London Hopper is an event for academic researchers across the UK who are building a career in computing.

About this event

UCL and BCS Academy will be presenting the 15th London Hopper Colloquium on Tuesday 14 December 2021. London Hopper is for academic researchers across the UK who are building a career in computing.

Featuring women speakers talking about their research, a spotlight competition open to postgraduate students, and opportunities to network with other new researchers in computing, this year’s event will be held online, via Zoom. 

We will hear from women about their work on innovations that will change the world, fact checking, verification, and natural language generation.

Spotlight Competition Eligibility: Women* research masters students and PhD students, with a Computer Science focus, enrolled at UK universities.

Audience attendance is open to all.

*Please note that London Hopper uses an inclusive definition of “woman” and “female”, which means all individuals who identify fully or partly as women. We also welcome non-binary people to attend and present, and everyone is welcome to attend as an audience member.

Research Spotlight competition 

The Research Spotlight competition focuses on female research Masters  and PhD students, providing them with a friendly forum for communicating the essence of their work. This will be via 3-5 minutes (depending on the number of accepted submissions) recorded presentations, broadcast during Hopper 2021.

Presentation topics may be from any research area within the field of computing, and may encompass interdisciplinary studies connected to computing. There will be 10-12 spotlight presentations, split between two thirty-minute sessions. Prizes will be awarded for the best research spotlight presentations and each entrant will also receive a prize.

If you would like to apply for the research spotlight competition, please first register for London Hopper 2021. You will receive an Eventbrite confirmation email, containing a link to a form to submit your abstract.

Submission deadline is midnight 15 November 2021.

If you have any questions about the event, please email us:


09:50 - 10:00: Online Registration
10:00 - 10:05: Welcome, Mehrnoosh Sadrzadeh (UCL)
10:05 - 10:10: London Hopper History, Caroline Wardle (UCL)
10:10 - 10:40: First Speaker: Andrea Martin (IBM)
10:45 - 11:15: Research Spotlight 1, Student Recorded Presentations
11:15 - 11:25: Coffee Break
11:25 - 11:55: Second Speaker: Neema Kotonya (Imperial, Winner of Hopper's Spotlight 2020)
12:00 - 12:30: Research Spotlight 2, Student Recorded Presentations
12:30 - 13:45: Lunch break (Judges meet privately to choose the Spotlight winner)
13:45 - 14:15: Third Speaker: Professor Alexandra Silva (Cornell)
14:20 - 14:50: Fourth Speaker: Maria Liakata (QMUL)
14:50 - 15:00: Spotlight Prize


The following three prizes will be awarded:

Speaker prize (chosen by the judges):

• £150

• Invitation to be a speaker in the following year's London Hopper.

• 1-year membership of BCS

Runner up Prize (chosen by the judges)

• £150

People's Choice Prize (chosen by popular vote of the attendees)

• £150

Finalist Prizes: The following finalist prize* will be given to each finalist who makes a presentation but who does not win one of the 3 speaker prizes.

• £30

*The cash prizes and awards are provided by IBM; the 1-year membership of BCS is provided by BCSWomen.

How to enter the competition

When you register for London Hopper you will be asked to send in an abstract describing your proposed research topic. Submission deadline is midnight on 15 November 2021.

These abstracts will be evaluated and the top 10-12 will be selected and placed on a finalist list. Other strong abstracts will be placed on a reserve list in rank order. You will receive notification of your acceptance by 22 November 2021.

All finalists are then required to submit an acceptable set of four PowerPoint slides (no dynamic PowerPoint slides allowed) and a recording of their presentation, on their research topic. When you register for the competition, you will be sent a PowerPoint presentation template and an example set of slides to guide you in preparing your own slides. We recommend that members of the reserve list also prepare their talks and slides in case they are invited to participate in the Research Spotlight at short notice. At London Hopper itself, the finalists’ recorded presentations and slides will be broadcasted by the person in charge.

Preparing your Spotlight slides

When you register for the Research Spotlight competition, we will provide you with a PowerPoint presentation template and an example set of slides to guide you in preparing your own slides. All finalists must submit an acceptable set of 4 slides (no dynamic PowerPoint slides allowed) for their presentation and a recording of it.

Due to timing constraints, the number of spotlight entries is limited to 10-12 and a reserve list will be maintained. Finalists will be disqualified if they have not submitted an acceptable set of slides and a recording of their presentation by the specified timescale. If a presentation time slot becomes available, the top-ranked member of the reserve list will be invited to join the finalists and participate in the Research Spotlight.

