Image of two black students (one girl and one boy) happily constructing a robotic arm


Summer Scholarships for Black Students 2024

The call for applicants to participate in summer 2024 is now open. Three bursaries will be awarded.

Join our growing group of young Black scholars in computing.

Since 2020, we have provided financial support to Black scholars to enable them to experiment in a cutting-edge field, that can help to change the world. Hot technology topics previously covered include: Misinformation, Robotics, Human Computer Interaction, Blockchain and Knowledge Graphs.

Check out the previous topics from our 2023 cohort below.

As a KMi Scholar, you will receive a non-repayable bursary, mentoring, and support from the researchers, students and technicians who work in our project spaces. The bursary can be used to cover living costs or make up for your loss of earnings during the summer while you carry out a project lasting 9 weeks.

The project will start on 1st July 2024 and may be conducted online, at the Open University campus, or both. The award to each scholar will be £2,700. The deadline for applications is midday on Friday 26th April 2024

The benefits

As KMi Scholars, you will create a story for future generations. The KMi team aim to make Black students feel at home in a computer science research environment and demonstrate what computing careers can offer. A scholarship could be a step forward in your career development. It can provide skills and evidence which can be included in applications to study at university or for employment. You will have a chance to explore and develop technologies in a playful way and contribute your ideas to the project.

Application process

The call for applicants to participate in summer 2024 is now open.
These are the three challenges offered in the 2024 call. The 2023 award winners have completed their projects, and their results can be seen at the bottom of the page.

Challenge 1 - From 'Huh?' to Aha! Cracking the code of research papers

Challenge 1: From "Huh?" to Aha! Cracking the code of research papers

Subject Area: Artificial Intelligence

Supervisory Team: Audrey Ekuban and Venetia Brown

How can we make studying more engaging and interactive?

Understanding research papers can be daunting for students. Our project aims to transform the way students engage with research papers through the development of a Research Companion app. By leveraging AI technology, we aim to simplify access to academic literature and overcome common challenges students encounter when navigating complex research material. Through intuitive features such as content summarisation, quiz generation and visual aids, the app will enhance students' understanding and foster a deeper appreciation of scholarly knowledge. Overall, the project will be centred around the innovative use of technology to support education, making academic research more interactive and accessible to learners.

In this project, the scholar will develop the Research Companion app proof of concept, which leverages Retrieval-Augmented Generation (RAG) technology. The scholar will use RAG to extract relevant content from research papers and extract content to generate quiz questions automatically. This feature aims to aid learning by creating engaging and informative quizzes based on the content of research papers, facilitating a deeper understanding of the material. Alongside textual content and quizzes, the app will have the capability to create accompanying images. These images are meant to enhance comprehension and retention of the extracted information, making learning more visual and interactive. The output will include documented code for a proof of concept and documentation for future development.

This project is open to applicants with any level of programming skills in languages such as Python or JavaScript. Skills in UI design, to create a user-friendly interface for the app are beneficial but not essential.

Challenge 2 - Building Trust with AI: Can CORE-GPT Be Our Truthful Friend?

Challenge 2: Building Trust with AI: Can CORE-GPT Be Our Truthful Friend?

Subject Area: Open Access to Research Papers

Supervisory Team: Matteo Cancellieri, Suchetha Nambanoor-Kunnath and David Pride

Will academic research be revolutionised by AI by improving access to factual answers and open access to knowledge?

Remember those chatbots that gave nonsensical answers or AI art generators spitting out random shapes? Those are "hallucinations," unintended outputs from large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT. We know them, we fear them but can we control them?

This project is centred around CORE-GPT, a promising tool designed to address this challenge by combining Large Language Models such as Chat GPT with the widest collection of Open Access research papers CORE. CORE-GPT aims to generate trustworthy answers solely based on scientific evidence, ensuring factual accuracy and transparency.

In this project, the scholar will become an open science advocate and investigate CORE-GPT's potential impact on research. Here are various research questions or approaches we will look into. You won't need to follow them all, but we can pick and choose which one you prefer based on what you like.

  • Fact-Checking Frenzy: Analyse research questions across various disciplines and compare CORE-GPT's responses to traditional research methods. Does CORE-GPT offer faster, more accurate outcomes?
  • Transparency Trail: Dive into CORE-GPT's open-source approach. Analyse the provided scientific sources and assess their relevance and credibility. Does this transparency foster trust in the generated information?
  • Impact Assessment: How could we integrate CORE-GPT into the existing research workflows? Could it accelerate discovery, enhance collaboration, and promote open science principles? What potential challenges or ethical considerations would need to be addressed?
  • Language enrichment: Can CORE-GPT be improved by providing a more accurate language? Can we offer the Language Model help and hints to make it react better to the user requests?

You will complete your project with a deliverable (could be a presentation, a video, a report etc.) showing what you learned and what you contributed.

This project is ideal for students interested and willing to learn about research methods, artificial intelligence, and open science. Familiarity with programming and research is beneficial but not required.

Challenge 3 - Generative AI and Controversial Topics

Challenge 3: Generative AI and Controversial Topics

Subject Area: Artificial Intelligence

Supervisory Team: Aisling Third, Tracie Farrell and Matteo Cancellieri

How do AIs deal with disagreement?

As more and more people use chatbots like ChatGPT and other generative AI tools to help them explore a new topic and develop their point of view, it's more important than ever to understand how AIs handle topics that are more controversial or the subject of heated debate. Polarisation of opinions, and the effects of living in a digital 'bubble' of likeminded people, have been repeatedly identified as harmful elements of the current online landscape, and it seems likely that large language models (LLMs) have been trained on examples of both effective and ineffective/harmful human ways to deal with serious disagreements.

