With SICSA Research Scholar funding, PhD Student Bilyana, joined a Research Workshop collaboration on the theme of content in Berlin.

By Bilyana Palankasova

21 February 2024

               

During the last days of January and the first week of February 2024, I had the absolute pleasure of starting off my year by participating in the annual research workshop organised by the Centre for the Study of the Networked Image at London Southbank University, the Digital Aesthetics Research Centre at Aarhus University and the Berlin-based festival for art and digital culture transmediale. The theme of this year’s workshop was content/form and drew on the larger theme which transmediale was exploring – content.

My interest in being a participant in the workshop was two-fold. Firstly, as a PhD researcher working in the field of art, technology and digital culture, I was excited to work collaboratively with other early career researchers working in adjacent areas. Secondly, my PhD research is concerned with festivals of art and digital culture, and I’m particularly interested in discursive curatorial and programming forms (i.e. workshops) and how they make festivals a para-academic cultural space for the production of new knowledge and discourses. With these two interests at heart, I was excited to receive a place on the workshop and to have a chance to engage with this wider community.

The workshop took place 29-31 of January and one of its main objectives was the launch of a collaboratively produced publication exploring methods of working, writing, referencing and publishing which are alternative to traditional academic ones. While looking to challenge conventional research development, we also engaged with the social and technical conditions of sustainable research practices, particularly its mechanisms of sharing, reviewing, and its infrastructure. To this end, our research and resulting publication was based on an experimental platform and publication tool – “wiki4print”. By using Media Wiki software and web-to-print techniques, wiki4print attempts to challenge academic workflows and traditional hierarchical roles within institutional knowledge production.

Wiki4print is part of a larger infrastructure for research and publishing, “ServPub”, a feminist server and tools developed and facilitated by grassroot tech collectives In-grid, Systerserver, and Varia/CC. ServePub is a network of servers which uses a VPN with a reverse proxy that makes it accessible on the public internet and wiki4print is one server in this network hosting the wiki from which our publication was produced. ServPub’s wiki4print portable raspberry pi server was plugged into the network at Haus der Kulturen der Welt where the workshop took place.

After three intense days of researching, presenting, thinking and critiquing each other’s work, the participants finalised their contribution in the form of 500 words of research sketches and proposals published on the wiki. Then the wiki was turned into a newspaper via web-to-print techniques by Manetta Berends and Simon Browne. The produced newspaper was printed in 2000 copies and was launched and presented at transmediale festival on 3 February at Haus der Kulturen der Welt.

The minor tech conditions of the workshop, along with the convivial and non-hierarchical ways of working, created a unique entangled research apparatus of technological infrastructure, cultural systems, human researchers, old and new ideas, html and css, and many cups of coffee. The resulting publication weaves a rich and diverse narrative of content/form exploring “the horror of content” through a trans-disciplinary lens and drawing on science and technology studies, philosophy, art theory, image politics, and multi-species commoning amongst other areas of research, to probe the technological, political and cultural impact, limitations and potentials of our troubled relationship to content. Amongst many fascinating speculations, my research considered art documentation in the context of proliferating visual content on social media. I proposed a reading of art documentation on Instagram feeds as an example of cultural innovation following Boris Groys’ theory of innovation.

After the workshop and the presentation of our contributions and outcomes at the festival, all participating researchers are invited to develop their research into a full academic paper to be considered for publication in the next issue of APRJA journal, published by Aarhus University.

 

SICSA PhD Conference 2024

We are planning for our next PhD Conference in July this year. Details will be coming soon!

‘It has been invaluable in my academic journey’, With SICSA Research Scholar funding, Jiawei attended and presented at HICSS in Hawaii.

By Jiawei Zheng

6 February 2024

               

I am a final year PhD student from School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh. I was delighted to share and present my work on Alignment-based Conformance Checking over Probabilistic Events in 57th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS) from the 2nd to 6th January in Honolulu.

