Prize winners celebrate success at graduation

Graduating students and staff celebrated the success of prize winners at a reception for graduating students. The awards for Canterbury-based students were presented by Head of School Professor Richard Jones, Dr Sue Black OBE and Kent alumnus Chris Tasker, from the placement award sponsors Fivium.

The Janet Linington Prize, awarded by the School of Computing in the area of schools liaison and other outreach work went to Oluwadamilola Quadri.

Dami said that she wanted to inspire girls and had thought about the gender imbalance within computing and how she could make a difference; the British Computing Society were particularly interested to find out that our students do demonstrably consider such issues to be important. She had also thought about how to inspire girls who don’t feel comfortable enough to show an interest. Her placement teacher particularly commented upon her treating students with dignity, building relationships rooted on mutual respect.

The School of Computing FIVIUM Placement Prize, awarded for the best placement report went to Alan Gore

Alan worked at Kinetic Solutions in Milton Keynes for his year in industry. During his time there he made a great contribution to the company and was able to get involved in a wide variety of business and technical projects; his report was incredibly well presented and highly reflective about the experience and the skills he developed that will help his future career. On completion of his year in industry he was offered a graduate role with Kinetic Solutions and has already started work.

The School of Computing Employability Prize, awarded for the best employability contribution went to Rosie Murrell.

Rosie found time outside of her studies to ensure she has a full and varied CV. From volunteering at applicant days to dancing in an election campaign; she has made the most of her time on campus. As part of her studies Rosie has also chosen to be a consultant in the KITC, taken part in Computing in the Classroom and had a highly successful Year in Industry. She is a great example of using academic and co-curricular activities to improve her career prospects.

The School of Computing Contribution Prize, awarded for overall contribution to the School was presented to Kozhin Fatah.

Kozhin has been a course rep and a school rep during his time with us, addressing issues with sensitivity during meetings. He has also been a dedicated and reliable homework club helper and peer tutor. He has always volunteered when we have needed students to talk to outside bodies.

School of Computing Year in Computing Prize, a prize awarded to the best year in computing student, was won by Pei Ying VanessaVoong

Vanessa came to the Year in Computing from the Business School, where she was on the verge of completing a degree in Business Studies. Despite having spent her placement year at IBM (in an HR role), she had no formal experience of creating software. But she did prove to have a real talent for it, outperforming all but the very best Computer Science undergraduate students on shared courses, and finishing with an average mark for the year in the 90s.

Computer Science Project Prizes – Prizes were awarded for the best final year Computing Projects. The winners were Andrew Johnson, Christopher Bailey, Benjamin Pearce, Lee Harris, Vilem-Benjamin Liepelt, Peter Sedgewick, Euan McGuinness and Andrew Harris.

The School of Computing KITC Prizes were awarded for the best Kent IT Consultancy mark. The winners were Rosie Murrell, Alan Gore and John Gabriel.

The School of Computing Prize, awarded for highest overall performance, went to Vilem-Benjamin Liepelt.

Congratulations to all the prize winners.

Photographs from the graduation reception and prize giving are available at 

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Prize winners celebrate at Medway graduation

Students from the School of Computing were awarded prizes for outstanding achievements at their graduation ceremony at Rochester Cathedral on Tuesday 10 July.

The Computer Science Project Prize, a prize awarded for the best final year Computing Project, was won by Nikhil Patnaik and Brent Gammon, and George Langroudi

Brent and Nikhil worked on an ambitious project focussed on developing a data analysis application using wearable technology. The whole team worked hard to ensure that the project was a success. Brent demonstrated a high degree of independence and competence on the application development while Nikhil contributed significantly to the data analysis tasks using the R language.

George completed an outstanding project to develop an intrusion detection and network testing tool for system and network administrators. The hard work and professionalism of the entire project team stood out, but George went the extra mile to make the project a great success.

The School of Computing Prize, awarded for highest overall performance and the School of Computing Employability Prize, awarded for the best employability contribution were won by Brent Gammon.

