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  • 24 Nov 2022 10:59 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    COMMERCIALISATION CONNECTOR AND RESEARCH ROCKSTAR TO LEAD STA



    A visionary “connector of commercialisation” and research rockstar Professor Sharath Sriram is Science & Technology Australia’s new President-elect.

    Professor Sriram of RMIT has a remarkable track record of connecting industry and researchers - he has created more than $6 million in commercial partnerships for his university over the past five years. 

    Leading-edge work from his teams includes smart bedding products for aged-care support, a wearable for continuous molecular monitoring, and miniature biosensors for monitoring respiratory illnesses.

    Professor Sriram, who currently serves as STA’s Policy Chair, has driven this success by working closely with industry partners, learning deeply about commercialisation processes, and by becoming a key point of contact for businesses looking to reach into the university system for solutions to challenges.

    His team now consists of 47 staff, including scientists and engineers, and they work closely with teams from the business and design schools at the university. 

    Professor Sriram will succeed current STA President Professor Mark Hutchinson at the STA Annual General Meeting in November 2023, after serving as President-elect for the next 12 months.

    Other impressive science and technology leaders elected to STA’s Executive at today’s AGM include:
    - Jas Chambers (Founder of Ocean Decade Australia) who was re-elected as Secretary.
    - Dr Kathy Nicholson (Operations Manager at the Australian Institute for Machine Learning) who will become STA’s new Policy Chair after serving as Deputy Policy Chair; and
    - Superstar of STEM Dr Jiao Jiao Li (Early Career Researcher at UTS) who succeeds Dr Chloe Taylor as Early Career Representative.

    STA President Professor Mark Hutchinson congratulated Professor Sriram and the newly-elected Executive and Board Directors - applauding the stellar talent STA attracts to its governance team.

    “The science and technology sector is blessed with extraordinary talented leaders who contribute energy, insights and expertise to the nation’s peak body for science and technology,” he said.

    “Sharath will be an outstanding President for Science & Technology Australia and champion for our thriving membership community. He brings vast expertise in policy, commercialisation and innovation.” 

    “Amid an urgent imperative to turn more great Australian science and engineering into new jobs, he is the perfect person to lead this inspiring organisation - a role model connector of commercialisation.”

    Science & Technology Australia’s President-elect Professor Sharath Sriram said he was honoured to have been entrusted by the 105,000-strong STA members to lead the organisation.

    “I am excited and deeply honoured to lead Science & Technology Australia and represent the interests of the science and technology community to policymakers, industry and the Australian public,” he said.

    “I want to help more Australian researchers deepen connections with industry and bridge the ‘valley of death’ in commercialisation, and be a powerful advocate to deepen Australia’s investments in discovery science.”

    “I look forward to working with Mark over the next year as President-elect. He is an exceptional leader of STA who has delivered vast advocacy success for our sector and rapid growth for the organisation.”

    Also elected/re-elected to the STA Board at this election were:
    - Agricultural & Food Sciences: Mr Michael Walker (re-elected for a second term)
    - Biological Sciences: Dr Tatiana Soares da Costa (re-elected for a second term)
    - Chemical Sciences: Ms Francesca Gissi (Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry)
    - Geographical & Geological Sciences: Ms Sarah Kachovich (International Ocean Discovery Program)
    - Mathematical Sciences: Professor Chris Matthews
    - Physical Sciences: Professor Jodie Brady (re-elected for a second term)
    - Plant & Ecological Sciences: Ms Bek Christensen (Ecological Society of Australia)
    - Technological Sciences: Dr Vipul Agarwal (re-elected for a second term)
    - General Sciences: Ms Heather Catchpole (re-elected for a second term)

    About Science & Technology Australia
    Science & Technology Australia is the nation’s peak body representing more than 105,000 scientists and technologists. We’re the leading policy voice on science and technology. Our flagship programs include Science Meets Parliament, Superstars of STEM, and STA STEM Ambassadors
     

    Media contact: 
    Martyn Pearce - 0432 606 828


  • 10 Nov 2022 10:20 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    Are you an early or mid-career statistician looking for support to grow and develop your career? Or, are you a more experienced statistician looking to share your skills and experience with a new generation of statisticians? If either of these sound like you then this program may be for you!

