Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Embracing industrial technologies for the reinvention of manufacturing

During a recent field trip to Mexico City, Jorge Martins presented the Regional Technology Foresight project and discussed how the combination of emerging industrial technologies can reinvent products and services, promote innovative business models and accelerate enterprise-wide growth.

At the Instituto Politecnico Nacional’s Interdisciplinary Professional Unit of Engineering and Social and Administrative Sciences (UPPICSA), Jorge discussed how firms, especially small and medium-size manufacturing firms, face multiple challenges in the adoption of novel industrial technologies. In order to build and sustain a lead in the race to exploitation of the opportunities, firms need to broaden and deepen their knowledge about digital technologies and then develop tailored digital manufacturing strategies.

At the National Autonomous University of Mexico’s Library and Information Research Institute (IIBI), Jorge presented on 'Technology foresight for a future-oriented industry'. The keynote outlined how the rise of new digital industrial technologies will increase productivity, change the profile of workforce, foster industrial growth and increase the competitiveness of firms and regions through greater emphasis on personalised products and services.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Information School Success at GCRF QR Funding

The Information School initiated a strategy around Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) funding in 2018-2019 and appointed a member of academic staff (Pamela Abbott) as a GCRF lead to champion this stream of funding and raise awareness about its potential for the school as a whole.

To achieve this end, three GCRF awareness-raising briefings were held in the school and faculty were encouraged to align some of their research ideas around this potentially lucrative and long-term funding scheme. Several members of staff subsequently joined the GCRF collaborative network in the university and some also joined the Digital Technologies, Data and Innovation (DDI) theme of Sheffield Institute for International Development (SIID) to further engage with at least one theme relevant to the school and to GCRF – ICTs for Development (ICT4D).

As a result of these initiatives, the school can now claim some success in the last two rounds of GCRF QR (Quality Research) pump-priming awards, having won 4 out of 5 submitted proposals and having been actively involved in other GCRF QR funding calls such as the announcement for the recent post-doctoral fellowships. More capacity-building work is planned for the school around these initial activities and work is being done to further support larger grant bids around the themes relevant to GCRF.

The school envisages becoming a leader in the university in research around Information and Development and in being able to promote this globally through the iSchool networks and publication outlets.

The list of successful GCRF QR pump-priming awards are:

Support network for informal caregivers of people living with HIV in Malawi, Sbaffi/Zamani
Understanding indigenous and exogenous knowledge interaction, Mazumdar/Jimenez
Developing human capacity through open scholarship in Rwanda, Abbott/Cox
Place-making for sustainable development: Learning from Xochimilco, Mexico, Cox/Martins

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

#infolit iSchool at #LILAC19

The iSchool will have a strong presence at LILAC 2019, the UK’s annual information literacy conference, held this year 24-26 April in Nottingham, UK. We are a conference sponsor, and are looking forward to meeting up with current students, alumni and other visitors on our exhibition stand. During conference breaks Dr Pam McKinney and current students Elle Codling and Danielle Czerkaszyn will be happy to chat with you about our courses and research. We would love to catch up with any Information School students or alumni who are at the conference so do come and introduce yourselves!

We are also leading two conference sessions. On Thursday 25th, Sheila Webber and Pam McKinney (pictured) are running a workshop: What's my approach? Deciding on the approach to use for your research. Sheila said “There’s increasing interest from practitioners in carrying out research in the workplace, to improve practice and inform decisions. Before starting the project it’s a good idea to step back and think about whether the approach you are taking is the best one for the job. We ran a similar workshop successfully at the European information literacy conference (ECIL) in Finland last year, and it’s great to get the chance to deliver it at LILAC”.

On Friday 26th, Pam McKinney is leading a world-café style panel Information Literacy in everyday life: the role of Information Literacy practitioners, researchers and the Information Literacy Group. Her fellow panellists are Dr Alison Hicks (University College London), Dr Jane Secker (City University) and Dr Dina Martzoukou (Robert Gordon University). Pam said “We are really interested in involving the LILAC community in discussions on how we can influence IL in everyday life. We’re hoping to get lots of good ideas from IL practitioners in response to key questions such as ‘do IL models and standards have a place in everyday life IL?’ and ‘how can we encourage the transfer of IL capabilities across education and everyday life activities?‘”
Pam and Sheila will also be liveblogging the conference on the Information Literacy Weblog, with the blog posts tweeted to @sheilayoshikawa and using the conference hashtag. As a taster, these are their posts from last year's LILAC!

Fieldwork in Mexico City

Andrew Cox and Jorge Martins were in Mexico City last week, working with Information School alumni, Gibran Rivera (of the Instituto Politécnico Nacional), on an exciting joint project to explore how knowledge can be shared in the context of cultural sustainability. The project investigates the creation of knowledge sharing experiences between eco-friendly social enterprises in Mexico and Sheffield.