Brent spent his Year in Industry working in central London at Motability Operations.  He took on every challenge that was presented to him and took himself out of his comfort zone to expand his skills in both technology and the wider team environment.  He became a valued member of the team and has been rewarded with a well-earned graduate role.

The School of Computing KITC Prize, a prize awarded for the best KITC mark, was jointly awarded to Anamika Yadav and Luke Thompson.

Anamika brought a calm, focussed energy to the projects she worked on. She demonstrated her ability as a leader, supporting those around her to do their best work.

Through sustained effort, Luke made great strides in his development as an IT Consultant. He was a popular member of the team, and was able to bring a sense of cohesion to projects that he worked on.

The School of Computing Contribution Prize, awarded for overall contribution to the school, was won by Anamika Yadav

Anamika is a long-term Ambassador for the School at Medway.  She has always been very helpful in talking to applicants at Applicant days, being friendly and welcoming, and giving excellent talks about the school from her own experiences. More recently she volunteered to do a student profile video which is on YouTube and on the School of Computing website. She has consistently been a very positive and constructive presence around the school and has been a pleasure to have around.

The Best Year in Industry Report from a Medway Student was won by Azeez Adeogun.

Azeez worked at ARM in Cambridge for his Year in Industry. His role required him to work alongside a wide range of teams and to develop lots of new skills. His report was exceptional and he reflected incredibly well on the experience and what he learned.

Congratulations to you all.

Photos from the prize giving are available on the School of Computing Facebook page at:



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Placement student recognised for excellence

Jade Donaldson, a Computing with a Year in Industry student, has been awarded a  ‘GSK Placement Student Recognition of Excellence’ certificate and has been nominated for a  ‘Science Recruitment Group Industrial Placement Employee of the Month’ award, while on placement at GSK.

The nomination was made by Jade’s colleagues for sharing ideas, meeting target milestones, being proactive within her team and contributing towards a key project at GSK.

Jade said ‘I am very excited to have been nominated for the award, it has been a great year so far at GSK and this is a definite highlight. Thank you so much to my colleagues for nominating me.’

The School of Computing sends over 100 students on placements every year. The School has strong links with industry in Kent, nationally and internationally and has two dedicated placement officers who help students secure roles. The Industrial placement programme is available to all undergraduates and taught Master’s students in the School.

Jade is the third Year in Industry student from the School of Computing to win an award while on placement, following on from the success of Jordan Norris and Hubert Dziedziczak.

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New Lecturer joins Kent’s Cyber Security team

Dr Jason R C Nurse has joined the University of Kent as a Lecturer in Cyber Security in the School of Computing. Jason is a member of the Cyber Security Research Group and is based at the Canterbury campus.

Jason joins Kent from the University of Oxford, where he was a Senior Researcher in Cyber Security, a part of the Department of Computer Science and Cyber Security Oxford, and a JR Fellow at Wolfson College Oxford.

Dr Nurse’s research interests focus on the interaction between users and aspects of cyber security, privacy and trust. This considers the full spectrum of technologies in use today and encompasses topics such as identity security in cyberspace, privacy and security in the internet-of-things, fake news and rumours on social media, and dimensions of cybercrime. A key contribution of Jason’s research has been its engagement with psychology and interdisciplinary methods alongside traditional computer science. For Dr Nurse’s interdisciplinary research, specifically as it relates to Cyber Security and Cognitive Science, he was nominated as a Rising Star within EPSRC’s RISE awards campaign. RISE stands for Recognising Inspirational Scientists and Engineers, and is a new initiativeby the UK funding body, EPSRC, to recognise outstanding researchers and their efforts.

Jason has published numerous articles within the research areas mentioned above, in venues such as IEEE S&P Workshops, ACM CCS Workshops,IEEE IT Professional, Security Informatics Journal (SIJ), Annual ACM Symposium on Applied Computing (SAC), International Conference on Social Informatics (SocInfo), Workshop on Usable Security (USEC), and Human-centric Computing and Information Sciences (HCIS) Journal.