    The Statistical Society of Australia is now seeking applications from mentees and mentors, for the next program intake in 2023. We are looking for up to 20 mentor-mentee pairs to take part in the 6-month mentoring program.

    Our aim

    This program will connect early and mid-career statisticians to experienced mentors to provide them with career guidance and to share their experiences to help them achieve their professional goals.

    Mentees

    We are looking to recruit early to mid-career statisticians to take part in the mentoring program. To be eligible to participate, you must be either a student or within the first ten years of a career in statistics, a member of the SSA, and be willing to commit to participating in the program over a 6-month period.

    Mentors

    We are looking to recruit mentors who have at least five years’ experience working as a statistician. Note that mentors will be paired with mentees with less experience working in statistics (i.e., those with less than five years’ experience will not be paired with mentees with more than five years). To be eligible to participate, you must be a member of the SSA and be willing to commit to participating in the program over a 6-month period. Prior mentorship experience would be beneficial but is not a requirement for participation.

    Program details

    The SSA Mentoring Committee, a sub-committee of the Continuous Professional Development committee, will match mentors to mentees and contact the mentee to seek approval to introduce them to the proposed mentor. Each mentor will only be assigned one mentee. Mentees are responsible for arranging the initial meeting and establishing ongoing meetings with their mentor. Ideally, mentors and mentees should aim to meet at least monthly for one hour during the program, with a minimum of four meetings over six months. There is no requirement that mentors and mentees live in the same city; meetings do not have to be face-to-face and may be held via phone or Zoom as necessary. A member of the Mentoring Committee will be in touch throughout the program to learn how things are progressing and to help resolve any issues that arise. There is no expectation that the relationship will continue beyond the 6-month program. However, we would be delighted if mentor-mentee pairs continue to keep in touch!

    In addition to the paired mentoring, mentees and mentors will be given the opportunity to participate in a peer mentoring group to share experiences and build greater connections within the SSA community.

    Further details about the program will be provided before the program commences.

    Interested?

    To register your interest in participating in the mentoring program, please complete the following form by Sunday 11th December. Successful applicants will be notified by the 20th January (Mentees) and 30th January (Mentors), with training scheduled for the end of February. The program will run for 6 months from March to August 2023.

    If you have any questions about the mentoring program, please email the SSA Mentoring Committee.


  • 9 Nov 2022 9:52 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    Mr Zhi Yang

    SSA Canberra is delighted to announce that Mr Zhi Yang Tho from the ANU is the winner of the 2022 Dennis Trewin Prize! Zhi Yang received $1,000 for his presentation on Joint Mean and Correlation Regression Modelling for Multivariate Data.

    The Dennis Trewin Prize, named after the former Australian Statistician, is an award for early career research in statistics or data science conducted within the ACT or regional NSW. This year, the Prize was modified from a video submission format to live presentations, resulting in a more engaging and exciting event. We had three brilliant presentations on the day, and the selection panel had much difficulty deciding the placement of speakers.

    We would like to thank the participants for sharing their research, Dennis and the selection panel for their deliberations on the day, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) for sponsoring the Prize.

    By Nelson Chua, on behalf of the SSA Canberra council

  • 9 Nov 2022 9:48 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    SSA NSW Branch – October Meeting

    On the evening of 26th October, Professor Brian Cullis from the University of Wollongong presented a talk titled “Optimal Design of Comparative Experiments and the ODW R Package”. 

    Brian’s talk was divided into two main parts. In the first part, he gave an overview of optimal designs for multiphase experiments, particularly model-based designs using the linear mixed model with correlated treatment effects. The optimality of the designs are based on some criteria, such as D-, G-, and A-optimality. Since these designs typically involve many components, finding an optimal design is usually done through an intensive search process of the design space. As such, having computer software that can generate optimal designs given a set of requirements is desirable, which is a primary aim of the ODW R package that Brian and his collaborators are pursuing. 

