Edinburgh strengthens US links

The University is staging a series of events in California this month, showcasing research, innovation, and teaching.

Photo of the Golden Gate Bridge

Experts in medicine, science and the humanities will present a series of public lectures, round table discussions and projects in and around San Francisco.

The initiative, led by Principal Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea, will also feature a number of alumni-focused events.

New ideas

Edinburgh’s already extensive range of relationships with US institutions will provide a springboard to create new partnerships and strengthen existing ones.

Carbon reduction and the transformation of energy systems will be the topic for discussions led by Professor Andy Kerr, Executive Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation.

He will be joined by colleagues from the University’s Schools of Engineering and Chemistry, along with US business innovators, technology experts, and academic researchers.

The event will seek to showcase innovations from both Scotland and California - two world leaders in providing energy innovation across transport, power generation, and delivery.

The concept of compassion, in its many forms, will be discussed at event hosted by Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education.

The conference, led by Dr Liz Grant, Director of Edinburgh’s Global Health Academy, will pose some challenging questions.

Dr Grant will probe whether greater corporate compassion could have helped prevent the 2007 financial crisis.

She will also discuss whether robots can be programmed to empathise with human emotions as they take on new roles in society.

Professor Frank Cogliano, from the University’s School of History, and Dean for North America, will analyse how the Enlightenment has shaped and continues to influence our lives today.

He will be joined by Edinburgh colleagues, along with academics from Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley - two institutions with whom Edinburgh enjoys close relationships.

Big Data and its many applications, from healthcare to the humanities, will be the focus for Professor Jon Oberlander from the School of Informatics, along with researchers from other disciplines.

This emerging field involves analysing extremely large and complex sets of data to reveal trends that can provide meaningful information to inform research and decision making.

The use of Big Data in identifying public health trends in Scotland will be one area for discussion, in a region where Big Data drives much of the innovation and success of Silicon Valley.

Students old and new

Events to connect with alumni and meet students considering studying at Edinburgh will also be held.

Applicant information sessions will allow prospective students to meet senior academics and staff from the University’s International Office.

Edinburgh is the most popular destination in the UK for both US and Canadian students - a tradition stretching back more than three hundred years.

Alumni receptions will allow old friends to meet again and provide useful networking events.

One of the gatherings will be held at the offices of tech company Mozilla. It will be hosted by Mozilla Chief Executive Officer Chris Beard, who holds a MBA in International Business from Edinburgh.


Changing attitudes to Scots will be the focus of a talk by Dr Gordon Pentland from the University’s School of History.

'The Devil Wears Plaid: Political Scotophobia in Historical Perspective' will take place at the St Andrew’s Society of San Francisco.

More details on this event can be found here:

Full details of all the pop-up events can be viewed here:


The University’s North America blog will be updated with articles, photos and videos by Edinburgh staff during the week-long series of events.

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Many of these events will be filmed and short clips posted on the blog. Below are two films made following highly successful ‘pop-up’ events in New York City, Washington DC, and Toronto in September 2015.

The University of Edinburgh enjoys a long-standing and hugely important relationship with partners across the US. We are developing a wide range of major, mutually beneficial projects that have the potential to address some of the biggest challenges facing the world today. These events in California underpin our commitment to strengthen innovation, research and teaching, connect with our alumni, and attract more of the brightest minds to join us.

Professor Sir Timothy O’SheaPrincipal, the University of Edinburgh

Image credit: San Francisco Travel Association, photo by Can Balcioglu.