About the conference 

The Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS) is a prestigious (ranked A) information system conference. This conference boasts a wide-ranging scope that encompasses areas from computer science and information technology to systems, and extends into sectors like healthcare, electrical engineering, software engineering, etc. Particularly noteworthy is the business process technology mini-track, which presents a unique and regular occasion for meeting and collaboration within the fast-expanding global community dedicated to Process Mining. This mini-track of the conference consistently draws the interest of leading talents and renowned researchers worldwide, making it a hub for innovation and scholarly exchange in the field.

Highlight of my HICSS participation

Given the unique fit of the mini track scope to my work, I had the exciting opportunity to present my research in an oral presentation. In this research, I extend alignment-based conformance checking to function under a probabilistic event log. I introduce a custom threshold parameter to control the level of confidence on the event data vs. the process model. The resulting algorithm considers activities of lower but sufficiently high probability that better align with the process model. The resulting algorithm considers activities of lower but sufficiently high probability that better align with the process model.

This novel contribution to conformance checking in the context of probabilistic events attracted significant interest and sparked lively discussions among attendees. The conversation opened avenues for exploring future research directions, indicating the potential impact and interest my work has within the community. This experience not only increased my confidence in presenting and discussing my research but also inspired new ideas and established a foundation for potential future collaborations.

I deeply appreciate the funding support provided by the Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance (SICSA), whose financial support has been invaluable in my academic journey.

 

‘The visit allowed me to contribute to future best practice standards in DEM, perfectly aligning with my research.’ Read about SICSA student’s visit to SWGDE in Boulder, Colorado.

By Belinda Onyeashie

19 January 2024

Background

I am a second-year digital forensics PhD candidate at Edinburgh Napier University. My research focuses on improving digital evidence management (DEM) to provide reliable evidence trails and timelines for law enforcement. I was thrilled when my request to attend the SWGDE meeting was approved. The mission of the Scientific Working Group on Digital Evidence (SWGDE) is to foster cooperation and ensure quality and consistency across the forensic community by developing interdisciplinary guidelines and standards. Specifically, SWGDE brings together members from law enforcement, academia, and industry to formulate best practices for recovering, preserving, and examining digital evidence.

The Meeting 

The SWGDE meeting was focused and collaborative. There were about sixty participants-twenty-three guests and members. We separated into groups based on expertise: Audio, Forensic, Imaging, Photography, Quality & Standards, and Video Committees. I joined the Forensic Committee, which creates guidance documents on digital forensics best practices. They develop comprehensive documents on technical topics related to digital evidence collection, preservation, and analysis.

The visit allowed me to contribute directly to future best practice standards in DEM, perfectly aligning with my research.

It was valuable to connect with experts from academia, government, and industry. The wealth of knowledge and connections are priceless. As one of only two PhD students approved among twenty-three guests, I was able to contribute alongside supportive and
collaborative longstanding stakeholders who are actively evolving with the field.

My group completed seven documents for publication and has four in progress, with promising topics proposed for the future.

Acknowledgements

This trip and invaluable experience gained would not have been possible without SICSA’s generous financial support for travel to Boulder, Colorado. I am grateful to SICSA and hope to support them in whatever capacity I can, both now and in the future.

‘EMNLP provided a platform to showcase our research and initiated valuable interactions’. Our most recent Research Scholar describes their trip to EMNLP 2023.

By Yifu Qiu

15th January 2024

As a current Ph.D. candidate in Natural Language Processing at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics, I am pleased to share my recent engagement with the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP 2023) held in Singapore.

About the Conference
EMNLP stands as a flagship conference in the realm of Natural Language Processing. The conference provided an insightful platform for researchers in the field to expound upon the latest developments and challenges within the discipline. EMNLP 2023, characterized by its diverse program, featured keynote presentations, diverse tutorials and workshops, and selected oral/poster presentations. Covering an array of domains in NLP – from computational linguistics to the forefront of large language models – the conference underscored the importance of NLP in the pursuit of artificial general intelligence.

