• Nathaniel Byrne

Newsletter March 20th 2020

The Turing Institute Closes Offices at the British Library

Message from Adrian Smith, Director and Chief Executive, The Alan Turing Institute

The coronavirus pandemic is a rapidly changing situation and these are truly extraordinary times.

Like me, many of you will be concerned because of the personal risk of infection and the possibility of passing on an infection to your loved ones. The health and safety of the Turing community is of paramount importance and we want to ensure we are doing everything we can to minimise any potential risks to you and other members of the community.

At the Institute we are well equipped to work remotely and I know that many of you are already doing this. Given the ongoing risks, and the latest government advice to people to ‘work from home wherever they can’, I have agreed (in consultation with senior leaders and the Chair of the Board of Trustees) to close the Turing’s offices at the British Library until further notice. This decision has been taken in the interests of the safety and wellbeing of our community.

I recognise that this will be a challenge for our vibrant community. Especially for those who will now, more than ever have to balance their home life with their work life, and those who rely strongly on personal interaction as part of their working day. We should all take personal responsibility by helping our colleagues to feel connected and engaged during these times. We also want you to feel able to work as flexibly as necessary to suit your individual circumstances. Please consult with your line manager and speak to colleagues about your working arrangements.

The Institute’s reputation is built on our ability to convene and collaborate. We are fortunate to have the technology and agility to continue this approach. I would urge the Turing community to continue using collaboration such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, particularly for video conferencing, and Slack, as ways of working remotely as a positive way of facilitating conversation and engagement with colleagues, universities, businesses, the public and third sector organisations.

We will review this situation in the coming days and weeks alongside the latest public health advice and we will continue to keep you informed through our updates and communications channels.

I have been hugely impressed by the thoughtfulness of our community during this difficult time and would like to thank you for your continued support.


Adrian Smith

Virtual access to the Alan Turing Institute

Whilst the Institute's physical doors have been forced to close, the Alan Turing Institute is operating remotely in as many ways as possible. This has included moving the scheduled Edge computing for Earth observation workshop that took place on 17th March to an online-only event, hosted on Zoom to great success: 12 hosts and 60 delegates attended the meeting without issue. More events are expected to be held in a similar fashion, and while it might not be business as usual as all Turing employees work remotely, a great deal of work is being done to make remote working the new normal, as quickly as possible.

To continue to engage with the Turing over this period, please sign up to the Institute's newsletter if you have not already done so, check the website for updates, and look out for the University of Birmingham's Institute of Interdisciplinary Data Science website, which will be launched in the coming weeks.

The Turing's latest newsletter can be found online. You can also stay connected to the Turing via: Twitter, LinkedIN, Instagram and Facebook

Thanks for your continued support.

Calls & Opportunities

BHF announce Cardiovascular Catalyst Awards

Due to the emerging Coronavirus situation the BHF has decided to delay this call for applications until a more appropriate time. The BHF remains committed to supporting this scheme and if you would like to be notified when this scheme is re-activated please register your contact details here.

In2scienceUK call to PhD students and researchers

The University of Birmingham is working with in2scienceUK to support young people from disadvantaged backgrounds gain inspiring 1-2-week placements during the summer. The in2scienceUK programme supports Year 12 students to progress to degrees and careers in STEM through work experience, skills and employability workshops.

They are looking for researchers and PhD students to offer 1-2 week summer placements for local students from low income and disadvantaged backgrounds and have received lots of interest in the programme from aspiring mathematicians and physicists. Hosting is easy - in2scienceUK manage the selection and interview process - and can work well as a departmental effort. Involvement in the programme counts as evidence of public engagement in REF and Athena Swan applications. In2scienceUK can also provide endorsement for grant applications.

Sign up here or contact for further information.

CogX 2020: Call for talk proposals

We invite the global AI community to share their cutting-edge ideas coming from research and development in AI.

