• Nathaniel Byrne

Newsletter January 9th 2020

Calls & Opportunities

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 17:00 GMT.

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:

Informal Enquiries – Professor Tim Softley Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge

Transfer. Closing date: 10 January 2020

Professor Pogrebna will be standing down from the role with effect from 18 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 March 2020 - Wednesday 25 March 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 at their upcoming conference in Barcelona. 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.

Tuesday 7 July 2020 - Friday 10 July 2020

12th International ACM Web Science Conference, University of Southampton

NEW: Call for Contributions

The ​12t​h International ACM Conference on Web Science in 2020 (WebSci’20) is a unique interdisciplinary conference facilitating creative and critical dialogue with the aim of understanding the Web and its impacts and reflecting on the most pressing questions facing the Web. This year the organiser particularly encourage contributions on the interrelationships between the Web, AI and other new digital technologies, exploring current theoretical, methodological, and epistemological challenges as well as the practices of individuals, collectives, institutions, and platforms.

Please see the website for more information and detail on submitting.

Abstract submission deadline: 14 February 2020

Paper submission deadline: 21 February 2020


Thursday 13 February 2019

NEW: Dynamic situational awareness from autonomous platforms (1,000 Drones)

Suitable attendees will be anyone from a robotics, AI, autonomous strategy/systems or air/space platforms background, this one-day workshop will determine the key research challenges to using a system of air and land autonomous platforms in a Defence and Security context. The intention is to launch a research programme into the challenges raised by the workshop and will underpin a real world trial using 640 Autonomous airborne systems, 300 Autonomous ground borne systems and 10 base stations or “Aviaries” for the air platforms.

Further details are available here. For more information and to register for this event, please contact Alaric Williams or Kate Wicks.

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

Friday 07 Feb 2020

Citizen participation and machine learning for a better democracy

Wednesday 12 Feb 2020

Complexity and token economy

Wednesday 04 March 2020,

Targeted learning

Wednesday 11 Mar 2020

Machine learning interpretability, explainability and trustability

Monday 16 Mar 2020

Data science for development

Wednesday 18 Mar 2020 - Thursday 19 Mar 2020

UK-Italy robotics and AI research collaboration workshop

Many events are recorded, find the archive on YouTube.

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