Spotlight presentations

Your recording will be stopped at the specified minute mark., you will not be allowed to over-run. You may not use props during your presentation; you are being judged on the quality of your recorded presentation, slides and written abstract.

Judging criteria

For the Spotlight and Runner Up prizes, the judges will have read the abstracts beforehand but will also judge the competition on the quality of the presentations and slides. The criteria the judges will use in selecting winners are:

  • Communication – How successful overall were you in explaining your research topic through the presentation, slides and abstract?
  • Presentation – Did you present a clear story with the right amount of scientific and/or technical content?
  • Slides – Were your slides well designed in terms of images, graphics and text?
  • Abstract – Did your abstract clearly describe the research topic?

For the People’s Choice Prize, each attendee at London Hopper will be provided with an entry to a voting system and will be invited to cast a single vote for the prize winner.

Points to note

  1. In the event of a "tie" for the People’s Choice prize, the judges will choose a single winner from the tied entrants.
  2. If you have already won a prize in an earlier London Hopper Colloquium Spotlight or Poster competition, you are not eligible to enter this year’s Research Spotlight competition.
  3. The organisers reserve the right to reject a Hopper Research Spotlight submission if the content of the abstract or slides are deemed inappropriate.


Andrea Martin is Leader of the IBM Watson Center in Munich and responsible for its scope and market relevance. Before taking over this role in July 2019, she was Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for IBM Germany, Austria and Switzerland and President, IBM Academy of Technology. Andrea Martin has started her career at IBM in 1992 after earning her Master’s degree (diploma) in Applied Mathematics from the University in Karlsruhe, Germany.

In her role, Andrea Martin uses her experience and global network from more than 25 years in the international services business, which also provides valuable input for her activities as an expert in the Commission for AI of the German Parliament (initiated in September 2018).

Title: 5 in 5 Innovations That Will Change Our Lives Within Five Years.
Abstract: Every year IBM Research publishes the "5 in 5", five innovations that will most likely change our lives within the next five years. In 2020, the vision behind the "5 in 5" is to radically accelerate the process of discovery for a sustainable future. The "5 in 5" are all about:

  • Capturing and transforming CO2 to mitigate climate change;
  • Modelling Mother Nature to feed a growing citizenry while reducing carbon emissions;
  • Rethinking batteries before we have to rethink our world;
  • Sustainable materials, sustainable products, sustainable planet;
  • Learning from our past for a healthier future.

This presentation will discuss each of the five innovations, encourage the participants to think "outside the box", and envision a more sustainable, healthy and safe future worth living in.

Neema Kotonya is a fourth year PhD student in the Department of Computing at Imperial College London. The main topic of her research is explainable methods for automated fact verification. Her broader research interests include interpretable NLP, question answering, argumentation mining, and natural language generation. In 2021, she was a recipient of the J.P. Morgan PhD Fellowship. Before starting her PhD at Imperial College London, Neema was a student at University College London where she earned an MEng in Computer Science. Neema was also the Judge’s Choice awardee for the Spotlight Competition at the 2020 London Hopper Colloquium.

Title: Explainable Automated Fact Checking.
Abstract: Fact checking has an important role to play in addressing misinformation. In recent times, fact checking has caught the interest of researchers in machine learning and natural language processing (NLP). Since then, numerous exciting advancements have been made in automated fact checking, thanks to new deep learning models for NLP and novel datasets for the fact checking task. However, one area which is still largely unexplored is that of explanations for automated fact checking. Explanations are particularly important for automated fact checking. Not only can they help to elucidate a system’s predictions, but as fake news often surrounds contentious subject matter, these explanations could help to gain a user’s trust in the fact-checking system. I will give an overview of the state of the art in automated fact verification, before discussing explainable AI in this context. I will focus on the types of explanations which can be extracted from these systems, how we can assess the usefulness and quality of these explanations, and other explainability related tasks such as factual error correction and generating adversarial claims.

Professor Alexandra Silva is a theoretical computer scientist whose main research focuses on semantics of programming languages and modular development of algorithms for computational models. A lot of her work uses the unifying perspective offered by coalgebra, a mathematical framework established in the last decades. Alexandra is currently a Professor at Cornell University, and she was up to recently a Professor of Algebra, Semantics, and Computation at University College London, where part of her research group is still based. She was the recipient of an ERC consolidator grant in 2021, a Royal Society Wolfson Award 2019, Needham Award 2018, the Presburger Award 2017, the Leverhulme prize 2016, and an ERC starting Grant in 2015.