Highlight of my EMNLP Participation

A highlight of my EMNLP 2023 participation was the poster presentation of my research entitled “Detecting and Mitigating Hallucinations in Multilingual Summarisation.” This work systematically investigates the well-known issue of hallucinations in neural generative models, particularly within summarization tasks. The phenomenon of hallucination, compromising the faithfulness of automatically generated summaries to their source documents, constitutes a significant challenge, particularly accentuated in low-resource languages. In our work, we systematically evaluate this issue in existing state-of-the-art methods and propose a new way in mitigating the hallucinations. Presenting at EMNLP not only provided a platform to showcase our research but also initiated valuable interactions with experts in the field. During the poster session, engaging in discussions with fellow researchers enriched my understanding, sparked new ideas, and laid the groundwork for potential collaborations.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance (SICSA) for providing the travelling funding that supported my attendance at the EMNLP 2023. As a result I have had a wonderful and fulfilling experience.

‘The conference was thrilling…’, Read more about SICSA Research Scholar funded student’s experience at NeurlPS2023 in New Orleans

By Lorenzo Loconte

4 January 2024

I am a PhD student researching Machine Learning at the University of Edinburgh, School of Informatics. This year, I was delighted to hear the news that one of my papers had been accepted as an oral presentation at the 37th Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS 2023) in New Orleans. Attending the conference has been an enriching experience, as it not only gave me the opportunity of presenting my work, but also allowed me to meet other researchers and collaborators.

About the conference

NeurIPS is a major international conference covering research advances in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. As such, it was the perfect venue for me to submit my work. In my research area, having a paper accepted at NeurIPS is a remarkable achievement, as it is currently the largest conference in my field in terms of attendees and submitted papers. The program of the conference was thrilling, as it included many invited talks, poster sessions and workshops, as well as the possibility of interacting with the industrial sector.

Presenting my research

Given the relevance of the conference to my research field, I was flattered by the idea of presenting my paper in a talk. This year, oral presentations account for about 0.6% of valid paper submissions, which makes presenting my research at the conference an important milestone. As a PhD student, I could not miss this opportunity in my early-stage career.

During the conference, I gave a talk about my work and exhibited it at the poster sessions (see the photo above). This experience also allowed me to be exposed to a high number of research topics and fresh ideas.

Acknowledgments

As a PhD student, seeking funding can be daunting sometimes, and funding initiatives are essential. I am very grateful to the Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance (SICSA) for supporting me financially on this journey.

‘An enriching experience…’ With SICSA funding, student attended the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Conference on Genome Informatics

By Yuelin Yao

14 December 2023

I am a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, School of Informatics. My recent visit to the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Conference on Genome Informatics during 6th to 9th December 2023, was an enriching experience that expanded my horizons in the realm of state-of-the-art computational approaches that are reshaping our understanding of the genome.

Exploring Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Founded in 1890, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has shaped contemporary biomedical research and education with programs in cancer, neuroscience, plant biology and quantitative biology, and it ranked among the leading basic research institutions in molecular biology and genetics, with Thomson Reuters ranking it #1 in the world. As I arrived at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a sense of excitement and anticipation filled the crisp autumn air.

Excellent Talks and Discussion

The conference commenced with a symphony of insights into the latest computational approaches driving genomic research, as well as future directions, encompassing both academic and industrial perspectives. Keynote speakers illuminated the audience with groundbreaking developments in algorithmic advancements, machine learning applications, and computational models that shine a light on the genome’s most hard-to-translate segments.

One notable session is the panel discussion titled NIH Early Stage Investigators. This engaging session brought together a diverse group of accomplished researchers and experts who shared valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities faced by early career investigators in our field. One of the key takeaways from the session was the in-depth exploration of NIH funding mechanisms. As I have entered the final year of my Phd, and prepare to embark on an independent career, understanding the intricacies of grant applications, the review process, and available resources at the NIH is paramount. The first-hand experiences and success stories in securing funding provided a roadmap that I can leverage as I venture into the next phase of my research journey.

