School of Computer Science

Weekly Newsletter

24h April 2006


News from HoS

This Week

School Events

External Events

Funding Opps

Prize & Award Opps

Research Awards

Staff News




Newsletter Archive

School Strategy

School Intranet

School Seminars

ESNW Seminars

NaCTeM Seminars


News from Head of School

CS-Informatics Review

As you know, an ‘Implementation Group’ has been meeting for some time to advise the University on how the conclusions of the External Review of CS and Informatics should be carried forward.  A marathon final meeting of the Group took place last Friday, and the report to the Deans of EPS and Humanities is now complete, bar a few final edits.  It would be inappropriate for me to discuss the detail at this stage, but I am optimistic that the outcome will be a more sustainable future for CS, with a resolution of the problems of overlap with Informatics that we (and they) have experienced for the past two years.  Several options (with important features in common) are presented in the report, together with pros and cons.  I believe that any of these would be acceptable to CS, though some would be more desirable than others.  The timetable agreed with the Deans involves a firm decision as to which option will be adopted, significantly before the end of May, followed by rapid implementation over the following few months.  I hope to be able to share more detail with you in the near future.

Research Distribution

Now some not-so-good news.  We have been in discussion with the Faculty regarding our predicted deficit for the current financial year.  Unfortunately, we are not the only School predicting a larger than planned deficit, and pressure has been placed on all Schools to reduce their expenditure.  There is very little slack at this stage in the financial year, but most Schools have not yet made their research incentive distribution, so this has been targeted as an opportunity to reduce the net overspend for the Faculty.  Schools, like ours, which are seriously in deficit, have been ‘asked’ to suspend the distribution totally for this year, and we have had to agree (reluctantly).  Having discussed this with the professors, it is clear that the most worrying consequence is the potential effect on PhD student conference attendance.  Whilst it would be prudent to concentrate resources on the leading conferences, it would be unfair to students, and against the long-term interests of the School, for financial constraints to limit the number of conference submissions or to prevent students from presenting their own work.  We are looking urgently at ways of dealing with this problem but, in the mean time, please try to protect your students; in cases where this is virtually impossible, please let Carmel know the situation.

Research Grant Applications

At the professors meeting just before Easter, we discussed ways of increasing School income.  Research income is an obvious target, so we pulled out some figures to allow us to assess, realistically, the room for improvement.  The results should, I believe, give us all pause for thought.  First, only around 50% of our academic staff hold a grant of any description as PI.  Even more worrying, only 35% of staff submitted a grant proposal as PI within the past year.  The target in our School plan is for each research active member of staff to be responsible for around two RAs (FTE’s if they are shared).  This is a rather modest target for anyone who wishes to be research active, and achieving it would not place the School particularly high in national league tables.  It is clear that even this target cannot be achieved on the back of such low application rates.  Although the figures might look superficially better if we included involvement as CI, it is a reasonable expectation that everyone should contribute by taking the lead for a proportion of the proposals in which they are involved.  Our 2006/7 School Plan sets the following short-term (process) targets: significant research funding applications (as PI) from 90% of academic staff; proportion of staff holding grants (as PI) 75%.  It is not explicit in the current version of the plan that this means as PI, but that was (necessarily) the intention.  It is clear that we need to take drastic action – this involves ALL academic and senior research staff either as individuals or as line-managers.  I count myself as one of those who has taken their eye off the ball in this respect.

CS Event Organised by CEEBL

Thanks to everyone who attended the enquiry-based learning event organised for the School last week by the Centre of Excellence in EBL.  I was disappointed that the over-run of the Implementation Group meeting meant that I could not be there from the beginning, but there was a very good turnout, and the consensus seemed to be that the event was worthwhile, and that some parts of it were extremely good.  I suggest that providing Graham and Roger with more detailed feedback would be useful since, by default, we are likely to ask CEEBL to organise events for us again in the future.


Events this Week                                                               top

The Utility of Points as Primitives for Graphics and Modeling  New 26 Apr 06                                                                                                                                               

Professor Markus Gross, ETH Zurich

1415 – 1515, Kilburn Lecture Theatre 1.5

More Information

Globalisation, Knowledge and the New Economy New                         27 Apr 06

Prof Susan Robertson, University of Bristol

14.00-15.00, 1.10 Kilburn Building

More Information

Maximising Potential New                                                                               28 Apr 06

Sandra Smethurst,

She has empowered the lives of individuals by inspiring, motivating & challenging them to have total belief in themselves, and has opened a £3m Health & Wellbeing Centre for teenagers in N Manchester – the first of its kind in the UK

1000 –1400 Main Lecture Theatre, MMU Business School, Aytoun Building

Register to attend by email to Lorraine Joseph

Virtual Environments and Interactive 3D New                                           28 Apr 06

Prof. Bob Stone, University of Birmingham

1400 – 1500, ESNW Access Grid, Room 1.10, Kilburn Building

More Information

Regular Seminar Series

See links in contents bar for information on seminar series organised by the School of CS, E-Science North West and National Centre for Text Mining.


