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The sky’s no limit

Reading Time: 5 minutes

As the first female Astronomer Royal for Scotland, Professor Catherine Heymans is on a mission to lift our eyes to the marvels of the universe – writes Corin Campbell, PR and Media Manager in Communications and Marketing.

Professor Catherine Heymans at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh.

“Utterly breathtaking,” is how Professor Catherine Heymans describes it.

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Cycle2work: Introducing e-bikes

Reading Time: 5 minutes

After a rather wet and windy spring, we’re all hopeful for a bit more sun this summer. Getting out in the fresh air can do wonders for our physical and mental health, and as we slowly return back to campus, many of us might be thinking of alternative commuting methods to public transport.

a road in the meadow with several people riding bikes with the trees full of blossom in the background

The Cycle2Work scheme is a great option. Through monthly salary deductions, members of staff can purchase a bike to commute to work with. Last year the spending limit rose to £3,000 in order to give staff the flexibility to purchase a much wider variety of e-bikes through the scheme, as well as normal bikes. The cost of the bike is deducted from your salary before tax, which means you can save between 32 to 47 per cent on the usual cost of a bike and accessories. You can choose to pay over 12 or 18 months.

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Develop your skills: get involved in leadership and management

Reading Time: 6 minutes

In Spring 2020, the Learning and Organisation Development team in HR launched a new suite of leadership and management programmes. The new courses have been designed to help support both current and aspiring managers and leaders throughout the staff community and have recently been shortlisted for Best L&D Initiative in the CIPD People Management Awards 2021.

A year later, and the programmes are incredibly popular. A mixture of self-directed learning, online workshops and facilitated discussion groups, the courses run twice a year with increased capacity to offer places to all eligible members of staff.

To cover a range of opportunities, the courses are split into The Aspiring Manager, The Edinburgh Manager, and The Edinburgh Leader. Regardless of which of the three options you choose, the courses encourage delegates to examine and reflect on themselves, their role, and their goals, to help them maximise their potential.

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One regret, one hope with Nasar Meer

Reading Time: 3 minutes

In this series, Professor Mona Siddiqui, Assistant Principal Religion and Society, chats to members of our community to find out more about them. Each fortnight she’ll be asking, what is the one regret that has shaped their past, and what is their one hope for the future.

This week Mona’s guest is Professor Nasar Meer, Personal Chair of Race, Identity and Citizenship in the School of Social and Political Science.

Mona Siddiqui: Tell us a little bit about the work that you do at the University and your research.

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Thirty days of wild 

Reading Time: 4 minutes

This fortnight, Kitty Wheater, Mindfulness Chaplain, shares how we can make the most of the sunnier summer months to appreciate the nature all around us.

‘How is it June already?’ friends say. As the world opens up and Edinburgh throws aside its woollens, we might be forgiven for the sense that mere minutes ago it was snowing. Our cheeks are still tender from the biting wind and the early dawn is an affront to lockdown-weary heads. But suddenly there are drifts of tree petals in the streets; an hour on the Meadows leaves us pink; comfrey, tulips, and alliums bloom in back gardens; and all the birds sing. We can finally raise our heads from our desks, and breathe in some summer.

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Curious Edinburgh photo presented to US President

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Curious Edinburgh app, created by Niki Vermeulen, Senior Lecturer in History and Sociology of Science, allows users to complete virtual walking tours across Edinburgh, sharing stories from the city’s colourful history.

One such tour is the BLM Mural Trail, which was created in response to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests happening across the world last year. The trail was curated by Creative Producer Wezi Mhura, who wanted to provide a platform for creatives of Black and Asian heritage to celebrate their work. More than 30 artworks – in a wide variety of formats and genres – were created by Scottish-based artists, writers and musicians and installed across Scotland.

The mural can be found in Gilmore Place. Photo taken by Melissa Highton.

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Staff recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Congratulations to the members of the University community recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

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Free bike maintenance classes

Reading Time: < 1 minute

This summer, the Transport Office is working in partnership with The Bike Station again to offer free online bike maintenance classes for all staff and students.

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Bulletin schedule update

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Please note that there will be a small adjustment to the bulletin schedule over July.

The next issue will be published in three week’s time rather than two. This means the next publication date will be Tuesday 13 July.

The next issue will then be a fortnight later on Tuesday 27 July.

As always please do send any thoughts, or stories, to the bulletin team as we love to hear from you. You can reach us at

Celebrating our colleagues – 22 June

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Each fortnight bulletin highlights and celebrates the latest prizes awarded to our fellow staff members. Congratulations to all involved.

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Need to know – 8 June

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Here are the top updates from across the University.

1. Last chance to complete the hybrid and home working survey

All staff are reminded to complete this survey which closes on 9 June. It aims to find out more about staff working experiences and will take around 15 minutes to complete: Access the survey.

2. Covid-19 testing

Staff are invited to join Edinburgh’s TestEd study to help develop accurate, cost-effective ways to detect Covid-19 in people who are infected but don’t have symptoms. Find out more: TestEd study

3. New Students website live

The New Student website and ‘Getting Started’ Guide in the University events app have gone live, providing incoming students with important information to help their transition. These will both be regularly updated, including with information about Covid-19 vaccinations and international check-in once finalised: New Students website 

4. Get PairEd up for student support

The PairEd Up project is seeking staff volunteers who are willing to meet up with a student in Edinburgh for activities such as a walk, run or cycle. Committing a couple of hours of your time to this initiative can help create a sense of community and alleviate students’ isolation. Activities are now paused until August, but volunteers are still welcome to sign up for later in the year. Find out more: PairEd Up project

Edinburgh Science Festival returns

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The University community will play a key role in the return of the Edinburgh Science Festival this year, with dozens of staff sharing their expertise and insights, leading events and designing experiences for the public.

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How to cope with eco-anxiety

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Mental Health Awareness week last month took nature as its theme, recognising the positive impact that the natural world can have on our wellbeing. But what happens when the health of nature is the very reason for us to feel sad? Meet eco-anxiety, a long-established phenomenon that’s gaining new ground.

Here, SRS Communications Manager Sarah Ford-Hutchinson explores the concept of eco-anxiety and what we can all do to soothe and be soothed by nature.

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