Poster Sessions and Collaborations

The poster sessions at this conference were a vibrant showcase of cutting-edge research, featured a wide array of research topics, spanning from Single Cell Omics to Functional Genomics. The diversity of projects on display exposed me to a broad spectrum of computational biology research. This exposure was invaluable as it broadened my understanding of the field and inspired new perspectives on my own work.

I have presented my work: Stator, a novel model-independent method to identify cell states by quantifying higher-order interactions among genes during the poster session. It was a rewarding experience as I was able to talk with fellow researchers, established professionals, and even those outside my specific subfield, and received lots of constructive feedback. These interactions not only helped refine my research but also opened avenues for potential collaborations and interdisciplinary discussions.

Acknowledgement

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance (SICSA) for providing the funding that made my attendance at the 2023 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Conference on Genome Informatics possible.

SICSA funding allowed student to attend the 14th ACM Symposium on Cloud Computing in Santa Cruz, USA

By Tong Xing

16 November 2023

As a third-year PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, I recently had the chance of participating in the 14th ACM Symposium on Cloud Computing in Santa Cruz, USA. This event proved to be an extraordinary journey, filled with learning and networking opportunities.

Presenting My Research 

One of the highlights of the conference trip was the presentation of my work, “Maximizing VMs’ IO Performance on Overcommitted CPUs with Fairness.” Sharing my findings with a knowledgeable audience provided invaluable feedback and perspectives, enhancing the depth of my research.

Learning from Peers

The symposium was a melting pot of ideas, with leading researchers from the field of cloud computing presenting cutting-edge studies. These presentations offered a wealth of new insights, outlining current trends and future directions in both industrial and academic areas. The exposure to such pioneering work was not only educational but also inspirational.

Networking and Discussions

One of the most enriching aspects of the conference was the opportunity to meet professionals and academics from various countries and esteemed institutions. Engaging in discussions on diverse research topics, I sought advice for my future topic and shared viewpoints upon different research directions, which was incredibly stimulating. The chance to step outside my usual social and academic circles to exchange ideas with such a varied group was both enlightening and exhilarating.

Gratitude and Reflection 

This experience, generously supported by SICSA, was more than just an academic exercise. It was a journey of personal and professional growth. The knowledge gained, the new friendships formed, and the diverse perspectives encountered have profoundly motivated me to pursue my research with renewed vigor.

SICSA Supporting the Launch of the Edinburgh University School of Informatics Computer Science Education Group

By Cristina Adriana Alexandru and Felipe Costa Sperb

14 November 2024

On the 4th of October 2023, a team of academics from the University of Edinburgh, led by Felipe Costa Sperb and Cristina Adriana Alexandru, launched the School of Informatics Computer Science Education (CSE) Group. This event, sponsored and endorsed by SICSA, aimed to enhance the visibility of the group, attract prospective members, initiate conversations on Computer Science Education topics, and create opportunities for networking.
The CSE Group has the mission to inspire and to bring together staff and students with an interest in Computer Science Education from the University of Edinburgh, as well as from other universities in the UK and beyond. The aims of the CSE group are:

  • To enhance knowledge and practice of Computer Science Education by keeping abreast of advancements in this field;
  • To guide teaching practice by sharing practical experience and research evidence from the Computer Science Education community;
  • To conduct research linking pedagogical theory and advancements with evidence-informed practice;
  • To engage and collaborate with other related groups in the University of Edinburgh, in the UK and more widely;
  • To disseminate research and findings from practice to impact Computer Science Education in the University of Edinburgh and beyond.