Future School Events                                                        top

ESNW Technical meeting                                                                                2 May 06

You are invited to attend a technical meeting organised by ESNW where we will discuss service-level agreement (SLA) terms for a wide range of resource types including AccessGrid, compute services and network services.  We would like a few volunteers to give 10-15 min presentations. If you are interested contact Dean Kuo.  A wiki has been set up for the topics that will be discussed at these meetings

1400 – 1700, Room 1.10 Kilburn Building (ESNW AG Room)

BCS/IEE Accreditation Visit  New                                                           17-18 May 06

Those who will definitely need to be involved should already know and have these dates in their diaries, but could all staff involved in teaching please note the dates and try to ensure they will be available if required. PLEASE NOTE there was a misunderstanding over dates and this was originally advertised as taking place on the 18 – 19 May.

Research Retreat                                                                                       29-30 Jun 06

Palace Hotel, Buxton

Programme under development, input welcomed (email Ursula)


Future External Events                                                      top

GoTag: Assigning Gene Ontology Labels to Medline New                    21 Apr 06

Professor Robert Gaizauskas, Computer Science, University of Sheffield

1400 – 1500, C024 lecture theatre, MSS Building

More Information

Creating e-Learning Strategies in Schools New                                       25 Apr 06

An opportunity to discuss e-Learning strategies with colleagues from other Schools, and Faculty Learning Enhancement Officers.

Pat Bailey, AD for Teaching & Learning: Introduction to e-learning in the Faculty

Callum Kidd, MACE: A distance learning MSc in Project Management.

1200 – 1345, B4 Council Chamber, Sackville Street

Email EPS-TSU to book (at least 2 days in advance for catering purposes).

eProtein Scientific Meeting and Workshop                                         24-26 Apr 06

EMBL-EBI, Imperial College London (IC) and University College London (UCL), are delighted to invite you to attend a one-day scientific meeting on Protein and Genome Annotations on 24th April.  The meeting will be held on the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus at Hinxton and is funded by the UK Department of Trade and Industry, BBSRC and the BioSapiens EU Project.

More Information and Registration

OPEN MEETING ON eLEARNING                                                               10 May 06

You are invited to an Open Meeting on eLearning on Wednesday 10 May 2006, at which Professor Bob Munn, Vice-President for Teaching and Learning, will make a brief presentation and respond to questions about current initiatives to enhance e-learning.  Full details

Ask the President                                                                                              5 May 06

All staff are being invited to submit questions for an interview with President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Alan Gilbert which will be broadcast on the web next month (May).  Questions can be submitted in advance via e-mail to (type `President's Webcast' in the subject line), by internal mail using the form published on page 3 of this month's edition of Staff Update or in person to the Internal Communications Office, Beyer Building (staff may remain anonymous if they wish).  The deadline for submissions is 5 May.

Lunchtime Yoga Classes                                                                       Tues & Thurs

Karon Mee

People have been practicing yoga for over 3, 000 years. The benefits of practice can be experienced on many levels, physical and spiritual. A healthy spine, improvement to physical health and body awareness in general is experienced through asana (postures), while calmness of the mind and improved use of the respiratory system are effects of meditation and breath awareness.  Classes are non-competitive and suitable for all levels.  Do not eat at least an hour prior to class. UMSA members £1.50; non-UMSA £2.00 per class

1200 – 1300 Tuesdays, 1310 – 1400 Thursdays, Staff House


Funding Opportunities                                                       top

BBSRC International Scientific Interchange Scheme (ISIS)                         Open

BBSRC's International Scientific Interchange Scheme (ISIS) provides support to help scientists make and establish new contacts with their international counterparts. Funding is available to BBSRC grantholders, and researchers working on BBSRC-supported projects at BBSRC-sponsored Institutes for travel and subsistence for three main types of visit. The scheme is open to bids at any time (at least 6 weeks before travel) with payments being made in advance of any visits. Please note BBSRC-supported students are not eligible to travel under ISIS support.

More Information

Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Awards                                      27 Apr 06

Jointly funded by the Wolfson Foundation and the Office of Science and Technology, this scheme aims to give universities additional support to attract key researchers, with great potential or outstanding achievement, to this country or to retain those who might seek to gain higher salaries elsewhere.  The focus of the award is salary enhancement. Research expenses are also considered for research costs not suitable for Research Councils research grants applications and for overseas applicants to support integration into the UK research and funding environment.

