• Nathaniel Byrne

Turing@Birmingham Newsletter, 26 February 2021

Book your place at The Turing presents: AI UK

This week the Turing unveiled their highly anticipated programme for AI UK. Topics addressed include the climate emergency, increasing concerns about inequality, mental health and the road to economic recovery following COVID-19. Highlights include:

  • Data science for socio-economic shocks: Join Chief Data Scientist Louisa Nolan from the Office of National Statistics and other experts discussing how AI and data science can help us recover from the impact of COVID-19.

  • The climate emergency: Hear from leading scientists monitoring and predicting climate change through innovative methods from the Antarctic to the forest floor.

  • Doing better in data science: Our panel of STEM, diversity and ethics experts reflect on the changes in the AI research sector since the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement, to the Ofqual grading controversy. Join DeepMind’s Shakir Mohamed and other experts, as we co-create solutions with the audience to find ways the AI and data science community can do better.

  • Mental health – the new UK epidemic: Following 12 months of lockdown life, the UK is facing a new epidemic. Our panel of mental health and AI experts will talk about the current research and applications of AI and data science to bolster and improve the mental health provision and services to UK society.

View the full programme and book now

Calls & Opportunities

April Data Study Group

The next Turing Data Study Group taking place in April. Data Study Groups are intensive, collaborative hackathons which bring together organisations from industry, government, and the third sector, with talented multi-disciplinary researchers from academia. Organisations act as Challenge Owners, providing real-world problems to be tackled by researchers.

The events provide a fantastic opportunity for early career researchers to rapidly develop their data science skills using real-world data. The event also offers participants the chance to forge new networks for future research projects and build links within The Alan Turing Institute and industry. PhDs, postdocs, those with equivalent non-traditional qualifications/experience and other early career researchers are encouraged to apply.

Please note that due to COVID-19 the Data Study Group will be run remotely over three weeks. For full details of this format, including the time commitment involved, please read our event page.

The deadline for applications is 4 March 2021 at 12:00 noon GMT.

Research call on AI, data-driven technologies and ethnic minorities

In the spring we will be launching a research call in partnership with NHSX’s NHS Artificial Intelligence Lab, which will be administered by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR). Funding will be available for projects that support the advancement of artificial intelligence and data-driven technologies in health in a way that better meets the needs of minority ethnic populations. We will be sharing more information about this opportunity soon.

Sign up to Turing Interest Groups

The Institute has announced 15 new Turing Interest Groups have launched. Interest Groups aim to promote research collaboration, share knowledge, and communicate emerging scientific concepts to the wider Institute and beyond, around a shared area of interest in data science and AI. These are:

Express your interest to join the Turing’s reviewer pool

Expressions of interest are now welcomed for reviewing Turing initiatives from the Turing Community and beyond. As the Institute is growing, there are an increasing number of activities within the Turing that require advice from expert and generalist reviewers. These include recurrent work linked to academic programmes (e.g. Enrichment Scheme / Data Study Groups / Training Provision), and the review of externally proposed projects that Turing engages with.

We are hoping to create a reviewer pool of individuals who hold diverse expertise and who can be guided by an established framework to ensure transparent and consistent reviewing across these programmes. Find out more and express your interest.


University of Birmingham Positions

Research Fellow in Computational Toxicology

The University of Birmingham's School of Bioscience seek an enthusiastic candidate to champion a new partnership in computational toxicology and chemical risk assessment between the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA), UK Health and Safety Executive’s Science and Research Centre, and the University of Birmingham. The successful applicant will contribute to the creation and translation of knowledge about the application of New Approach Methodologies (NAMs) to the risk assessment of food-related chemicals, with the specific goal to improve and streamline the current risk assessment processes at the FSA.

Over a 4-year period, the post holder will undertake a range of collaborative activities at each of the three partner locations, including an extensive scoping of the applicability of computational NAMs to the FSA as well as case studies to demonstrate the computational approaches. The first case study will implement a workflow for analysing in vitro ‘omics’ toxicity data using benchmark dose modelling and physiologically-based kinetic (PBPK) modelling to derive health-based guidance values, including to investigate the uncertainties associated with such an approach.

Please apply directly through our website

Alan Turing Institute Positions

Casual Research Assistants

Two positions are to assist with research into enabling responsible data flows for policy response to tackle modern slavery and human trafficking. The project involves a multi-disciplinary team and is led by the Alan Turing Institute and is a collaboration between Oxford University’s Bonavero Institute and the Open Data Institute. Please see the advert for more information.

Another position is to assist with research into AI for safeguard human and border security with particular focus on modern slavery and related drivers and factors. The project is funded through Turing’s Defence and Security funders. The project focuses on following areas: (a) data sources and methods to detect illicit activity at sea (with transferable knowledge to land), (b) causal links to broader human and security issues such as conflict, migration, (c) narratives that can inform the pathways to exploitation, and (d) methods to improve data capture and measurement of hidden populations. Further information is available online.

