UCL Research Domains


ATI call for Turing Fellows and Turing sponsored research projects

UPDATE (19/4/18): A correction has been made to the submission address. Completed applications should be sent to ovpr.beams@ucl.ac.uk.
UPDATE (19/4/18): ATI have now released supplementary information about their priorities for the Projects call, as well as background about the Institute's Goals and Challenges. This information can be downloaded here and here. To help in responding to this information, we have been able to slightly extend the deadline until 5pm on Wednesday 25 April.

This is a call for applications, from UCL academic members of staff, to become Fellows of the Alan Turing Institute (ATI). Fellowship applicants are also encouraged to submit proposals for Turing sponsored research projects, which will leverage support and additional resources from the ATI. The internal (UCL) deadline for both Fellowship and project proposals is 5pm on Wednesday 25 April.

1. Introduction

The ATI is the UK's national centre for data science and artificial intelligence, and UCL is one of its founding partners. To coincide with the expansion of the ATI to include six additional partners, ATI has launched two simultaneous calls, to establish a new cohort of Turing Fellows, as well as a set of collaborative projects - aligned with the ATI's scientific aims and objectives - leveraging Fellows' time and ATI's resources. Through these calls, the ATI wishes to grow its wider research community, as well as its portfolio of research activity, delivering substantial impact in the areas of data science and artificial intelligence.

UCL is allowed by ATI to submit a limited number of proposals to each of these calls. Therefore, UCL is implementing an initial shortlisting process, coordinated by the Office of Vice-Provost (Research), to determine which Fellowship and project proposals will be submitted to the ATI.

Details of the two calls, and initial shortlisting process, are provided below.

Please note: since only successful ATI Fellowship applicants are able to submit project proposals this year, applicants submitting project proposals must also be applying to become a Turing Fellow. However, the reverse is not true; that is, Fellowship applicants do not have also to submit a project proposal.

2. Call for Turing Fellowships

Turing Fellows are scholars with proven research excellence in data science, artificial intelligence, or a related field, who contribute to research activities and training at the core of the Institute's mission research, and whose research has the potential to be enhanced through involvement with ATI's network of universities and partners. Turing Fellows are selected on the basis of their ability to contribute outstanding research, aligned to ATI's current challenge areas (or, exceptionally, propose new ones), and to establish longer-term research activities. The normal tenure of a Turing Fellow is one to two years, although individuals may apply to renew their tenure.

The current tranche of Turing Fellowships is shortly to end and the ATI is now inviting expressions of interests from academic members of staff, based at one of its eleven partner universities, to become Turing Fellows. Existing Turing Fellows are able to apply to this call to extend their tenure.

Turing Fellowships provide access to the ATI, its facilities and resources, as well as support for travel and subsistence costs to enable the Fellow to spend time at the Institute. Applicants can also request funding from the ATI to buy-out 5% of their time, for the duration of their Fellowship, to allow them to spend 5% or more of their time in residence conducting research and participating in ATI activities.

Other benefits to becoming a Turing Fellow include:

  • The opportunity to collaborate with researchers they would not typically encounter and work outside their domain, including with Turing Interest Groups;
  • The opportunity to engage with industry partners, Government and the third sector, benefitting from the Turing's position as a national institute;
  • Access to a team of software engineers and data scientists;
  • Access to computer resources including cloud credits, GPU cluster, high performance computing, and local IT services;
  • Access to seed- and workshop funding;
  • Use of a physical collaborative space in central London with no disciplinary boundaries.

Fellows can also request additional funding through the call for Turing sponsored projects (see Section 3 below), but this is not a requirement. However, Fellowship applicants not looking to lead a Turing sponsored project should demonstrate how they will contribute to existing Turing research activity.

Note that ATI anticipates issuing calls for Turing Fellows up to twice a year from now on.

3. Call for Turing sponsored projects

The ATI is looking to sponsor a number of collaborative research projects. These projects, each led by a successful applicant to the Fellows call, will be aligned to the ATI's scientific aims and objectives. In the first instance, over a period of up to 2 years, they will leverage Fellows' time and ATI's (limited) core resources - as well as its network of academic and industrial partners - to deliver excellent research outputs. In the longer term, they will seek third party funding to develop into projects that can deliver substantial impact in the areas of data science and artificial intelligence.

Projects can take a variety of sizes, from a scoping project to a flagship activity. They can involve a single Turing Fellow (PI) or a team of investigators. In all cases, however, ATI is looking to sponsor multidisciplinary projects, which:

  • involve collaboration between multiple ATI partner universities (Universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford, Warwick, Queen Mary University of London, and UCL);
  • are aligned to ATI's research interests and strategy (see: https://www.turing.ac.uk/research/);
  • demonstrate scholarly excellence which will make a significant, original contribution to (a) relevant field(s);
  • are at a scale and level of ambition befitting a national institute; and,
  • have the potential to attract external support to secure continuation.

Once selected for sponsorship, projects will be developed in collaboration between the PI and the ATI. The ATI research facilitation team, along with Programme Directors, University Liaison Directors and University Liaison Leads, will work with the lead researcher(s) involved to identify opportunities for further collaboration with academic and non-academic partners of the ATI.

