Research group highlights of 2020, and hopes for 2021

This time last year on 18th December 2019, following our usual tradition, the Centre for Social Informatics staff and students marked the end of the year with an ‘All centre’ celebration of their achievements of the previous six months. This kind of get-together is completely impossible under the current pandemic restrictions. So, instead of the usual hilarity in room C34a of Napier’s Merchiston campus, during which I use my enormous egg timer to time five minute updates from everyone around the table over the course of two hours (glass of wine in hand), yesterday afternoon we gathered online for just 30 minutes of social fun.

jam lemon tarts tea list

The presentation running order and refreshments for the session

Invited to the session were our 11 current members of staff and 9 research students (as profiled in the most recent version of our flyer (v11.2)). In addition, we asked our Visiting Professor Dr Brian Detlor and Emeritus Professor Elisabeth Davenport to join us.

The five people who were based with us earlier in the year, but have since moved on, also knew that they would be welcome at the meeting. In the event they could all come: former PhD students Dr Leo Appleton and Dr Lyndsey Middleton, who graduated in July 2020; former PhD student Dr Iris Buunk, who graduated in October 2020; Dr Frances Ryan, who took up a new postdoc role at the University of Aberdeen in the spring; and Dr Laura Muir, who retired in September.

Of the 27 people invited to our online Christmas social, 21 people made it. Laura kindly agreed to chair a series of 60-90 second contributions from everyone at the meeting. The content of these quick verbal updates centred around our highlights of 2020 and hopes for 2021, as related to our work and/or personal lives.

Amongst the work highlights of 2020 we celebrated:

  • New jobs for our PhD graduates
  • Masters degrees completed by our (now) PhD students at the end of academic year 2019/20
  • Welcoming our new PhD students to the research group
  • Our recent publications
  • Our awards
  • Excellent student feedback for our teaching
  • Our contributions to the wider professional community

Our personal highlights included:

  • Overcoming injury and illness, including a serious bike accident, and COVID19
  • Discovering more about Edinburgh on lockdown walks and runs around the city
  • Opportunities to travel when it was possible in the pre-pandemic period, and when some of the restrictions were lifted over the summer
  • Taking up new hobbies – including year-round outdoor swimming off the beach in Portobello
  • Extending our knowledge of crafts and hobbies – including the study of volcanism, cocktail making, and crocheting
  • Spending time with friends, family and colleagues (including small children)
  • Finishing DIY projects

Work-wise, next year we are looking forward to:

  • Starting new research projects
  • Moving onto the next stages of current research projects, especially empirical work associated with doctoral studies
  • Work travel, to include in-person conference participation
  • Some more PhD completions – hopefully another three by this time next year
  • Working in proper offices with one another on campus again

In our personal lives we have the following hopes for 2021:

  • Getting vaccinated
  • Travelling further afield, e.g. to go walking in the Highlands, to visit family abroad
  • Going to the pub
  • Those who moved in 2020 – settling into our new houses and neighbourhoods
  • Reconnecting with a larger circle of friends and family (other than small children)

Even though – like just about everything else in the past 10 months – we had to adapt our end of year get-together yesterday, these precious 30 minutes together proved a fitting way to ‘celebrate’ the end of 2020.

Uig Sands Isle Lewis Hebrides

We’re looking forward to the freedom to go on holiday again in 2021 (Uig Sands, Isle of Lewis)

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