School of Computer Science

Weekly Newsletter

 14 October 2013


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News from the Head of School

EPSRC Doctoral Prize awards

Joe Mellor and Samantha Bail have been awarded 2013 EPSRC Doctoral Prize awards. This prestigious EPSRC scheme provides funding for a year to "help universities retain and recruit the best PhD students receiving EPSRC support to increase the impact of their PhD, and to improve retention of the very best students in research careers." 

BCS dissertation prize

Manchester graduate Dr Adam Pocock has been awarded the British Computer Society Distinguished Dissertation Award 2013 for the best PhD dissertation in Computer Science.


Adam’s thesis, "Feature Selection via Joint Likelihood" focused on the problem of identifying relevant and irrelevant variables in statistical machine learning problems.  His work resulted in a unification of 20 years of publications in the area of information theoretic feature selection, showing how each method is a special case of one single principle. He was supervised by Gavin Brown and Mikel Lujan.


Adam is now a researcher at Oracle Labs in the Information Retrieval and Machine Learning group in Burlington, Massachusetts. He is working on developing fast, parallel Bayesian inference algorithms for GPUs and distributed systems, and on applying statistical NLP to extract information from the large quantities of text available in data warehouses, or from social media.


Adam said "I'm really surprised and pleased to have won this award, its an amazing end to my 8 years spent at Manchester, through a BSc, MSc and a PhD. I wouldn't have managed without the help and support from my friends in the lab, the staff in CS and especially my supervisors Gavin and Mikel."


Manchester PhD students have won the prize two years in a row, and four times altogether.


EPSRC’s Science photograph competition opens on 16th October, if you have any great images of science then have a go!

Frank Sumner

Prof Frank Sumner died on Monday 30th September. His funeral will be at 1:30pm on Wednesday 23rd at Reading Crematorium. There is a card in ACSO for anyone to sign if they wish.


Frank was a founder member of the team that set up the CS Department during the 1960s and he was a Director of the Computer Centre following the retirement of Prof Black.


The Computer Conservation Society’s Committee will be writing an obituary for the CCS’s bulletin.  If anyone in has any anecdotes or facts about Frank that they consider important, they’d be eager to have them. If you have any facts or if you would like to contribute please contact either Simon Lavington or Jim Miles.


Announcements and news

The Human Brain Project                                                                                             

D Lester HBP Portugal 2013 cropped.JPG


The Human Brain Project (HBP) has started! HBP is a 10-year, billion pound neuroscience project involving scientists from 135 institutions, including Manchester, which aims to revolutionise our understanding of the human brain.

Steve Furber and Dave Lester attended the project's inauguration event last week in Lausanne, Switzerland and featured on the BBC and on the News at Ten (7 Oct).

NaCTeM success at BioCreative IV

BioCreative: Critical Assessment of Information Extraction in Biology is a community-wide effort for evaluating text mining and information extraction systems applied to the biological domain. NaCTeM participated in the 4th of these challenges, which took place from October 7th-9th 2013 in Bethesda, Maryland, USA.


BioCreative IV consists of several tasks (or tracks), and NaCTeM's systems outperformed other participating systems in a number of these tracks. The Comparative Toxicogenomics Database (CTD) track involved recognising 4 concept types: chemicals, genes, diseases and action terms. The NaCTeM team achieved the best results among 12 participating teams in both the recognition of chemicals and genes.


In terms of combined performance of the recognition of all 4 concept types, NaCTeM also ranked highest. In another track, Chemical and Drug Named Entity Recognition (CHEMDNER), NaCTeM was ranked 1st out of 23 teams participating in the Chemical Document Indexing (CDI) subtask.



School seminar                                                                                               16 Oct 13

The Human Brain Project and SpiNNaker

13:30, lecture theatre 1.4, Kilburn building.

Prof Steve Furber, The University of Manchester

This month saw the launch of the EU ICT Flagship Human Brain Project, an ambitious €1B programme to unlock the secrets of the human brain. At Manchester, we are bringing the SpiNNaker brain-modelling platform to the HBP. SpiNNaker has been 15 years in conception and 7 years in construction, developed with EPSRC funding, and is perfectly positioned to support significant aspects of the HBP agenda. In this seminar I will outline the HBP and describe SpiNNaker and its role in the HBP.

University’s Foundation Day Lecture                                                       16 Oct 13

Drinks Reception: 16:00, University Place

Foundation Lecture: 16:30, University Place

The Lecture will end at 17:45.


The President and Vice-Chancellor would like to invite as many members of staff as possible from across the University to attend this occasion.


The 2013 Foundation Lecture will be delivered by Professor Mario Molina, best known for his study on the effect on Earth’s upper atmosphere of man-made compounds.  The title of the lecture is: “Climate Change: Science and Policy”.