    In the second part, he introduced core functions of the ODW R package and demonstrated flexible uses of the package to search for optimal designs of various types. 

    Finally, Brian gave several examples of when the package was used to obtain designs for an experiment regarding genotypes of desi chickpea. The seminar concluded with questions from the audience about both the technical details and applications of the ODW package.

    Linh Nghiem
    NSW Branch Newsletter Correspondent 

  • 4 Nov 2022 12:38 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)



    At a time of intense pressure on public finances, last week’s federal Budget included some modest but important new investments in science and technology. Science & Technology Australia welcomed the Government’s recognition that science is one of the smartest strategic investments we can make in the country’s economic future. Science Minister Ed Husic posted this helpful explainer of Budget initiatives in his key portfolios. 

    As always, Science & Technology Australia held a Post-Budget Briefing to share extra detail with our members on the Budget outlook for STEM, the research sector (including universities and Australia’s major research granting agencies) and industry sectors. STA’s Policy Director Dr Sarah Tynan - with quality input from across the STA staff team, our Policy Chair Sharath Sriram and President Mark Hutchinson - shared our analysis of key measures and consultation opportunities. Our members can access our policy brief in the members-only section of the STA website.

    On Friday, we also convened the powerful grassroots STEM leadership network of Science & Technology Australia at our annual Leadership Dialogue. This event ensures valuable insights from the membership on issues affecting the science and technology sector inform our advocacy in the year ahead. This gives STA a uniquely powerful ability to speak on behalf of the nation’s scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians.

    The 2022 Leadership Dialogue started to gather crucial insights to feed into the Government’s plan to revitalise Australia’s Science Priorities

    The review’s terms of reference propose expressly elevating and investing in First Nations science. At our Leadership Dialogue, Science & Technology Australia’s 111-strong member organisation network and the thousands of scientists they represent unanimously backed this proposal. It was a powerful endorsement from Australia’s science community for Australia to elevate the vast STEM knowledge and deep expertise of First Nations people, communities and organisations in Australia’s national science and research priorities.

    Next week will see an historic first in-person gathering for the National Indigenous STEM Professionals Network (NISTEMP) on Gadigal Country in Sydney. NISTEMP draws together champions and leaders in First Nations STEM to mentor the next generations into STEM studies and careers, and deepen the exchange of First Nations STEM knowledges. STA has been honoured to support the formation of the network since 2020, and STA President Professor Mark Hutchinson and I are delighted to attend the inaugural event at UTS.

    We are delighted this fortnight to welcome four new STA member organisations: Australian Science Communicators, Beaker Street, The Centre of Resource Excellence Learning Foundation, and the Australian National Phenome Centre. Australian Science Communicators  is the peak body for science communicators and science journalists in Australia. Beaker Street is a brilliant Tasmania-based not-for-profit making science accessible to all and connecting the public with science and scientists. The Centre of Resource Excellence Learning Foundation works to broaden the opportunities for students to succeed in STEM careers that are aligned with the needs of industries and economies of the future by turbo-charging how we teach STEM in schools. And the Australian National Phenome Centre is a bioscience powerhouse that is solving some of the world’s most challenging problems in food, health and the environment.

    We are thrilled to welcome them all as members, and add their voice and expertise to our advocacy for the sector.

    Want to work with your local Parliamentarian, represent the science community and get your expertise to decision-makers? Apply now for STA’s prestigious STEM Ambassadors program. We have 25 MPs and Senators from around the country eager to forge a relationship with a STEM professional. But be quick, applications for this sought-after program close on Monday.

    Finally, congratulations to our amazing STA Superstar of STEM Dr Zoe Doubleday, who won an ATSE Award for her groundbreaking work to develop new tracing technologies to prevent seafood fraud, and Dr Marissa Betts, whose beautiful film Rola: Stone took out the Geoscience Professionals Award at the Earth Futures Festival. You can watch that stunning short film here. Congratulations also to Professor Saeid Nahavandi from our member organisation The Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation at Deakin University. Professor Nahavandi won the ATSE Clunies Ross Entrepreneur of the Year Award for his incredible work on intelligent systems and simulation technologies, including haptics.   