In one part of the trip Andrew and Jorge participated in a tree planting expedition, organised by Chinamapoylo, a co-op dedicated to sustainable food production in the unique environment of the chinampas, on the edge of Mexico City.

The chinampas are a highly productive form of agricultural production based on strips of land reclaimed from the lake in a practice that has survived from pre-hispanic times. They are now under threat from pollution, mass tourism and urban encroachment by the megalopolis of Mexico City.

The ahuejote trees (a kind of willow) they were participating in planting are a traditional part of the chinampas agriculture and growing along the canal banks protect them from erosion and also act as a wind break. 
Well established trees lining the chinampas.
Travelling on the lake
Later in the summer, it is hoped a representative of Chinampayolo will accompany Gibran to visit Sheffield. 

You can find out more about Chinampayolo through this video.

Dr Martins also presented his Regional Technology Foresight project at the universities of IPN and UNAM.

Monday, 8 April 2019

PhD student Gianmarco Ghiandoni presents at UK-QSAR conference

Gianmarco Ghiandoni, PhD student in our Chemoinformatics research group, recently attended and presented at the UK-QSAR conference in Cambridge.

Gianmarco attended the conference and presented a part of his PhD project, which involves the development of "Reaction Class Recommender Systems in de novo Drug Design".

'These algorithms are machine learning models that have recently acquired great importance due to their effectiveness in product recommendation', Gianmarco said. 'In particular, companies such as Amazon, Netflix, Spotify, etc., have built their reputations and businesses on the top of these models. At Sheffield, we have decided to apply these methods in order to produce suggestions for decision making in automated molecular design. The results from their application indicate that recommender systems can improve the synthetic accessibility of the designed molecules whilst reducing the computational requirements.'

Friday, 5 April 2019

Sheila Webber presenting on virtual worlds education at #VWBPE19

Later today, Sheila Webber will be contributing to a compass point session,  Nonprofit Commons past reflections, future directions, at the 12th Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education Conference, taking place 4-6 April 2019 in the 3D virtual world, Second Life. She was invited onto the panel as Leader of the Virtual Worlds Education Roundtable, a weekly educators discussion forum that has been running for 10 years.
The other panellists are Dr. Cynthia Calongne (Professor with Colorado Technical University); Joyce Bettencourt (co-founder of AvaCon, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to promoting the growth and development of 3D immersive spaces, and Creative Director of The Vesuvius Group); Renne Emiko Brock, Multimedia Communications Program Coordinator at Peninsula College, teacher and artist;  and Buffy Beale, retired educational technology expert, and representing Bridges for Women, a Canadian nonprofit. The session takes place 6pm to 7pm UK time, at https://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/VWBPE%20Central%202/6/196/26 (you need the Second Life browser and a Second Life avatar to participate: conference attendance is free).

Sheila (in the person of her avatar, Sheila Yoshikawa) is shown above wearing her conference t-shirt and badge yesterday, in the venue where her session will take place.

Sheila said "This is a great conference, with educators joining it from around the world. The educator community in virtual worlds is very supportive, and there are always good networking opportunities as well as interesting educational practice to learn from. 
"My highlight yesterday (see the snap) was hearing Professor Tom Boellstorff (Department of Anthropology, University of California, Irvine) and German filmaker Bernhard Drax talk about the award-winning film the madey Our Digital Selves: My Avatar is me (free on Youtube https://youtu.be/GQw02-me0W4 (74 minutes). This "tells the story of 13 ability-diverse global citizens as they explore their identity through artistic expression and making a home for themselves in the VR Metaverse" and is a wonderful example of participative research in action."

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

The Digital Society – What is it? What are the implications, and what can we do about it?

Paul Clough (Information School, University of Sheffield and Peak Indicators) co-presented with Helen Kennedy (Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield) at a Sheffield Solutions Lunchtime Seminar Series for the Department of Work and Pensions on Thursday 28th March. The lunchtime seminars bring together Academics, policy makers and practitioners to develop networks and better understand policy issues.

Paul and Helen discussed the implications of apps, digital services, smart devices, ‘datafication’ and social media platforms on issues in our everyday lives, such as gender, race, health, equality and public services. The seminar explored these issues and the ways they matter to government, DWP and citizens. The focus of Paul and Helen’s presentation was around data-driven decision making and notions of fairness and transparency in an age of algorithmic bias.

The seminar was well attended with around 40 participants, including members of the Senior Leadership team from DWP.

Paul Clough (Information School and Peak Indicators) provides insights on Fairness, Accountability, Transparency and Ethics and building discrimination-aware systems