This years CogX festival theme is ‘getting the next 10 years right’, and we will frame the research stage across themes for economics, engineering, health, the natural world, security and society and culture. The stage will feature a mix of talks and panel discussions. We invite proposals for all types of talks, from TED-style through to technical.

Please apply via the Alan Turing Institute’s Flexigrant system

Submission deadline: 3 April 2020

Fellows to participate in Intercontinental Academy 4 (ICA 4)

The Intercontinental Academia (ICA) is looking for nominations for fellows to participate in the fourth ICA. The theme for the upcoming ICA 4 is ‘Intelligence and Artificial Intelligence’ and especially how neuroscience and artificial intelligence interact. This is a rich interdisciplinary landscape; there is lot of interesting humanistic, artistic and social scientific work that is beginning to employ AI, and there are fundamental ethical and philosophical issues.

The IGI-IAS would be happy to support one fellow to attend the ICA workshops and will cover the cost of travel for the fellows to Marseille and Belo Horizonte – accommodation and subsistence will be covered by the host Institutes of Advanced Study.

The deadline for applications to the IGI-IAS is 20th April 2020, after which we will make a nomination to the Directors of ICA4 by the deadline of 15 May with confirmation of financial support. Candidates are asked to provide:

  • a summary of their interest in the topic, their expectations and a project presentation outlining how they will contribute to the Intercontinental Academia (max. 2 pages)

  • a current CV

  • a supporting email from Head of School

This is a unique opportunity for early/mid-career researchers, normally within 15 years of achieving their PHD and who have an academic post equivalent to lecturer or above.

Please send the applications to Sue Gilligan on ( Sue would also be happy to answer questions from potential fellows and can also put colleagues in touch with our fellows from ICA 3 to find out more.

Link to full details of the project.

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 ESRC 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

University of Birmingham Events

POSTPOSED: Midlands Digital Health Debate

Professor John Terry, Director of the Centre for Systems Modelling & Quantitative Biomedicine, invites you to join us for the Midlands Digital Health Debate, which is will take place when it can be arranged.

The debate will provide an opportunity to discuss questions such as what is meant by digital health and how can health data science benefit the everyday people of our region. The panel includes:

  • Hassan Chaudhury, Digital Health Specialist Healthcare UK, Department for International Trade

  • Helen Stokes Lampard, University of Birmingham, former Chair of the Royal College of GPs

  • Iain Styles, University of Birmingham Turing Institute Lead and Director of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Data Sciences

  • Dominic Cushnan, Specialist advisor for AI and digital health for NHSX

  • Elizabeth Sapey, University of Birmingham and PIONEER - The Health Data Research Hub for Acute Care

Events at the Alan Turing Institute

Tuesday 24 Mar 2020

CANCELLED: Turing Lecture: Provably beneficial AI

After careful consideration, we have decided to cancel the upcoming Turing Lecture scheduled for 24 March. Given public health concerns about the coronavirus we trust that you will understand we wish to prioritise the health and safety of the Turing community and our wider network.

Monday 20 Apr 2020 - Friday 24 Apr 2020

POSTPOSED: Data Study Group - April 2020

After careful consideration we have decided to postpone the Data Study Group scheduled to take place at the Institute from April 20 – April 24. Given the current concerns about coronavirus we want to minimise any potential risks to those involved in the event. All stakeholders, including challenge owners, PIs and participants, have been notified of the postponement. It is our intention to reschedule the challenges when the public health situation stabilises. We will be in touch with challenge owners, PIs and participants with further updates in due course.

Future Events

Thursday 30 April 2020

Health programme Seminar Series. Topic tbc

Register now

Wednesday 20 May 2020: Topic tbc

Health programme Seminar Series. Topic tbc

Register now

Many events are recorded, find the archive on YouTube.


12th International ACM Web Science Conference, University of Southampton

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.

The conference will be held at the University of Southampton and run between Tuesday 7 July 2020 - Friday 10 July 2020

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:

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