    Until next time, 

    Misha Schubert 
    CEO, Science & Technology Australia 


  • 3 Nov 2022 2:51 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    For the SA Branch September 2022 meeting, Prof Adrian Barnett (QUT) gave a presentation over zoom from Queensland; his talk a damning exposition on Bad Statistics in Medical Research. 

    We began with an example of a Covid 19 study published in The Lancet, where 75% of subjects were excluded because they were still hospitalised or not confirmed as infected. Despite this major statistical flaw, the paper has been cited over 25,000 times. During the pandemic there has been pressure to publish research about Covid-19 quickly, however, it is plain to see the danger in scientists lowering the standard of their research, when the requirement for trust in science has never been so high. 

    Adrian presented a number of examples of the misunderstandings of stats common in medical research, some baffling and even humorous. These included the assumption that continuous raw data must be normally distributed in order for statistical analysis to be valid; excluding outliers (when they can be the most interesting part of the data!); and an over-reliance on p-values to provide all the information about the analysis. The interpretation of p-values can also be faulty, but faulty interpretations are often accepted with the attitude of: “It's okay, since everyone else treats them this way too”. 

    Next, we considered the distribution of z-values extracted from confidence intervals in a medical journal and noted that this had the shape of a normal distribution with a chunk missing in the middle - indicating that studies with a negative result (non-significant results) are often excluded from publication. Adrian went as far as to call this research misconduct. 

    Adrian's suggestions for fixing the problem include:

    • Abandoning p-values and statistical significance in reporting;
    • Stop funding projects to make prediction models - unless a statistician is a principle investigator.

    We also considered the introduction of a statistical audit, where a random selection of 100 papers per year are selected for audit by a statistician, to check the research and also whether they can reproduce the results. 

    A statistical robot might also be put to use: an algorithm that can flag potential statistical problems in a paper and possibly detect fraudulent results. 

    The presentation also included a number of lamentable figures from real publications, such as pie charts that distort the data, and a 3D bar chart that resembled pieces of fudge. 

    The presentation ended with a lively discussion, with many weighing in on the problem of bad stats and how we might fix it. In response to the question, if we don't rely on p-values, then what do we use? Adrian conceded that sometimes results are complicated, but ultimately science is hard - and we should celebrate that.

    By Annie Conway

  • 3 Nov 2022 8:05 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    Nominations are now being accepted for the 2022 Tjanpi Award, the annual student prize for best student paper in environmental statistics, sponsored by the SSA Environmental Statistics Section.  To be eligible a student must be:

    • An author of a paper that has been accepted in the previous 12 months, having made a substantial contribution to the work
    •  A student as of June 30 2022
    • A current member of the SSA and the Environmental Statistics Section

    The winner will receive $500 and will be asked to present in an invited session on environmental statistics at the next annual stats conference (in Wollongong, 2023).

    Please submit your nominations to eo@statsoc.org.au, with Tjanpi Award submission in the header, by 5 PM AEDT, Thursday 8 December 2022, including:

    - Full name, institution

    - Paper, as one pdf file.

    - Letter of support from supervisor or other academic at the institution, confirming student status of applicant and describing the student's role in the paper.


    Image: Central Australian landscape dominated by Tjanpi, photo by Sara Winter 

    Tjanpi is the Pitjantjatjara word for Triodia, a spiny tussock-forming grass that dominates the vegetation across more than 20% of Australia’s land mass.  It is a long-lived plant that makes deep roots and can withstand the hardiest of conditions.  It can grow over decades into characteristic ring formations three metres in diameter.  As a source of food and shelter, Tjanpi is fundamental to life in some of Australia’s most extreme conditions, being central to highly diverse ecosystems dominated by termites and ants, as well as reptiles, birds and small mammals.  It has also been traditionally used by Indigenous people for a range of purposes, including building shelters, making an adhesive resin, basket weaving, fishing and using its seeds as a food source. 