There are also a number of places available to attend the Foundation Day Honorary Degree Ceremony which follows the Lecture.


Honorary Degree Ceremony: 18:15, Whitworth Hall


Honorary Degrees will be conferred upon :-

Sir Bobby Charlton

Professor Peter Higgs

Professor Mario Molina

Ms Frances O’Grady


Unfortunately, there are a limited number of tickets available so tickets have to be allocated on a first come, first served basis. 

If you are interested in attending one or both elements of the Foundation Day celebrations, please request a ticket by emailing Lesley Sisson.

Faculty of EPS open meeting                                                                      23 Oct 13

13-14:00, Rutherford Lecture Theatre, Schuster Building.


All members of staff in the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences are invited to attend a Faculty Open Meeting with Professor Colin Bailey, the Vice-President & Dean.


At the meeting Colin will give an update on the Faculty’s current position followed by an open question and answer session on any matters of interest. There is no need to submit questions in advance of the meeting.


All are welcome. Seats will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.


Funding Opportunities

Research Support Office

Please contact us through

There is information about support for grant writing and submission at and the EPS blog The Word contains features News, Events and comment relevant to Postgraduate Researchers, Research Staff and Supervisors or PIs.

Important H2020 EU Funding Opportunities

Information sessions and draft documents are becoming available for Horizon2020 (the successor of FP7 EU programme). EU research funding is important for the School so please keep an eye out for information – calls are expected to open at the end of the year.

ERC calls 2014                                                                                                   Various

We have some indicative deadline dates for ERC calls in 2014:

Starting Grants: end of March 2014

Consolidator Grants: end of May 2014

Advanced Grants: end of October 2014

Proof of Concept: early April 2014 and early October 2014

Synergy Grants: no call in 2014


Please note that these dates could still change. Full information is expected in Dec 2013.

REMINDER Information Session on ICT-related calls                          22 Oct 13

·         Event: 22 Oct 2013, 10.30-12.00, MIB Lecture Theatre

·         1:1 meetings: 22 Oct 2013, between 1 and 3pm, B1c Sackville Street


Craig Sharp - one of the UK National Contact Points (NCP) for the Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies (LEIT) - covering the areas of Information and Communication Technologies, Nanotechnologies, Advanced Materials, Production Technologies, Biotechnology and Space Technologies will be visiting the University on 22 Oct to discuss EU funding opportunities under this part of the Horizon 2020 Programme.


1.    Register for the information session (formal presentation, including an open Q&A).

2.    Email Liz Fay for 1:1 meetings with Craig (1pm-3pm). Each meeting slot will be for 20 minutes and places are limited (first come first served).

Please indicate which part of the programme you wish to discuss with Craig and, where possible, provide information on the progress of any proposals already underway.


The focus of the presentation will be on the NMP area of the draft work programme – the most recent DRAFT work programme is attached. Please take a look - the School has overlap with a lot of these areas:

REMINDER Impact Acceleration Account (IAA)                                     23 Oct 13

·         Closing date: noon 23 Oct 2013

EPSRC has awarded The University of Manchester over £3.2M to deliver an Impact Acceleration Account (IAA), which runs from 2012-15 for knowledge exchange based on EPSRC research (following on from the Knowledge Transfer Account).
The 4th call for proposals is now open for:

·         Relationship Incubation (up to £10k available) Engaging with businesses and business communities to sow the seeds of new collaboration and enhance strategic engagement

·         Concept Development and Feasibility Studies (up to £30k available) Support for the very early stages of transforming research outputs into commercial opportunities

·         Exploitation Secondments (up to £60k available) Flexible support for secondments between The University of Manchester and businesses and other organisations





Both Simon Harper and Sean Bechhofer have been successful in previous calls.

DE2013: Open Digital Event at Media City                                               28 Oct 13

·         Registration deadline: 28 Oct 2013

·         Event: 4-6 Nov 2013, MediaCityUK, Salford


Good opportunity to network…Industry and universities will be attending this event, including the BBC and other local companies. Registration is available for a single day or for the whole event (£95-£320). Remember… the School has funding available for making links with research funders subject to feeding-back to the School. Contact Robert Stevens/ Sarah Chatwin for more information.

MICRA Seedcorn call – funding for interdisciplinary research in ageing

                                                                                                                            02 Dec 13

·         Closing date: 2 Dec 2013


The Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing (MICRA) have up to £6K available for multi-disciplinary proposals explicitly related to ageing. A maximum of 8 projects will receive funding. Previous successful applicants have been drawn from across a variety of disciplines.

For more information see attached:


Research Professional is a useful search engine for finding other funding opportunities.


Have we missed something? If you have some award news that you would like us to know about please contact Sarah Chatwin.