• Nathaniel Byrne

Newsletter December 19th 2019

Happy Holidays!

Thanks to everyone who's joined our mailing list this year. Best wishes for the festive season, have a Merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Calls & Opportunities

Turing Artificial Intelligence World-Leading Researcher Fellowships

Outline proposals are now being invited for Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowships.

This programme will invest in the recruitment of a small number of world-leading AI researchers, with significant packages of support to enable the building of centres of excellence in key areas of AI research. It will enable international leaders in addressing the methodological and theoretical challenges of AI to move to, or remain in, the UK whilst maintaining the momentum of their research programmes. Click here for full details.

The University will support two applications. The internal deadlines are as follows:

  • Candidates provide their proposals to the colleges by January 3rd, 2020

  • Colleges shortlist 3 candidates each by January 17th, 2020

  • Decision by the University committee is made by January 31st, 2020

HDR UK Turing PhD Programme

Applications are now open for the new PhD programme run by Health Data Research UK, in partnership with The Alan Turing Institute and funded by Wellcome.

This new four-year funded doctoral programme provides an in-depth training for graduates interested in bringing their numerical and computational skills to health data science.

Applications for the first cohort starting in October 2020 are open now.

This is an opportunity for students who want to make a difference. People who want to work together to combine statistics and computation skills within a health setting to overcome existing challenges and look to develop new opportunities.

You will develop your background in quantitative science (e.g. maths, statistics, physics, engineering, computing) and learn new skills within the health and biomedical communities, so that together you can undertake ground-breaking research.

For full details of eligibility, assessment criteria and how to apply, please visit the webpage.

Applications close Tuesday 7 January 2020 at 12.00 GMT

Call for pilot projects on AI for Molecular Biology

The Institute invites pilot projects from multidisciplinary teams of researchers working in partnership, to apply data science approaches to biology. As part of the Turing Institute’s Data Science for Science Programme, we are developing research around areas of key importance including molecular biology.

This research theme will develop the crucial role for Data science and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in answering many fundamental questions in genomics and biology regarding the structure and function of genomes, the molecular interplay within cells and organs, the role, shape and functions of proteins as well as advancing imaging techniques.

The call has five focus areas, namely:

  • Imaging

  • Genomics

  • Single-cell biological data

  • Protein shape and function

  • Molecular systems biology

Closing date for applications: 17 January 2020 via the Turing’s FlexiGrant portal.

PhD Enrichment scheme at The Alan Turing Institute

The Turing Enrichment scheme offers students enrolled on a doctoral programme at a UK university an opportunity to boost their research project with a placement at the Turing for up to 12 months.

Enrichment places are offered for 6, 9, or 12 months with start dates in October 2020 and January 2021 on a full or part time basis. Places are based at the Institute, headquarters at the British Library in London, where students will continue their PhD in conjunction with their current supervisor, while enriching their research and making new collaborations during their time at the Institute.

Enrichment students may be eligible for a stipend top up of up to £7,000 (exact maximum to be confirmed) and/or a travel allowance.

To find out if you are eligible and for details of how to apply please visit the website.

Applications should be made directly to the Turing by Tuesday 21 January 2020.

Turing ASG Digital Twins: Urban Analytics — Call for Proposals

The Urban Analytics programme has just launched a call for proposals for projects in the ASG Digital Twins: Urban Analytics theme. The Institute, via the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and in collaboration with a number of other research councils, has been awarded a £38.8 million research programme through UKRI’s Strategic Priorities Fund.

The research activities will support UK priority areas which are nested within existing Institute programmes and aims to deploy AI and data science through six themes:

  • Digital Twins: Urban Analytics underpinning the planning system;

  • Digital Twins: Complex Engineering Systems in industry;

  • Health: revolutionising health services through precision medicine;

  • Criminal Justice System, laying foundations for AI in government departments and agencies;

  • AI for Science: delivering AI into national labs;

  • Tools, Practices and Systems, bringing best practice into domain areas.

Themes, projects and associated programmes can be explored on the website.

Guidance notes and application details are available from Nathaniel Byrne at

The deadline is 24 January at 5 pm.

Project ExplAIn

AI and machine learning technologies are helping people do remarkable things. From assisting doctors in the early detection of diseases and supporting scientists who are wrestling with climate change to bringing together diverse groups from around the globe through real-time speech-to-speech translation, AI systems are enabling humans to successfully confront an ever-widening range of societal challenges.

This progress has, however, brought with it a new set of difficulties. Many machine learning applications, such as those in natural language processing and computer vision, complete their assigned tasks by identifying subtle patterns in large datasets. These systems accomplish this by linking together many hundreds, thousands—or sometimes even millions—of data points at a time. Humans don’t think this way and because of this have difficulty understanding and explaining how these sorts of AI systems reach their results.

Over the last year, The Alan Turing Institute and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) have been working together to discover ways to tackle these difficult issues. The ultimate product of this joint endeavour—the most comprehensive practical guidance on AI explanation produced anywhere to date—has now been released for consultation. This guidance is intended to be a useful and inclusive tool, so the ICO and the Turing welcome comments from members of the public, experts and practitioners who are developing and deploying AI systems.

The consultation runs until 24 January 2020, with the final guidance due to be released later in the year.

For more information about the project and the consultation, please visit the website.