The ATI has limited core resources to support successful projects which includes, but is not limited to: directly allocated salary costs (buy-out of the Turing Fellow's time as PI and/or an academic co-investigator, subject to the agreement of the relevant Head(s) of Department); travel and subsistence costs; involvement of ATI research software engineers; cloud-compute credits; desk space at the ATI; and, workshop funding. Examples of project structures (below) are provided by ATI to indicate the anticipated scope of projects that it might support. The examples are by no means exhaustive, and the ATI is open to considering alternative models. However, resource constraints mean that projects requesting substantially larger amounts of support are unlikely to be supported.

(1) Funded Fellowship Project (similar to current Turing Fellows model)

  • 20% of PI's time for 12 months
  • £10k to pay for the collection of data
  • Travel & subsistence (e.g., to enable a separately-funded PhD student to participate in project meetings at the ATI)

(2) Collaborative Research Project

  • 25% of PI's time for 18 months
  • 10% of a Co-Investigator's time for 18 months
  • 6 months of an ATI research software engineer's time (e.g., to produce robust implementations of the developed algorithms)
  • £10k of cloud-compute credits (e.g., to perform large-scale evaluations of the developed software)

(3) Flagship Turing Project

  • 40% of PI's time over 2 years
  • 20% of a Co-Investigator's time over 2 years
  • 2 postdoctoral researchers based at the ATI
  • £15k workshop costs
Examples of ATI resources that might be requested for Turing sponsored projects

Note that ATI anticipates maintaining a level of support for projects in subsequent years and so currently expects to issue similar calls for projects on an annual basis.

4. Application Process

Applicants are invited to submit proposals for a Turing Fellowship, or a Turing Fellowship and a Turing sponsored project, to UCL in the first instance. Proposals will then be reviewed by a cross-Faculty panel convened by the Office of the Vice-Provost (Research) and the UCL's ATI University Liaison Director, Professor David Pym. Shortlisted proposals will then be submitted to the ATI by UCL for consideration in competition with proposals from other ATI partner institutions. ATI will make decisions based on research merit, while also looking to ensure a balance of activity across partner universities.

The timetable for the process is as follows:

23 April 2018 UCL deadline for Fellowship and project proposals
w/c 23 April 2018 TBC UCL panel meet to shortlist applications
11 May 2018 UCL submits shortlisted applications to ATI
22 May 2018 ATI panel meets to review proposals
w/c 28 May 2018 Successful Fellowships announced by ATI

5. Proposal Format

Applications should be submitted as collated PDF documents to ovpr.beams@ucl.ac.uk by no later than 5pm on Monday 23 April 2018. All documents should be prepared in Arial or equivalent font, size 11, with margins at least 2cm on all sides.

Fellowship applicants should provide:

case for support (no more than 2 sides of A4) covering:

  • Name
  • Host department
  • Proposed Fellowship duration
  • Details of the research proposed and its relevance to the ATI's research foci in data science and artificial intelligence

    • Explanation of how involvement with the ATI will benefit the proposed research, and a description of how the applicant plans to engage with the ATI during the Fellowship period
    • The applicant's intention to collaborate through the ATI, for example with other Turing researchers, industry and Government partners.
  • current CV (no more than 2 sides of A4)
  • An email from the applicant's Head of Department stating their approval for the application

Applicants also wishing to propose a Turing sponsored project should additionally provide (as a separate document):

case for support (no more than 4 sides of A4) covering:

  • Project title
  • Details of the Turing Fellow who will lead the project, as well as any Co-Investigators and proposed project partners
  • Proposed duration of project
  • Scientific background and motivation, and fit to Turing's research challenge areas for research in data science and artificial intelligence
  • Anticipated outputs and impact of the proposed work as they relate to the PI's home institution, the ATI, and the wider data science and AI research landscape;
  • Evidence of core expertise required to support and deliver the programme
  • Intentions for collaborating with other individuals and institutions outside of the PI's home university (e.g., Turing researchers, industry partners, government, etc.)
  • Prospects for continuation of the project beyond the initial funded period
  • Details and justification of the resources requested.

6. Evaluation criteria

ATI will consider the following criteria in reviewing applications for Turing Fellows and Turing sponsored research projects:

  • Scholarly importance and originality of the proposed research;
  • Compatibility with the Institute's strategy and ability to help the Turing Institute fulfil its mission;
  • Past research record of the applicant(s) and promise of future scholarly contribution;
  • Likelihood of impact of the work and continuation beyond the initial project period via external support;
  • Interdisciplinarity, and the possibilities of collaboration across partner universities.

In shortlisting proposals, the UCL review panel will apply the same criteria, in addition considering alignment to UCL research strategy (at departmental, faculty and/or institutional level).

7. Closing date

The closing date for all applications is 5pm on Wednesday 25 April 2018.

8. Contact

For any questions about the aims and scope of the call, please contact Professor David Pym, ATI-UCL University Liaison Director (david.pym@ucl.ac.uk) or Dr Matt Davis, Office of the Vice-Provost (Research) (matthew.davis@ucl.ac.uk).

More information about the ATI can be found here: https://www.turing.ac.uk/