School of Computer Science

Weekly Newsletter

27 January 2014


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News from Head of School

Champagne party to celebrate Carole Goble’s CBE                        31 Jan 14

There will be a Champagne reception at 3:00pm on Friday 31st January in the Staff Common Room to celebrate Carole Goble’s CBE. All staff are invited.


New staff in the CSIS Team

Rowan Wilson has joined Mike Keeeley’s CSIS team as a Senior IS Officer. Rowan will provide IS support for research in the School and will initially be supporting the School’s Computer Policy Advisory Group (CPAG) as it reviews research infrastructure and support.

Anne Ssuuna will join the team as an IT Support Analyst, as a replacement for Steve Rhodes (who is now based in the Tootill Labs supporting teaching).


New Web Officer

Philip Wolstenholme has joined the Faculty Web team to support the School’s web pages. Phil will be basing himself in Kilburn room 2.83 (Iain Hart’s office) and will be available between 10 and 5pm to provide advice or information and provide help making changes.


If you would like to meet and discuss anything with Phil you can book a meeting using the following doodle:


Simple issues with the Computer Science website should be sent directly to to raise a support request or via


Ongoing strike action

UCU have announced a series of 2-hour strikes:


Tuesday 28 January 2pm-4pm

Monday 10 February, 9am-11am


Whilst recognising the rights of individual members of staff to take strike action, it is the University’s intention to endeavour to maintain normal operations in order to safeguard the interests of students and also of staff and other stakeholders.


Therefore, unless you will be on strike yourself you should expect to work normally. It is possible that there may be some picket lines on the campus. The purpose of any picket line is to pass on information - in a peaceful manner - about the reason for the strike action. We expect all pickets to behave in a respectful way to their colleagues who are attending work. Refusal or failure to cross a picket line is not an acceptable reason for a day’s absence.


It is important that the School responds to this in a collegial manner and that all staff recognise the rights of other staff to participate in the strike or not to participate according to their own opinions and conscience.


In the event that lectures, labs or seminars need to be cancelled as a consequence of the strike action, Schools have been instructed by the University to provide an early and clear communication to affected students, including details of when any lectures or seminars, for example, will be reorganised and rescheduled.

If you do plan to be on strike then it would be helpful for everyone who may be directly affected to know about this in advance.


In particular please will you be considerate to students - if you will be striking and any student activities or teaching will be affected, please will you inform all of the students concerned in advance.  You could inform the students directly without informing the School, or you could inform the appropriate Director of UG, PGT or PGR (Toby Howard, Uli Sattler or Jon Shapiro) who will then inform the students who will be affected.


Similarly if you are involved in any activities with other staff or outside organisations that will be affected, please consider them when you decide whether or not to inform them of your intention to strike.


There is no legal obligation upon individuals to give any prior notification of their intention to strike, and UCU is sending its own advice to their members on this issue.


Following each strike I will be asking all staff in the School to inform me if they were on strike. Anyone who does not inform me will be assumed not to have been on strike. If you were on strike then pay will be deducted according to the duration of the strike, assuming a 7-hour working day and 260 working days per year.


womENcourage 2014 Registration is open                                                    


Encourage all your students to come to womENcourage 2014 Celebration of Women in Computing! The registration is now open and can be found at

womENcourage is the first conference organised in Europe by the newly-
formed committee of ACM-Women Europe. We are lucky to have this unique
event in Manchester and you cannot miss it.

There is a very exciting programme, including: a poster exhibition, an
unconference and a red chair to "sit with me" (
People from 25 different countries are planning to come. You cannot miss
the career fair held the previous day to the conference.

Join students, industry professionals, academics, and other leaders in
computing and engineering to promote networking and technical discussions.
The registration for this conference is free for all participants. Both
women and men are invited to attend and participate.

Please, contact Eva Navarro for more information, and if you want to volunteer to help during the conference and the career fair, you are more than welcome!

Related links:





RAMP UP THE RED                                                                           7 Feb 14

We will be “Ramping Up the Red” to raise awareness for the British Heart Foundation by holding a number of fundraising events on Friday 7th February.



  • Wear Red to work – and donate £1 to BHF for the privilege!
  • Clothes Swish & Everything Goes! Sale - Cakes, crafts, books, DVDs, unwanted Christmas gifts, and a clothes swap. Friday 7th Feb, 1-3pm, Atlas, Upper First, Kilburn Building


How can I help?

Wear RED to work… Donate £1 for the pleasure of wearing red to work, and we will give you a BHF promotional sticker to wear with pride! Pop into ACSO or External Affairs on 7th Feb to make a donation.