Title: Opening the black-box: verification via model learning.
Abstract: In this short talk, Alexandra will give a glimpse of a verification technique called model learning that enables analysis of software even when the source code is not available.

Maria Liakata is a Turing AI fellow and Professor in Natural Language Processing (NLP) at the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, Queen Mary University of London. She is also honorary Professor at the Department of Computer Science, University of Warwick. At the Turing she founded and co-leads the NLP and data science for mental health special interest groups and supervises PhD students. Maria is in receipt of a five year EPSRC/UKRI Turing AI Fellowship which involves developing new methods for NLP and multi-modal data to allow the creation of longitudinal personalized language monitoring ( She is also the co-PI of projects on Mobile Sensing of Altered Every Day Function in Early Alzheimer’s Disease (MEDEA), “Language sensing for dementia monitoring & diagnosis”, “Opinion summarization from social media", "PANACEA: An AI-enabled evidence-driven framework for claim veracity assessment during pandemics". She leads a team of 5 postdocs and 7 PhD students.

Title: Towards creating time sensitive sensors from language and heterogeneous user generated content.
Abstract: There has been increasing interest in processing user generated content such as language in social media posts collected over time to make predictions about individuals' state of mind. I will describe the challenges involved and present work in progress on developing sensors for capturing digital biomarkers from language and heterogeneous user generated content to understand the evolution of an individual over time.

If you have any questions about this competition or your entry, please email

The Hopper Colloquia

The London Hopper Colloquia grew out of the Scottish Hopper Colloquia, and are modelled on the American Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing which is designed to bring the research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront. These annual American meetings are held as a tribute to Admiral Grace Murray Hopper pioneer of the computer business language COBOL - who inspired many young U.S. Naval computing students during her heyday and still continues to inspire computer scientists around the world many years after her death.

Supporters of the 2020 Colloquium

UCL Computer Science is a global leader in research in experimental computer science. The 2014 Research Excellence Framework evaluation ranked UCL first place for computer science; 61% of its research is rated ‘world-leading’ and 96% of its research is rated ‘internationally excellent’. UCL Computer Science research has made a deep, lasting and sustained impact on all aspects of society. Code written at UCL is used across all 3G mobile networks; medical image computing now means faster prostate cancer diagnosis and has developed cutting edge software for neurosurgery; a human-centred computer security approach has transformed UK government’s delivery of online security. Our degrees reflect the ever-increasing importance of fields such as virtual environments, financial computing, and machine learning; and new programmes in Web Science and Business Analytics reflect latest trends in technology and industry. Computer Science enjoys a rich history – it established the first connection to the precursor of the Internet outside the US – and continues to create innovative technologies that change lives with computers.

The BCS Academy of Computing is the Learned Society within BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, and is dedicated to advancing computing as an academic discipline. By developing and supporting a cohesive community inclusive of scholars, researchers, educators and professionals with a shared commitment to the advancement of computing, the Academy aims to nurture ingenuity, inventiveness and innovation in computing. It is through our range of activities that we promote excellence in the creation, study and application of knowledge in computing. BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, promotes wider social and economic progress through the advancement of information technology science and practice. Bringing together industry, academics, practitioners and government to share knowledge, we promote new thinking, inform the design of new curricula, shape public policy and inform the public.

IBM is a globally integrated enterprise operating in over 170 countries. Today IBM UK has around 20,000 employees, bringing innovative solutions to a diverse client base to help solve some of their toughest business challenges. In addition to being the world's largest IT and consulting services company, IBM is a global business and technology leader, innovating in research and development to shape the future of society at large. IBM's prized research, development and technical talent around the world partner with governments, corporations, thinkers and doers on ground breaking real world problems to help make the world work better and build a smarter planet.

Photography and filming notice

Please note that the event will be recorded. This media may be used by UCL for marketing and publicity in our publications, on our website and in social media or in any third party publication. Please contact the event organisers at: if you have any concerns or if you wish to be exempted from this activity. Please also make yourself known to event staff when you arrive at the event.

Webinar: London Hopper Colloquium 2021
Date and time
Tuesday 14 December, 10:00am - 3:00pm
This event is sold out