% at postgraduate level, 22% at lecturer/senior lecturer level, and 12.5% at professorial level (HESA 2013/14 figures).

Clearly there’s a problem getting women into the subject in the first place, but why do many women, having trained in computing, not continue their career?  EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) are particularly interested in why research careers are not pursued by women, and other under-represented groups, in Computing/ICT (Information and Communication Technologies). If we assume women are equally able to do computing research (and why wouldn’t we?) then the implication is that there are barriers faced by under-represented groups. In which case, what are those barriers and how can we break them down?  It seems clear that for the health of our discipline we need to get better at retaining talented people.

These are among the questions being considered in a diversity and inclusion study commissioned by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). https://www.epsrc.ac.uk/newsevents/news/ictdiversityinclusionresearch/

The review is investigating what the barriers are, how they manifest themselves and what can be done to support underrepresented groups in ICT.  Some issues may cut across minority groups, whether those groups are identified by gender, race, sexuality, age, disability, religion, pregnancy and maternity, or married or partnership status. Therefore the study starts with an an inclusive online survey across the whole ICT research community.

We need to hear from everyone to get a full picture of our research environment (postgrad students to professors, and not only representatives of minority groups). We’re also interested to hear the experiences of those who have left academia: if you are still in touch with ex-colleagues please forward the survey to them.

Take the survey today – right now:   https://www.research.net/r/diversityICT

The survey will be open until 28 February and takes around 15 minutes to complete. Questions are around career aspirations and the support you get to pursue your career, your day-to-day environment, the effect of your life on your career, and so on.

Remember, we want to hear from everyone in this survey