Cakes & Crafts… Feeling creative? Donations of cakes and crafts for the sale are very welcome (heart or red themed particularly!) Please bring them to ATLAS between 9-10am or 12-12:30 on Friday 7th February. Or if you prefer consuming rather than creating, just come along from 1pm and purchase something that somebody else has made!


Books, DVDs & Gifts… Do you have unwanted Christmas gifts? Already read all your books? Bring them to ATLAS between 9-10am or 12-12:30 on Friday 7th February and we will re-home them for you at our Everything Goes! sale from 1pm.


Clothes Swish… Do you have any good quality clothes or accessories that you no longer wear? If you donate items you get half-price entry to the Swish = £1 entry. No donations = £2 entry. Entry fee entitles you to up to five items of clothing. You are welcome to more – just pay an additional entry fee! Includes men’s, ladies’ and children’s clothes and accessories; any left over at the end will be donated to The British Heart Foundation. Please bring donations to ATLAS between 9-10am or 12-12:30pm on Friday 7th February.

I'm a Scientist, Get Me Out of Here! Call for participation

I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here is a free online event where school students get to meet and interact with scientists. It’s a free X Factor-style competition between scientists, where the students are the judges.

Students challenge the scientists over intense, fast-paced online live CHATs. They then ASK the scientists all the questions they want to, and VOTE for their favourite scientist to win a prize of £500 to communicate their work with the public.

Their next event is in March, and they are looking for scientists doing interesting things, who’d like to get involved. For example, this year they have “big data zone” looking at how big data is changing science, as part of big data season. This event is fun, and research funding organisations often look favourably on public engagment and outreach activities.

Applications from scientists are invited before the Friday 31st January 2014.


Announcements and news

1st ACM womENconference Europe

·       Event: 1 Mar 2014, SCS

Our conference ACM womENconference Europe was given high-profile publicity by a UK Cabinet Minister. Please see the link for details:;related

Steve Furber top 100 UK scientist

Congratulations to Steve Furber, who has been recognised as one of the UK’s top 100 scientists by the Science Council.



Knowledge Exchange Team CS visit                                           27 Jan 2014

·       Event: 27 Jan 2014, 1-4pm, Atlas Room 1, Kilburn Building


The University Knowledge Exchange Team will be visiting the Kilburn Building for drop-in sessions to discuss opportunities from the IAA account and KTPs. Register for 1:1 sessions.


·       Between now and September 2015, there is approximately £1.5M of the EPSRC IAA funds available to allocate across the various funding mechanisms. 

·       Nationally, KTP projects are undersubscribed and there is significant funding available to increase the portfolio of active projects.  In 2012 / 13, 10 KTP proposals were submitted from EPS, all were successfully funded and generated over £2M of research income.

Horizon 2020 Cross Disciplinary Information Day                           27 Jan 14

·       Event: 27 Jan 2014, 9.30-3pm, Kanaris Lecture Theatre, Manchester Museum


Alexa Mills, National Contact Point for the Horizon 2020 Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) Programme, and Laura Mora Diaz, National Contact Point for H2020 ‘Science With and for Society’  Programme (both ESRC) are coming to Manchester to discuss the details of the recent calls. There will also be sessions covering Research Infrastructures (including e-infrastructures) and Legal and Financial issues. Both Alexa and Laura are in a position to give us more details and insider knowledge on the requirements of the individual calls. These programmes are multidisciplinary - there may be opportunities for researchers outside the obvious areas in the Faculty of Humanities.

Agenda and registration (required).

Virtual Reality Therapies for Phantom Limb Pain                            29 Jan 14

Dr Steve Pettifer

14:00, Lecture theatre 1.4, Kilburn building

Phantom Limb Pain is a debilitating condition that affects a significant percentage of patients after loss of an arm or leg. These patients experience chronic pain and other unpleasant sensations in the missing limb, and the pain resists treatment. Previous research has demonstrated that pain levels can be reduced in some patients when they are immersed in a virtual environment that presents a 3D computer graphics visualisation of their missing limb, the movements of which are controlled by sensors attached to the remaining limb. In this seminar I will cover some of the recent theories on the cause of Phantom Limb Pain, and look at some of the Virtual Reality-based intervention that we've been developing using off-the-shelf hardware.

Horizon 2020 Information Session on Marie Curie Innovative Training Networks                                                                                                       30 Jan 14

·       Event: 30 Jan 2014, 12-2pm, Michael Smith Lecture Theatre


The call for Marie Curie Innovative Training Networks under Horizon 2020 are now out. We are running an information session on how to apply for an ITN – the session will provide an overview of the scheme and the key issues relating to planning, writing and submitting proposals to this call. The session is for both administrative AND academic staff. Please email Claire Faichnie to register.

