Teams were “Up up and away” at Moray Game Jam

By UHI Moray

28 March 2024


Moray Game Jam returned for its seventh year in March with teams from across Scotland creating board and video games to the theme of Up Up and Away.

The annual game jam which started in 2014 by UHI Moray aims brings together gaming enthusiasts from across the country, industry leaders and educators for 48-hours of creativity with years event seeing 16 teams compete for not only the Judges Choice but to be selected as the People’s Choice.
The Jam started at 12noon on Friday 15th March with the announcement of the theme given by UHI Moray Principal – David Patterson. Teams were also introduced to the judges panel – formed of members from various fields within the gaming industry- who spoke to, supported, and mentored the teams throughout the weekend. The 2024 judges were:

  • Laura Cress Gaming and Technology Journalist and Streamer
  • Andrew Mulholland Director of Hunted Cow Games
  • Martin Thomas CTO at Code Wizards
  • Brian Baglow the Founder the Director of Scottish Games Network and Scottish Games Week
  • Christopher Acornley, Computing Lecturer at UHI Perth

Friday also saw a National Games Strategy workshop take place to gather feedback and thoughts from those within the games industry about the new Government initiative.
Saturday the competition continued with teams busy developing their games while industry veterans hosted a series of workshops welcoming over 20 people:

  • An Introduction to 3D Modelling using Blender with Finlay MacDonald, Developer at Code Wizards
  • How your game jam can make you a millionaire with Brian Baglow, Founder of Scottish Games Network and Scottish Games Week
  • Rules are Fun with Gary Groves an AI researcher at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS)

A much-loved highlight of the event Pizza night provided the teams a much-needed break and catch up on Saturday night before they prepared for the final 17 hours of the jam.

Sunday brought the end of the competition with judging taking place throughout the morning and into the afternoon during the Gaming Playground. The playground which is open to the public was attended by apporx.150 people with many families having the chance to test out the games and vote for their People Choice Award with the judges and Richard Lochhead – Minister of Small Business, Trade and Innovation- presenting the winners with their awards.

Winners included first timers and UHI Moray students, The Waffle Crew and Game Jam veterans Openly Game Men.

The Waffle Crew whose Board Game Mission Launch captured the publics heart earned them the coveted Board Games People’s Choice were delighted with their win stating “The gaming playground was also very rewarding, we had lots of kids come to play our game and they were all enjoying it so much. It felt nice that all our hard work was being appreciated.”
Openly Game Men saw double success winning their first Video Game win and second Video Game People’s Choice Award. Michael Brown one of two programmers for the team spoke highly of Moray Game Jam stating “Moray Game Jam is an event I look forward to every year; it is always well-managed, and a lot of effort is put into making sure those who take part are well looked after. The event also offers talks, workshops and valuable networking opportunities.”

A full list of the winners are:
• Board Game Winners: No Loading Required
• Video Game Winners and People’s Choice: Openly Game Men
• Board Game Runner-Up: ENT Games
• Video Game Runner-Up: Frozen Well
• Board Game People’s Choice: The Waffle Crew

You can learn more about Moray Game Jam and keep an eye on next years dates at

SICSA Research Scholar funding supported PhD student, Andrew, to attend the SoRAIM Winter School in France this month.

By Andrew Blair

29 February 2024


My name is Andrew Blair, and I am a first year PhD Student in Computing Science at the University of
Glasgow. My research seeks to explore how we can facilitate human-robot interaction through
dialogue in public spaces. More specifically, I seek to overcome the limitations of speech recognition
in noisy environments, by using a combination of novel hardware and software techniques.
The SoRAIM Winter School was organised by the SPRING Horizon 2020 project. This is a consortium
of universities across Europe & partner countries working to develop an assistive robot to be
deployed within a hospital in France. The winter school seeks to cover the domain of Social Robotics
& Artificial Intelligence, and since both are key aspects of my research, I decided to apply for the
school and was accepted. The speakers included the researchers working as part of the SPRING
project as well as external invited academics. The plenary sessions were very closely aligned with my
research. Topics such as ‘Speaker Localization’ and ‘Autonomous Robots: From the lab into the wild’
were very informative, and seeing the difficulties faced when taking robots outside of a controlled
environment highlighted the wide range of factors that need to be considered when doing such

A poster session was held where I had the opportunity to present my preliminary work and to be
able to discuss it with my peers and academics alike. These discussions have inspired me to explore
new directions and resulted in potential collaborations with other researchers working in the same
area. I also had the opportunity to participate in two hands-on workshops on the final day; detailing
how to integrate LLMs into chatbots and speaker extraction from multi-person audio. Both of these
sessions were really useful as they solidified the theoretical knowledge we were given earlier in the

I would like to thank SICSA for supporting my attendance at the winter school. It has allowed me to
connect with not only leading researchers in my field but also fellow PhD students and early career
researchers, and these new relationships will help me in the future. I hope to take what I
have learned and put into use throughout the rest of my doctoral research.

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

Our 2024 SICSA PhD Conference will run from 9th to 10th of July this year at the University of Aberdeen. (With a Bootcamp on 8th July). We will also arrange accommodation for all attendees.

If you are a PhD student, please complete our Workshop Topics form to help us choose the most relevant workshops and key speakers for you. You can also join our organising committee.

We look forward to hearing from you.


‘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


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.


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.


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.


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.