Applicants can send their CV and Cover Letter to

Events at the University of Birmingham

Data Science and Computational Statistics Seminar

The Data Science and Computational Statistics Seminar series is jointly between the School of Mathematics and the School of Computer Science at the University of Birmingham. Seminars are scheduled for Tuesday afternoons. Upcoming seminars:

  • 2 March 2021, 15:00-16:00: Variational Bayesian inference for point processes - a latent variable approach. Professor Manfred Opper, Professor of Machine Learning, Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, University of Birmingham, considers Bayesian inference for estimating the intensity function of inhomogeneous Poisson processes, where the intensity function is modelled by a Gaussian process (GP) prior via a sigmoidal link function

  • 16 March 2021, 15:00-16:00: Roots of random functions. Assistant Professor Oanh Nguyen, Department of Mathematics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, presents approaches via the local universality method to study questions about the roots. As one of the applications, we prove that the number of real roots of a wide class of random polynomials satisfies the Central Limit Theorem.

For more information, please visit the Seminar page on Talks@Bham.

Thursday 4 March, 19:00

INTERFACE: Science + Art + Health

Short Talks, Panel Discussion and Audience Q&A

In 2020 the Centre for Systems Modelling & Quantitative Biomedicine (SMQB) embarked on a new Artist-in-Residence programme involving four multidisciplinary artists. Join us for an informal evening event to hear these artist & researcher stories of creative collaboration at the interface between mathematics, biology & healthcare. Register now.

Events at the Alan Turing Institute

The Turing is committed to working flexibly and staying connected - we’ve reconfigured to virtual engagement. You can watch highlights of our past events at the video archive on YouTube.

Research programmes showcase

The Alan Turing Institute is pleased to invite you to its first Research Programmes Showcase, a new event series connecting the Turing’s University Partners to its research programmes. The events will:

  • Provide valuable insight into how you can get involved

  • Offer the opportunity to learn more about the research ambitions, partners and key projects of each programme

  • Feature a presentation and panel discussion via an audience Q & A session

  • Include a networking session with key members of the programme

You can find details of all scheduled events below, the public policy programme will be announcing their date shortly. To book your place, click on the event title:

Wednesday 24 February

Tools, practices and systems seminar

The Tools, Practices and Systems monthly seminar brings together researchers, data scientists and software engineers across the Turing and beyond to connect and discover the latest in open research and infrastructure from a mix of internal and external speakers.

Seminars take place on the last Wednesday of every month (except March, August and December 2021). Sign up to the event on Wednesday 24 February

Tuesday 2 March, 12:30 – 14:00

Tabitha Goldstaub announced for next Turing Lecture

The first Turing Lecture of 2021 will feature Tabitha Goldstaub. Tabitha is co-founder of CogX and chair of the UK government's AI Council. She is also an advocate for increased diversity in tech, Tabitha is the author of How To Talk To Robots - A girls guide to a world dominated by AI. She's also a co-founder of Future Girl Corp and is an advisor to TeensInAI and on the board of Tech UK.

This lecture will cover aspects of the AI Roadmap and Tabitha's journey to becoming one of the capital's most influential people in tech. This will be followed by a fireside chat, hosted by Adrian Weller, Programme Director for AI at the Turing, and an interactive audience Q&A. Book now.

Thursday 11 March, 13:00 - 16:15

Digital Identity: A Focus on Evolving Use Cases & Risks

Hosted by the Trustworthy Digital Infrastructure for Identity Systems project, this workshop is designed to advance collective understanding of use cases, cultural considerations and how behaviours are evolving with the implementation of national digital identity systems, and technology generally. Discussions will inform research into understanding the threats and risks that are associated with trustworthy systems design and will explore opportunities for managing them. Register now.

Wednesday 17 March, 14:00 - 17:00

Uncertainty and risk workshop

This workshop will commemorate the centenary of the publication of Frank Knight’s "Risk, Uncertainty, and Profit" and John Maynard Keynes’ “A Treatise on Probability”. This workshop is organised by the University of Oxford and supported by The Alan Turing Institute. For further details and regular updates, please visit the official event website.

Community Events

Turing ‘sandpit’ events on themes of the Greater Manchester local industrial strategy

The University of Manchester’s Institute for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (IDSAI) is hosting four Turing ‘sandpit’ events in January and February 2021, based around the major themes of the Greater Manchester Local Industrial Strategy, with input from the related Turing programmes. The sandpits will focus on the following themes: Health and Care Innovation; Advanced Materials and Manufacturing; Clean Growth and Digital Transformation. Funding is available to support collaborative feasibility studies (£10k-£15k) co-developed at the sandpit events. To register your interest, complete the EOI form.


21 - 25 June 2021

WebSci’21 | 13th ACM Web Science Conference

Hosted by the University of Southampton, UK, delivered online

The 13th ACM Web Science Conference (WebSci’21) is an interdisciplinary conference where a multitude of research disciplines converge with the purpose of creating a greater insight into a complex global Web than the sum of their individual parts. We invite participation from diverse fields including computer and information sciences, communication, economics, informatics, law, linguistics, philosophy, political science, psychology, and sociology.

Alan Turing Institute News

Institute offices at The British Library to remain closed

Our offices will remain closed. Our plans to reopen were always subject to any rapid developments and this decision has been taken in the light of the new health and safety advice, rising rates of infection and the guidance to ‘only go to work if you must’.

Virtual access to the Institute

You can also stay connected to the Turing via: Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.

Thanks for your continued support.

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