We can explore this space safely by setting up some AI models to have different perspectives on a chosen issue, and looking at how they contribute to and influence conversations on that issue.

In this project, the scholar will be experimenting with the ways that large language models handle disagreement about topics. For example, if we have one model trained on data explicitly about one side's point of view, another trained on the other side's point of view, and one that includes both sides, we can see how the model itself influences the conversation in these three test conditions. The scholar will design scenarios to create disagreeing conversations, and will use an open-source generative AI environment we provide to carry out rigorous experiments with those.

We will offer a selection of topics but if the scholar has something specific, they want to look into, we can be open to that. Note that all that matters is that there are heated disagreements about the chosen topics; there is no need for them necessarily to be morally significant ones. How a centaur might wear jeans, whether a dress is blue and black, or white and gold, and the comparative dangers of one horse-sized duck vs. 100 duck-sized horses are all topics which have been the cause of online controversy in recent years.

This project is open to applicants with any level of skill in computing.

Key Dates for 2024

  • The scholarship projects will start on 1st July and run for 9 weeks until 30th August 2024.
  • The deadline for applications is midday on Friday 26th April 2024.

How to Apply

In order to qualify for a scholarship, you must meet all the following criteria:

  • Identify as being from a Black background (see Appendix 1 for full details).
  • Aged between 16 and 20 years on 31 May 2024.
  • Have an interest in technology and sufficient time available during the summer.
  • Be ordinarily resident in the UK.
  • Be able to provide details of two referees whom we can contact if you are selected for a scholarship (at least one is required from your educational institute, the other can be from a personal referee).
  • Be available to carry out a project which will start on 1st July 2024 and run for 9 weeks until 30th August 2024

We will be awarding three scholarships and have created a simple application process.

We will ask you to complete an application form.

  1. A description of any interest you have in technology, and what relevant skills or experience you have, if any.
  2. Give an example of when you have worked well in a pair or team or an example of when you have managed your time.
  3. Which of the three challenges appeal to you and why?
  4. What time commitment do you think will be needed to carry out a project, and how will you fit this around other commitments during the 6 to 8 weeks?

Prior knowledge of programming is not essential. We value and promote theoretical diversity in computing.

PDF Icon Click here to download the application form

PDF Icon Click here to read the full terms and conditions

Taking part in a scholarship project will enhance employability, develop computer science skills and/or provide a social benefit.

The award will be made by a panel of OU staff and students. The panel will assess applicants' personal statements. Funds are limited, and no guarantee of an award can be made.

What happens at the end of the project?

The results will be shared with KMi, for example, by uploading a report in the OU's Open Research Online repository (ORO), by depositing data or code in the Open Research Data Online repository (ORDO) or by making a short video to show your findings.

About KMi

KMi is a Computer Science Research & Development Lab. We are a diverse, multi-national bunch passionate about what we do. We treat everyone as a valued team member, be they professors, researchers, post-grad students or other non-academic staff. We believe in research that impacts the real world with real users.

A Photo of all KMi staff

Aims of the Scholarship

Among the visitors who come to KMi every summer, there has been an under-representation of Black people. Black people are also under-represented among computer science post-graduate students. This annual scholarship, aims to improve representation and create greater awareness of computer science research.

Chapter 2 of The Equality Act 2010 allows service providers to take action that may involve treating one group more favourably where this is a proportionate way to help members of that group overcome a disadvantage or participate more fully, or in order to meet needs they have that are different from the population as a whole. This is called 'positive action'.

Previously supported scholars


Scholarship - Photo of Rachel Appiah-Kubi

Rachel Appiah-Kubi

Project: Exploring the biases of AI-generated music artist images

Supervisors: John Domingue and Aisling Third

View Project

Scholarship - Photo of Henok Mekuria

Henok Mekuria

Project: Evaluating prompts for Image Generative AI and sensory explorations

Supervisor: Shuang Ao and Advaith Siddharthan

View Project

Scholarship - Photo of Meron Mana

Meron Mana

Project: Designing, developing and deploying a social robot

Supervisors: Matteo Cancellieri and David Pride

View Project


Scholarship - Photo of Samuel Kwaku Antwi

Samuel Kwaku Antwi

Project: Identifying influential misinformation about vaccines

Supervisors:Retno Larasati and Tracie Farrell

View Project

Scholarship - Photo of Esther Adetunji

Esther Adetunji

Project: Building musical knowledge graphs

Supervisor: Enrico Daga and Paul Mulholland

View Project

Scholarship - Photo of Peter Isagba

Peter Isagba

Project: Turning TikTok Content into NFTs

Supervisors: John Domingue, Aisling Third and Michelle Bachler

View Project


Scholarship - Photo of Azizah Blackwood

Azizah Blackwood

Project: Misinfo.Me Bot

Supervisors: Tracie Farrell and Lara Piccolo

Scholarship - Photo of Reece Davis

Reece Davis

Project: Benchmarking Environmental Sensors

Supervisor: Lara Piccolo

Scholarship - Photo of Kaushal Kumar

Kaushal Kumar

Project: Robot Assistants in the Wild

Supervisors: Agnese Chiatti and Gianluca Bardaro

Latest Seminar
Shuang Ao
Knowledge Media Institute

Building Trustworthy AI: Uncertainty Quantification and Failure Detection in Large Vision-Language Models

Watch the live webcast


Knowledge Media Institute
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United Kingdom

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