Tyndall Manchester seminar                                                           30 Jan 14

Globalisation and Sustainable Development: International Transport and Sustainable Development

Jonathan Köhler of the Fraunhofer Institut

15:00, room C1, George Begg Building, Sackville Street

Please note change of time from previously advertised!

If you wish to attend or have any questions please contact Amrita Sidhu.

Champagne party in honour of Carole Goble                                  31 Jan 14

There will be a Champagne reception at 3:00pm on Friday 31st January in the Staff Common Room to celebrate Carole Goble’s CBE. All staff are invited.


Funding Opportunities

Research Support Office

Please contact us through

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


Important: Changes in 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.


Reminder - H2020 drafts available

EU funding-related documents are placed by the University's EU team at:
The easiest way to find these documents is to search using the keyword: 'Horizon 2020'

A great resource recommended by the ICT National Contact Point is, which also provides handy overview documents.

Royal Society Mullard Award                                                          28 Feb 14

Closing date: 12pm 28 February 2014

The prestigious Mullard Award, gift of £2,000 and travel grant of £1,500 is available for early career scientists, engineers and technologists whose work has the potential to make a contribution to national prosperity.
Self nominations allowed but please contact
Robert Stevens asap if you have a nomination in mind.

EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account – 5th call                                  5 Mar 14

Closing date: 12 pm 05 Mar 2014

The 5th IAA call for proposals is open. Funding is for research based on EPSRC funded research:

·        Relationship Incubator Scheme – To develop early stage contact and strategic alignment between business and academics

·        Concept Development and Feasibility Study Scheme – To bridge the gap in support for early stage commercialisation of ideas

·        Exploitation Secondment Scheme and Academic Secondment Scheme - To increase the exchange of knowledge through mobility of people between the University and user organisations


Simon Harper and Sean Bechhofer have both previously been successful in IAA calls.

MRC funding                                                                                   27 Mar 14

Closing date: 4pm, 27 Mar 2014

The MRC have funding for up to 3 years available for methodologies around economic impact (including 1yr feasibility studies). The MRC wishes to understand better the link between research and wider economic and societal impacts including:

·        Identifying specific technologies, discoveries or research processes which have led to a global health impact and advancing methodologies to value this impact’

·        Capturing the benefits of research from the user perspective, how is medical research used by industry and policy makers?

All applications must be approved by the Evaluation team prior to submission.


Featured Research Outcomes


Did you know… papers featured in the newsletter also go on display in the Kilburn Building (outside 2.7)? Send your new publications to Robert Stevens so that more people get to know about your research.


The languages of health in general practice electronic patient records: a Zipf's law analysis.

Kalankesh LR, New JP, Baker PG, Brass A.

J Biomed Semantics. 2014 Jan 10;5(1):2.

PMID: 24410884


Authors: S Mohammed, T Morris, N Thacker

The paper Optic disk segmentation using texture was presented at 9th International Joint Conference on Computer Vision, Imaging and Computer Graphics Theory and Applications in Lisbon earlier in January.

FPGA project funded by the Faculty Strategic Fund

Dirk Koch

Funding body: EPS Strategic Research Fund

Award amount: £20,000


The proposal “FPGAs for Data Centres” has been granted £20,000 by the Faculty Strategic Fund. This allows the APT group to build a machine for high throughput stream processing that can process terabyte sized data sets at several gigabytes per second sustained throughput. This will provide us with an ideal platform for many big data problems such as large databases, bioinformatics or several scientific problems.
The machine will benefit a large FPGA featuring more than a thousand 32-bit multipliers and aggregated on-FPGA memory throughput in the terabyte per second range.  As a distinct feature, we plan to connect an SSD array consisting of 10 fast drives directly to the FPGA.

AnyScale Applications

Mikel Lujan, Gavin Brown, Steve Furber (collaboration with University of Glasgow and University of Edinburgh)

Funding body: EPSRC

Total Award £1.2M


The AnyScale Apps project aims to introduce a new paradigm for app development and deployment.  Currently, when an application is run on a desktop machine, the application is generally unable to take advantage of accelerator parallelism. Further, the user is unable to offload computation to the cloud when local resources are constrained e.g. when playing a game or watching a video stream. Effectively, the the application is partially evaluated for a particular compute scale and tied to a specific platform.

Our vision is to provide a framework that cuts across the layers of the software execution stack, enabling applications to be developed and deployed in a scale-agnostic layer. These AnyScale apps are then adapted and/or migrated at runtime by an intelligent virtualization layer, to make scale-appropriate decisions e.g. about levels of parallelism and computational precision. The same app can run on a smartphone and on a virtualized cloud cluster.

The main enabling concept of this AnyScale proposal is that the policy to determine which computation occurs at which scale can be adaptive, and where possible, automated by online learning techniques.


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