The launch event was organised as a mini-conference style. The agenda was as follows:

  • 10:45 AM – Opening note: Welcome and Introduction to the CSE Group, by Felipe Costa Sperb (University of Edinburgh)
  • 11:00 AM – Keynote presentation: Evaluating the Sense of Belonging of Undergraduate Computing Students in the UK and Ireland – An Invitation to Collaborate, by Catherine Mooney (University College Dublin), Brett Becker (University College Dublin), and Fiona Mcneill (University of Edinburgh)
  • 12:00 PM – CSE presentation: Providing Students Opportunities to Learn about Accessibility and Designing for Inclusion, by Aurora Constantin (University of Edinburgh)
  • 12:40 PM – Closing note: Membership of the CSE group, Closing Notes and Discussion, by Cristina Alexandru (University of Edinburgh)
  • 1:00 PM – Closing celebration: Networking Reception and Lunch

The organisers are thrilled to report that the launch event of the CSE group was a success. It yielded several noteworthy outcomes, each contributing to the advancement of the group’s mission and impact. The event registration page attracted substantial interest, resulting in a large number of registrations and attendance not only by peers affiliated to the University of Edinburgh, but also from other distinguished universities in the UK and Ireland, including University of Glasgow, University of Strathclyde, University of St Andrews, University College Dublin, and Technological University Dublin. This extensive network expansion has opened up exciting opportunities for research collaboration, dissemination and knowledge exchange, fortifying the CSE Group’s standing in the academic community. It also led to the doubling of the group’s membership (originally consisting of the organisers and a few colleagues from the School of Informatics), and the welcoming of the group’s first associate member intake coming from the University of Strathclyde, the University of Glasgow, and University College Dublin. This increase in membership highlights the appeal and relevance of the group’s initiatives and activities. The Keynote Session showcased successful research in Computer Science Education, providing valuable practical insights for peers embarking on research in this field. It also served as a call to action for evaluating student sense of belonging in higher education. Finally, the event had a significant impact on promoting awareness of the pivotal role that Computer Science plays in improving accessibility and inclusivity in education and the workplace.

The organisers are very grateful for SICSA’s considerable support and endorsement! Following the success of the launch event, the CSE group has been very active in planning an exciting future to keep advancing on its mission and aims. Key initiatives include the implementation of a regular schedule of Teaching Hours events (featuring talks from CSE group members and guest speakers on different Computer Science Education topics), members’ meetings (to provide members with a space to foster networking, knowledge exchange, and opportunities to get involved in advancing the group’s mission), and the formation of research sub-groups based on the different research interests of our members.

If you would like to learn more about the CSE group or become a member to join us in sharing knowledge and practice, inspiring and shaping the future of Computer Science Education, get in touch with us at: lcostas@ed.ac.uk

SICSA opening doors for open education research

by Vidminas Vizgirda
6 November 2023

For a week in October 2023, I travelled to Edmonton (Amiskwacîwâskahikan in Cree, one of the indigenous languages, meaning “Beaver Hills House”) in Canada to attend the GO-GN 10th anniversary workshop and the Open Education Global 2023 conference.

GO-GN (Global OER Graduate Network; Celebrate 10 years of GO-GN! | GO-GN) is a support network of PhD students, alumni, and supervisors researching fields related to open education. The OE Global Conference 2023 – Building a Sustainable World through Open Education is an annual event bringing together educators, policy makers, advocates, researchers and students to talk about open education – with topics like public sharing of educational resources, removing barriers for access to education, and decolonising curricula, there are always lots of great presentations and workshops! This year’s themes were two-eyed seeing and braiding: what can Western cultures learn from indigenous ways of knowing and how can we benefit from seeing the world from both Western and indigenous perspectives?

At the conference, I organised an “action lab” (interactive workshop) titled “Reinvent the Wheel or Find the Needle? Technology for Addressing Resource Reusability Barriers”. We discussed a competition between “reinventing the wheel” (making new educational materials from scratch) faster using generative artificial intelligence versus “finding the needle in a haystack” (reusing existing educational materials) faster using user-centred design and information theory, and some ideas how we could address the latter with adjustments to major search engines.

OE Global was a wonderful venue to make new connections and open doors for potential future collaborations. Attending the conferencing so far from home was only possible by piecing together multiple sources of funding and I am very grateful to SICSA, GO-GN, and the University of Edinburgh ILCC and IGS travel funds for their help in making it happen!