Jason is also passionate about public engagement with his research and has given public lectures for the British Computer Society, Hay FestivalCheltenham Science Festival, Oxfordshire Science FestivalPint of Science Festival, London International Youth Science Forum (LIYSF)and others. He has also spoken on BBC Tech Tent, appeared in The Times, and written for The Conversation and EPSRC blogs.

Jason completed a PhD in Computer Science (specialising in cyber security for businesses) at the University of Warwick, holds an MSc in Internet Computing from the University of Hull, and a BSc in Computer Science and Accounting from the University of the West Indies.

Jason said “I’m really excited to be joining the School of Computing at Kent, and adding to the very strong team of academics already focusing on security, privacy and trust. My research on these areas will sit well here as well as in the Kent Interdisciplinary Research Centre in Cyber Security (KirCCS), where I can continue to pursue my research in computing and psychology.”

In addition to his role at Kent, Jason is also a Visiting Fellow in Defence and Security at Cranfield University, a Member of Wolfson College Oxford, and a Professional Member of the BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT.

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Computing Student wins Sciences Postgraduate Research Prize

Computer Science PhD student, Farhana Liza, has been selected as the Sciences Postgraduate Research Prize Winner for 2018. Farhana has won £500, which can be used for costs related to her research. The prize was presented formally at the Postgraduate Festival on the afternoon of Monday 18th June, followed by a dinner in Canterbury for the prize-winners.

Farhana’s research is in the field of Artificial Intelligence, specifically in the intersection between deep learning (with Artificial Neural Networks) and the natural language processing, and is supervised by Marek Grzes and Professor Alex Freitas.

Language models estimate the probability of an upcoming word for a given context, i.e., for a given, partially specified sentence. The benefit of such models can be seen on smart phones that show the most likely words that the user is typing in the predictive mode.

In her PhD project, Farhana is investigating the novel approaches that improve language modelling by incorporating larger context and by using hierarchical structures in natural language efficiently with sampling mechanisms. She is also attempting to contribute to the understanding of those methods.

Farhana said ‘I am extremely happy and motivated by winning this prize. It is deeply satisfying to win a prize, especially at third year of PhD study when students (including me) are usually super stressed with the research project and with the future plans.’

Our congratulations go to Farhana.

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Technology Evangelist Dr Sue Black OBE to receive honorary doctorate at Canterbury graduation

Dr Sue Black OBE will receive her honorary doctor of science degree, in recognition of her ‘inspirational championing of women in computing and science and campaign to preserve and save Bletchley Park’ at a ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral on 16 July, when students from the School of Computing in Canterbury will be graduating.

A Technology Evangelist and Digital Skills Expert, Sue was awarded an OBE for “services to technology” in the 2016 Queen’s New Year’s Honours list. She is now a UK government advisor, thought leader, Honorary Professor of Computer Science at UCL, social entrepreneur, writer and public speaker. Her current social enterprise #techmums is changing lives. #techmums teaches mums tech skills and builds their confidence encouraging them into education, entreprenership and employment. Sue now has 4 children and has recently become a grandmother.

Dr Sue Black left home and school at 16, married at 20 and had 3 children by the age of 23. A single parent at 25 she went to university, gained a degree in computing then a PhD in software engineering. She set up the UK’s first online network for women in tech BCSWomen and led the campaign to save Bletchley Park.

Sue’s first book Saving Bletchley Park details the social media campaign she led to save Bletchley Park from 2008-2011, it has been an Amazon UK bestseller.

As an encouragement to our graduating students Sue said: ‘Don’t wait for opportunity to come to you, get out there and find it! Thanks 🙏 and see you next month 😍👍🏽

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Kent academic gives keynote speech at City Event

Lecturer Anna Jordanous was invited to give a keynote speech to computer scientists at investment bank Credit Suisse.  The Credit Suisse IT Expo was themed around ‘AI & Robotics’ which ties in with Anna’s area of expertise, which is computational creativity.

Anna was selected alongside speakers from the machine learning and artificial intelligence fields. One of the speakers was a former student Toby Leheup who works for Credit Suisse in the Semantic Technology, Analytics & Machine Intelligence team. Toby graduated from Kent in 2016 with a First in BSc Computer Science (Artificial Intelligence) with a Year in Industry. He went to work for Credit Suisse after graduating, and he had also done a summer placement year with the organisation.

