Women and girls in Informatics
Historically, a significant gender gap has existed at all levels of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines all over the world. Even though women have made tremendous progress towards increasing their participation in higher education, they are still under-represented in these fields and face barriers to participate fully.
In order to achieve full and equal access to science for women and girls, and further achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, the United Nations General Assembly declared 11 February as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science in 2015.
To mark the occasion, today we celebrate some of the women and girls working and studying in the School of Informatics.
Helping while studying – and studying to help
Patricia Mizurova is a third year Computer Science and Mathematics student from Slovakia. As a new student she was looking for a community of likeminded people who wanted to learn and were not afraid to admit that they can be wrong or do not know something – and that’s how she found InfPals, Informatics Peer Learning Scheme. In her second year she became the InfPals Leader and got involved in the Edinburgh University Formula Student. This school year she continues to be a part of the InfPals family as a School Senior Student Leader who is taking care of the behind-the-scenes part of InfPals. In her spare time she likes swimming, reading, skiing and playing pool.
Maria Luque Aquita
Maria Luque Aquita studied Computer Science at Edinburgh Napier, before joining the School of Informatics to do Masters in Artificial Intelligence part-time while working full-time at Dell Technologies - SecureWorks as a Machine Learning Engineer. She’s focused my on developing AI models for a common good, such as healthcare, environmental research, and cyber security, as well as explainable, trustworthy AI, to encourage people to have more faith in it and realise the potential it has rather than be scared of it. She loves traveling, especially to visit friends around Europe and outdoor activities.
Alejandra Amaro Patino
Alejandra Amaro Patino is a fourth year Computer Science and Mathematics student from Spain. She is primarily interested in Human-Computer Interaction, including creating usable and accessible technological tools. Her dissertation focuses on creating an application to facilitate children with autism to participate in the design process of new games. Aside from her courses, she loves to be involved in the university community. She has been a part of InfPALS from her first year, as a student, and, as a School Senior Student Leader. She’s passionate about helping others settle into the university and creating a community where everyone can feel comfortable to ask questions and be ready to learn new things from each other.
Compilers and privacy on social media
Kim Stonehouse is a PhD student in the Institute for Computing Systems Architecture. Her research interests include compilers, operating systems, parallel architectures, and virtualisation. She’s currently working on the JIT-as-a-Service project, which investigates removing the local aspect of JIT compilation and having specialised JIT (just-in-time) servers that devices can instead query for compiled code. These JIT servers can then be hardware accelerated to produce highly optimised code quickly and efficiently. The servers can also cache compiled code, which will be beneficial in any scenario where multiple devices of the same architecture compile the same applications, such as data centres and mobile phones. This will reduce wasted computation, latency, and power consumption. Kim enjoys long-distance running, mountain biking, and reading (mostly literary fiction).
Dilara Keküllüoğlu, a PhD student in my write-up period. Her work focuses on analysing privacy in online social media. Her recent paper analysing the online security implications of celebrating birthdays via social media has been featured in New Scientist last week. Dilara and colleagues examined 2.8 million birthday tweets. Their study also showed that users are comfortable with the possible DOB exposure even when they are aware of the potential security and privacy implications. However DOB is still used as some part of the authentication process by a lot of organisations such as banks. People also use their birthdays in their passwords and PINs. Outside of her studies Dilara she loves playing games on her switch, especially Zelda ones!
Program synthesis, multiagents and assistive technologies
Elizabeth Polgreen is a lecturer in programming languages for trustworthy systems. Eizabeth’s path to Informatics included a stint as an electronics and software engineer in industry, and she still loves when her research is useful to real engineers out in the field. Her research interests are in program synthesis algorithms, applications of program synthesis and integration of synthesis into verification techniques.
Today, it's humans who write programs for computers. Tomorrow, computers will write their own programs, using a technology I work on called 'program synthesis'. How will we tell them what to do? How can we make it be safe and secure? These are questions I try to answer in my research.
Outside of work, she is passionate about kayaking. During her PhD, she competed for Great Britain at a canoe marathon world cup, and still enjoys getting out on the water as often as she can. Her favourite place to be in Edinburgh is out on the Firth of Forth, looking back at the view of Arthur’s seat.
Nadin Kökciyan is a lecturer in artificial intelligence. She uses AI techniques, such as multiagent systems and agreement technologies, to develop decision-support systems to help users in making decisions. Nadin’s research has applications in many different domains such as privacy and healthcare. One of the projects she’s involved in aims to build privacy assistants to help users decide when to share or not share their data with specific IoT entities to give them control of their own data. Another one develops AI solutions to help users in protecting themselves from phishing messages. She’s also working with Professor Simon Parsons, on a tool for stroke survivors to prevent secondary stroke. This tool collects data from wellness sensors such as a blood pressure monitor to track the patients in real-time. Researchers also provide an AI-based chatbot that they can interact with to explain why certain decisions are made
Outside of work, Nadin loves nature a lot. She enjoys long walks and feels lucky to live in Scotland where she can find plenty of walking routes.
Aurora Constantin was a physics teacher in a high school when she realised how powerful educational technology can be, provided it is appropriately designed for the target users. She became interested in learning more about educational technology and how it is designed and developed. When she came across Human-Computer Interaction, she realised that it does not matter how good an application is from the technical point of view, if the interface between humans and computers is not good enough to facilitate the interaction. Moreover, if users have special needs, developing interaction solutions that are accessible could improve the lives of the impacted community. Aurora changed her career path and dedicate herself to the design of educational and assistive technologies. She completed an MSc in IT at the University of Glasgow and began a PhD programme at the University of Edinburgh with a focus on developing educational technology for practitioners (e.g. teachers, speech and language therapists) who work with children with autism. She continued her PhD work at the University of Bath. As a result, in 2020 a new mobile app (SOFA) has been released and it is now freely available for Android and iOS with the support of the University of Bath and other organisations. Currently, Aurora is a University Teacher in Informatics where she continue her work on designing educational technology and assistive technology, involving her students in research projects and encouraging them to create and use new knowledge.
In her spare time, she enjoys painting – she had her work exhibited individually and in group exhibitions. She also likes reading literature and listening to classical music.