Health and Medical Sciences Programme Deputy Director

The Turing’s health and medical sciences programme is seeking a Deputy Director to work alongside the Programme Director for Health, Chris Holmes. You will help shape the strategy and implementation of the Turing’s Health Programme, as well as providing research leadership. This will include close working across the Alan Turing Institute and Health Data Research UK, which provides a unique opportunity to join-up national health data science initiatives, to address the big health issues facing the UK.

This is a stand-out opportunity to join a prestigious, national research institute and shape its agenda at an important and exciting time in its development.

For more information about the role and to apply online, visit the website. Closing date: 26 January 2020.

BBC Expert Network seeking Turing written contributions

The BBC is actively looking for written contributions from the Turing for their Expert Network.

Articles need to be related to a Turing project/piece of research and can be linked to the news agenda and/or have a human angle. Article pieces need to be between 600-800 words (you can browse website for examples) and need to be accessible to members of the public.

View a piece they commissioned by Turing Fellow Brad Love: Do supermarkets know more about us than we do? And another from Turing@Birmingham Lead and Turing Fellow Ganna Pogrebna: The emotions that make a film a hit…or a miss

If you are interested or have any questions, please contact Beth Wood, Turing’s Press and Communications Manager at

Turing University Lead

The University is seeking to appoint a new Turing University Lead (TUL) with effect from 1 February 2020. This role takes principal responsibility for our engagement with the Alan Turing Institute. At the same time the University proposes to establish a new cross-University Birmingham Institute for Interdisciplinary Data Sciences – a virtual institute in the first instance – which will build on the Turing@Birmingham initiative established by Professor Ganna Pogrebna. The newly appointed TUL will also be the first Director of this Institute, and will play a key role in driving forward the University’s data sciences strategy. This is a 0.6FTE post, which is formally a 0.4FTE secondment to the Alan Turing Institute, and 0.2 FTE for the Institute Director role, although in practice there will be a strong overlap between these two components. Please click on the link for more details if you are interested in applying for this Professorial level post:

Professor Pogrebna will be standing down from the role with effect from 13 January 2020. Professor Tim Softley has extended personal thanks for the excellent work she has done in establishing a strong link with the Turing Institute and the University of Birmingham.

Turing Save Haven Secure Compute Environment

Turing’s Safe Haven secure compute environment is currently available through the Alan Turing Institute. Check out the background information here  and a more in depth paper can be found via this arxiv link:

Events & Conferences


Tuesday 24 Mar 2020 - Wednesday 25 Mar 2020

Turing Presents: AI UK

Tickets are now available for the Alan Turing Institute's first major conference. For the first time a dynamic, two-day showcase will see the Turing bring together all three of these goals in an unrivalled showcase featuring the very best of UK academic work in AI and machine learning.

Turing Fellows are eligible for a 10% discount, please contact Nathaniel Byrne, for details.

Thursday 5 March 2020

European AI Policy Conference

Bringing together some of the leading voices in AI from across the continent to discuss why European success in AI is important, how the EU compares to other world leaders today, and what steps European policymakers should take to be more competitive in AI.

Sunday 7 June 2020 - Wednesday 10 June 2020

PSI Conference: Speaker required

The PSI ( are looking to run a session around the topic of ethics and are looking for a third speaker from The Alan Turing Institute who would be interested in presenting. One idea is to have a presentation on ethics with respect to automated decision making in healthcare, but a different topic around ethics and data science/AI in the area of healthcare would be of interest

Upcoming Events

Monday 13 Jan 2020 - Tuesday 14 Jan 2020

Statistics and computation

This event will bring together experts to talk about advances at the intersection of statistics and computer science in machine learning. This two-day conference will focus on the underlying theory and the links with applications, and will feature 12 talks by leading international researchers.

Monday 20 Jan 2020

Computational archival science (CAS) symposium In collaboration with the Humanities and Data Science Turing Interest Group, the final event of the CAS Network will take place at The Alan Turing Institute on 20 January 2020. By bringing together experts from various disciplines and backgrounds, this closing event of the Network aims to explore and discuss why, and how to best, integrate computational thinking into archival theory and practice.

Wednesday 22 January 2020

Health programme Seminar Series: Mental Health

The January 2020 seminars will take place at The Alan Turing Institute and participants can join either in person or remotely (via Zoom). We will ask partner universities to host future seminars to ensure they are accessible for Health programme members around the country.

If you would like to host a future Health programme seminar at your university or have suggestions for topics for future sessions, please complete this online form.

Friday 24 Jan 2020

Reliability and reproducibility in computational science

This workshop deals with reliability and reproducibility of data produced by computer simulations in a number of research fields, including biomedicine, advanced functional materials, climate change, energy, and urban analytics. The goal is to support students and academics as they develop their code, as well as to train next-generation scientists and leaders to produce work that will be regarded as gold-standard examples of trustworthy and reusable research.

Future Events

Wednesday 4 March 2020,

Professor Mark van der Laan (University of California, Berkeley), one of the world’s leading researchers in causal inference, will be visiting Turing and giving an early evening lecture (at a venue close by). Details to follow soon.

Wednesday 11 Mar 2020

Machine learning interpretability, explainability and trustability

Monday 16 Mar 2020

Data science for development

Many events are recorded, find the archive on YouTube.

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