Anna said; ‘I am obviously delighted to be able to showcase my research with professionals in industry, but it is even more rewarding to be able to share the platform with a graduate who is making his mark in computer science.’




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Sonic attacks in China and Cuba: how sound can be a weapon

Professor Ian McLoughlin from the School of Computing Data Science Research Group has written an article for The Conversation on the possible cause of ‘sonic attacks’ in Cuba and China. The article has also been published in The Independent and on the Newsweek USA website.

Reports of “sonic attacks” in China, and previously in Cuba, have left many wandering whether sonic weapons could be targeting US diplomats. Victims have reportedly experienced mild brain injuries with symptoms including “subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure”. Little is known for definite but the symptoms do suggest that some sort of sonic interference could have taken place. It is unlikely to be the result of a deliberate “sonic attack”. Instead, these injuries are probably the side effects of intrusive surveillance.

Sonic weapons fall into two categories: those that involve audible frequencies, and those that are either ultrasonic or infrasonic and so are inaudible.

The audio spectrum, showing infrasound, sound and ultrasound. The audible part of the spectrum shows the threshold of human hearing, and plots of equal loudness (measured in phons).

Infrasonic weapons like the long range acoustic device (LRAD) rely on loud, low frequency sounds (infrasound). These bulky units have been used for crowd control and repelling pirates. When on high power, the effects are like a “punch in the guts”, ranging from nausea to involuntary evacuation of the bowels. Not quite the injuries reported by the diplomats.

Audible weapons include playing Bruce Springsteen and music from Barney the Dinosaur at very loud volumes to enemy troops or those undergoing interrogation. But Barry Manilow also drives teenagers from shopping malls.

Ultrasonic (high frequency) bursts have been used as a teenager repellant, and ultrasound is known to cause headaches and nausea. It also cannot be felt or heard, which fits the facts reported by the diplomats. So has ultrasound been used against them?

How to weaponise ultrasound

The effect of sound on humans is complex. It can vary depending on the frequency, modulation (pattern), loudness, time of exposure, environment, and the age and hearing characteristics of the individual. Some people are more sensitive than others, and although skin reflects 99.9% of ultrasonic sound waves, our ears are much more susceptible to the energy carried by those waves.

There are two ways ultrasound can harm humans. The first is that it can heat up cells in the body, causing damage. The second is that ultrasound can cause “cavitation”. All sound waves are longitudinal – involving a cyclic pushing and pulling motion of molecules as the wave travels, called compression and rarefaction. This happens in air as well as when it travels through an object, such as the body. Cavitation is when the pressure difference between a strong push and a strong pull in a very loud sound causes bubbles to form.

LRADs have been used by the US Navy to repel pirates.
US Navy

The effects of ultrasound increase with amplitude (loudness), but heating is mainly a problem with contact ultrasound (when an ultrasonic emitter touches you), rather than waves transmitted through the air. Cavitation, by contrast, might occur in the fluid of the inner ear, in body tissue or cells. It can be transitory (the bubble forms and disappears with each frequency cycle) or sustained. In either case, it is not considered a good thing for bubbles to form in body tissue (just ask scuba divers).

The extent of these biological effects depend on how the ultrasound reaches the person being “attacked”. Any sound gets less powerful the further you are from a loudspeaker, but ultrasound loses power far more quickly with distance than audible sounds do. A single ultrasonic emitter (loudspeaker) would struggle to generate enough power to affect someone halfway across a typical room.

Ultrasound is also highly directional. Precise alignment in millimetres would be needed to steer an ultrasonic “beam” to hit someone from across a room. Every time they move, each emitter would have to carefully steer its beams accordingly.

Given that it is hard for powerful ultrasound to reach us – and that most of it then bounces right off our skin – it seems to be a strange choice of weapon.

Side effect

Despite some disadvantages, ultrasound is used in various tools including motion sensors. It has also been used to detect people’s mouth movements in noisy locations, or where subjects are whispering (or miming speech). Both are useful in active surveillance, particularly when subjects are trying to avoid being overheard.

