Back to normal

The School will be fully open as normal from around 0800 tomorrow, Thursday 14 February.  We’re running on generator power as a result of the weekend’s fire in Chemistry, but this will be sufficient to run all our lights, alarms, systems, and other equipment. There may need to be some restrictions in 24-hour lab access, but we’re hopeful that this won’t be necessary.

Thank you everyone for your patience and understanding, as well as to all the staff in the School and the wider University who’ve both minimised the disruption and got us back into operation so quickly.


Prof Simon Dobson
Head of School for Computer Science

Reduced service because of fire

As you may be aware, there was a fire over the weekend in the School of Chemistry. While this has not led to any physical damage in Computer Science, it has meant we’ve lost all power and access to our main Jack Cole building.

The School is still open and functioning as normally as possible. Classes are being relocated to other rooms in the University whenever possible. However, staff have no access to their offices (or phones), and we will be cancelling all non-essential meetings or events.

We’re sorry for any inconvenience. We expect to be back running again as normal by the end of the week. I’m happy to (try to) answer any questions you may have.


Prof Simon Dobson
Head of School for Computer Science


A new vision

In an unexpected addition to his skill set the School’s resident gadget expert, Marwan Fayed, has started a sideline in cleaning glasses with his new ultrasonic cleaning-thingy, as found in quality opticians everywhere.

After a successful demonstration on the Head of School’s eyewear a long queue of glasses-wearing computer scientists formed around the School’s coffee area. Who knows how much this will improve our creativity?

Computational Models of Tuberculosis

On 10th February, Michael Pitcher gave a talk on his upcoming work for his PhD.

Michael is a first-year PhD student based in the School of Computer Science, whose research also involves close collaboration with the School of Medicine. Michael’s work involves investigation of the use of computational models to simulate the progression and treatment of tuberculosis within individuals.
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Automated Remote Pulse Oximetry Talk

At the group meeting on 13th January Dr David Harris-Birtill gave a talk about ongoing work creating an automated remote pulse oximeter.

Here’s an abstract about this work which was presented at a recent conference in India:

“A patient’s blood oxygen saturation and heart rate are crucial indicators for monitoring their wellbeing; standard practice is to use a finger clip pulse oximeter, creating practical constraints on when and how these measurements are taken. Using multispectral imaging cameras, oxygen saturation and heart rate can be measured remotely, and without contact sensors. However, these devices are both expensive and lack the ability to accurately locate the body within the image. This project addresses these problems, creating and testing a prototype for a reliable, low cost system using a widely available camera normally used to control a gaming device, providing both colour and co-registered infrared images. The camera images are then used for remote sensing of oxygen saturation and heart rate for up to six people simultaneously.
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Infection Group Journal Club

Michael Pitcher will be presenting to the School of Medicine’s Infection Group next Thursday. The talk will be a Journal Club meeting, where he will be discussing the following article from the Lancet Infectious Diseases:

P. T. Elkington and J. S. Friedland, “Permutations of time and place in tuberculosis,” Lancet Infect. Dis., vol. 15, no. 11, pp. 1357–1360, 2015..

The Personal View piece discusses the need for a new interpretation of the life cycle of Tuberculosis with reference to both the timescales of infection and the localisation within the lung of varying stages of the infection.

The meeting is at 10:00am Thursday 26th January in Seminar Room 1, School of Medicine.

China Scholarship Council and University of St Andrews Scholarships

The School has a number of scholarships available for Chinese students to study for a PhD with us.

Scholarships are available for individuals normally resident in mainland China, intending to return to China at the end of their studies. Scholarships will be awarded on the basis of academic merit, potential to become a leader in your field and potential to become a decision-maker and opinion former within China.

More details can be found here. Please note that the closing data for applications is 30 November 2015.


A highly commended project

Congratulations to our recent graduate Aleksejs Sazonovs, who’s won a Highly Commended place at this year’s Undergraduate Awards.

The Undergraduate Awards are an international and cross-disciplinary prize that aims to recognise highly creative individuals at undergraduate level. Typically this is demonstrated through excellent project work, and Aleks’ project on “A metapopulation model for predicting the success of genetic control measures for malaria” was ranked in the top 10% of submissions in the computer science category.

Aleks’ project used techniques from network science to explore what happens when mosquitoes modified to be unable to carry the malaria parasite are introduced into a wild population. Experiments like these are an essential precursor to any actual field trials. Together with supervisors from the School of Computer Science (Prof Simon Dobson) and School of Biology (Prof Oscar Gaggiotti), Aleks simulated malarial outbreaks involving different mosquito populations. He used a real geography for his experiments, taking the road network of Sierra Leone from the Open Street Map project and using this to build models of human and mosquito distributions and movement. “It’s been exciting to combine real network data with large-scale simulations,” said Prof Dobson. “It also opens-up several ideas for how to make models like this easier to build and interact with, so they could be used by experimental scientists directly and not just by computer scientists.”

The commendation comes with an invitation to all the highly commended individuals to the awards dinner in Dublin later this month, where the overall winners of the different categories will be announced.