More Information

Wellcome Trust Equipment Grants                                                          Apr/May 06

The Wellcome Trust consider applications for multi-user items of equipment, including equipment required to create a central resource for a number of disparate scientific programmes.  The maximum amount awarded is £1 million. It is expected that applications will include a contribution from the university, or other source, proportional to the total request.  Applications for less than £10 000 will not normally be considered under this scheme. Small, project-dedicated items of equipment can, however, form part of a project, programme or fellowship application.

More Information

RAEng Industrial Secondment Scheme                                                            Open

The Industrial Secondment Scheme provides an invaluable opportunity for university lecturers in engineering to gain state-of-the-art industrial experience.
Applicable to engineers of all disciplines, the Scheme's objective is to enable the secondees to impart the fruits of this experience to their students through teaching, through case studies using up-to-date material and, in the longer term, through course design. The benefits also accrue to the host organisation which gains a temporary but highly qualified member of staff, and to the university which has the opportunity of strengthening its links with industry. The Scheme provides funding for the university to employ a temporary replacement for the secondee. In this way it minimises the effects on the normal flow of teaching, and makes it easier for universities to release members of staff for secondment. The Scheme has also been well received by industry, and many organisations have indicated a willingness to offer places to engineering academics: where possible The Royal Academy of Engineering helps in the 'matchmaking process'.

More Information

RAEng Global Research Awards                                                                        Open

Global Research Awards provide an opportunity for engineers currently engaged in research and development to undertake projects in centres of excellence overseas. Projects should focus on activities which could help stimulate wealth creation and improvements in the quality of life, supporting the international development of research networks and encouraging the uptake of globally competitive technology in the UK.

More Information


Prize and Award Opportunities                                          top

We have acknowledged the need to raise the profile of the School both nationally and internationally.  Nominating individuals for awards, and working actively with others to ensure that deserving individuals are nominated is one way of doing that.

IBM Eclipse Innovation Award program 2006                                          28 Apr 06

IBM is pleased to announce the 2006 IBM Eclipse Innovation Award program, an international award competition designed to encourage the use of open source and open standards-based tools for academic curricula and research. Qualified faculty and researchers may submit proposals for work with applications in teaching, research or community building around Eclipse.

More Information

René Descartes Prizes                                                                                    4 May 06

The European Commission is inviting proposals under its framework 6 science and society programme for Rene Descartes prizes. These are to recognise excellence in research and science communication. Prizes for research will be at least 200000 euros each, and projects must include legal entities from 2 different member or associated states, and include at least one member state or associated candidate country.

More Information

The IEEE Richard W. Hamming Medal                                                           1 Jul 06

The IEEE Richard W. Hamming Medal was established by the Board of Directors in 1986 'for exceptional contributions to information sciences, systems and technology.' The award is named in honour of Dr. Richard W. Hamming, who has had a central role in the development of computer and computing science, and whose many significant contributions in the area of information science include his error-correcting codes.  Recipient selection is administered by the IEEE Medals Council through the IEEE Awards Board.  It may be presented to an individual or group, up to three in number.  The award consists of a gold medal, bronze replica, certificate, and honorarium.

More Information

The IEEE John von Neumann Medal                                                             1 Jul 06

The IEEE John von Neumann Medal was established by the Board of Directors in 1990 and may be presented annually 'for outstanding achievements in computer-related science and technology.' The achievements may be theoretical, technological, or entrepreneurial, and need not have been made immediately prior to the date of the award.  Recipient selection is administered through the IEEE Medals Council of the IEEE Awards Board.  It may be presented to an individual or group, up to two in number.  The award consists of a gold medal, bronze replica, certificate and honorarium.

More Information


Research Awards                                                               top

Meeting the Design Challenges of Nano-CMOS Electronics

Funding Body: EPSRC
PI: Steve Furber
Award Amount: £578,561

Self-timed Datapath Synthesis (SEDATE)

Funding Body: EPSRC
PI: Doug Edwards
Award Amount: £521,999

Statistical Learning with General Proximity Measures

Funding Body: EPSRC
PI: Elzbieta Pekalska
Award Amount: £210,707


Staff News                                                                           top

Awards and Promotions

None this week

Academic Arrivals

None this week

Academic Departures

None this week

Research Arrivals

None this week

Research Departures

None this week

Administrative Arrivals

None this week

Administrative Departures

None this week

Sabbatical Leave

Andrei Voronkov: Microsoft Research, Redmond USA
Aug 05 – Aug 06.

Ian Horrocks: University of Bozen-Bolzano, Bell Labs, and Stanford University
Feb 06 – Sep 06.

Peter Aczel: Nijmegen University, and Maths Institute at the University of Munich
Jan 06 – Sep 06.

Alasdair Rawsthorne: 80% secondment to Transitive Technologies
Oct 05 – Sep 06.

Alvaro Fernandes: IBM Almaden Research Centre US
Jul – Dec 06.


Vacancies                                                                            top

Academic Staff


Research Staff


Administrative Staff