Could surveillance of diplomats be the cause of these brain injuries?
US State Gov

Although not deliberate, this could lead to cavitation damage. An ultrasonic loudspeaker designed to operate on a subject who is two metres away would be thousands of times more powerful at two centimetres. Just walking past, or sitting near, the active emitter for a short time could cause damage.

Multiple ultrasound emitters used for surveillance would be worse. If a subject moved their head into just the right location, waves from different emitters could combine at the eardrum, causing much higher energies. Sitting in the wrong position for too long could then cause hearing damage without the subjects noticing.

The ConversationWe may never know for certain what is the cause of these incidents. Given the reported symptoms, an audio related cause is likely – and if so, it is probably ultrasonic. But the nature of ultrasound suggests that these cases are probably the result of surveillance rather than a deliberate “sonic attack”.

Ian McLoughlin, Professor of Computing, Head of School (Medway), University of Kent

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Amanda Ollier joins School of Computing as School Administration Manager

The School of Computing has a new head of professional services. Amanda Ollier, the School Administration Manager (SAM), brings with her extensive management experience in different sectors. She will be responsible for the professional services team in the School of Computing, which supports the academic staff in their teaching and research and helps the students to make the most of their time at Kent. She will also support the Head of School in planning and delivering the school strategy.

Amanda started her career at Eurostar and in 15 years went from train crew to terminal manager, at both Waterloo and St Pancras. She has also spent time in personal development, as a motivational speaker and running training courses.

More recently, Amanda has higher education experience in the Open University in several roles including research support and administration and project management.

Amanda, who has two sons aged 14 and 20 said; ‘I am so pleased to be working at the University of Kent. In my time at the Open University I was responsible for administration in two schools, with 26,000 students. However I didn’t get to meet any of them as they were all distance learners. When I was visiting university open days with my eldest son I got a sense of what it was like to be a student at a campus university with all of the opportunities and experiences that involved. I am looking forward to helping the students in the School of Computing make the most of their time studying here and seeing them in person.

‘I was also attracted to the idea of working at Kent, because it is the UK’s European University. I have a French degree and a love of all things French. I consider myself to be European and am looking forward to exploring the international aspects of my role’.

The previous School Administration Manager, Angela Doe will be retiring from the University of Kent in August.

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New lecturer joins School of Computing

Dr Tomas Petricek has joined the University of Kent as a lecturer in the School of Computing. Tomas is a member of the Programming Languages and Systems Research group and is based at the Canterbury campus.

Tomas studied for his undergraduate and Master’s degree at Charles University in Prague before completing his PhD in 2016 at the University of Cambridge on ‘coeffects’, which is a programming language theory for context-aware programming languages. This was a joint work with University of Kent lecturer Dominic Orchard.

Tomas was part of Microsoft Research Cambridge where he worked on libraries and tools for working with data using the functional-first programming language F#. He wrote a paper entitled ‘Types from Data: Making Structured Data First-Class Citizens in F#’ which was selected as ACM SIGPLAN Research Highlight and won a Distinguished Paper award at PLDI 2016. Tomas is a long- standing member of the F# community and the author of a book on F# entitled ‘Real-World Functioning Programming’ (Manning Publications, Nov 2009).

Tomas was a Visiting Researcher at the Alan Turing Institute from 2016 – 2018, where he worked on programming tools for open data driven visualizations. The aim of the project is to make the use of data in online media more transparent and reproducible and he was involved in building a number of examples looking at the UK government spending, financial market data and the Olympic Games.

Most of Tomas’ recent work has been focused on making programming with data easier.

Aside from programming languages and data science, he is also interested in exploring the nature of programming and programming language research from the perspective of history and philosophy of science.

Tomas said ‘A lot of programming language research focuses on “programs” and “languages”, but I think what we should study is “programming”, that is, how we create and modify programs. Many of my new colleagues at the University of Kent have experience – both practical and theoretical – in closely related areas and so I’m looking forward to starting new collaborations and exploring new ideas in my new academic home.’

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