    Tjanpi is an analogy for the Environmental Statistics student award – because the development and application of appropriate statistical techniques is fundamental to good environmental research, and our hope is that the recipient of this award will grow over the coming decades to become central to a diverse range of interesting research endeavours!

     

  • 25 Oct 2022 7:54 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    Would you like to become a committee member for the SSA Mentoring Program?

    The SSA mentoring committee has begun planning the third year of its successful mentoring program. The program provides an opportunity for emerging statisticians to develop personal and professional skills, as well as providing connections between statisticians from across the nation.

    This wonderful initiative is developed and managed by the SSA Mentoring Committee (pictured below). We are a team of statisticians eager to increase the support available to our community for success in the workplace. The committee is dedicated to delivering a program that meets the needs of its diverse range of mentees. To do this, the committee is seeking expertise, experience and perspectives to ensure diverse representation of the statistics community. Do you have the fresh new voice we’re looking for? Please get in touch!

    To express your interest in joining the SSA Mentoring Committee, or for more information, please email us via ssa.mentoring@gmail.com with a couple of paragraphs about yourself and why you are keen to get involved.


  • 14 Oct 2022 2:17 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    In September, the NSW Branch hosted four industry speakers and approximately 50 students at the Courtyard Cafe at the University of Sydney. Despite some drizzles on the day, the event was well-attended and had a vibrant atmosphere. This event was partially sponsored by the Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association (SUPRA). 

    The event began with an acknowledgement of the country by our Young Statistician Representative, Yidi Yan. The President of SUPRA, Yuning Zhang, and the Vice President of NSW Branch Dr Thomas Fung, introduced the audience to their respective organisations and encouraged the students to stay in touch with some upcoming events which will offer great benefits to the students. I had the pleasure of introducing each of our four great panellists. 

    The first panellist was Rachel Ragell from Lion. Rachel presented two case studies in her talk, one on greenhouse gas emission reduction and the other on beer demand forecast in the post-COVID recovery. These case studies allowed the audience to get a glimpse into how statistics can be applied to widely different industry projects. Rachel ended her talk with some valuable career interview tips for the students. 

    The second panellist was Dr Stanislaus (Stani) Stadlmann from QBE Insurance. Stani presented his career journey which began in Gottingen, Germany but ultimately brought him to Australia. Through his own experience, Stani shared with us how he planned his career in statistics and data science and reminded us of the importance of finding our own passions and empathy for others. 

    The third panellist was Dr Nancy Briggs from UNSW Stats Central consulting unit. Even though UNSW is an academic institution, Nancy had previously worked in various industries and loved talking to people about their statistical challenges. Statisticians often have the luxury of working on many different projects and Nancy is certainly one of them! She has done work on projects in psychology, image object detection and cancer therapies. These projects highlight the importance of statistics as a powerful tool in scientific discoveries.

    Our last panellist was Dr Earo Wang from Canva. She connected with the audience immediately because the company is well-known in the student community as the go-to tool for visual design. Earo introduced her role at Canva as a data analyst working on website utilisation forecaster. Such a role seemed perfect for Earo as her doctoral training was in the area of time series forecasting. 

    After each of our panellists have introduced themselves, the event proceeded with a networking session so the eager students can have the opportunity to chat with our panellists. The session is well-supported by a catering of pizzas and beers and as far as I can tell, everyone at the event had a great time and got important career-related questions answered. 


    Kevin Wang
    Councillor of the SSA NSW Branch

  • 12 Oct 2022 5:09 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    Science and Technology Australia (STA) will hold “Science meets Parliament” (SmP) again next year. This event provides the opportunity for scientists and technologists to interact with the Government's key decision makers. SmP 2023 comes at a time when science, technology, engineering and mathematics are high on the political agenda. SmP 2023 will build on the strong tradition of fostering relationships and understanding between scientists and technologists, MPs and Senators.

    As a member of STA, the Statistical Society of Australia (SSA) is invited to be represented at SmP. This is a unique development opportunity which SSA would like to give to one of its "Early Career or Student Statisticians”. Our definition of an "Early Career or Student Statistician” (ECSS) is a person enrolled for a degree who is studying either full-time or part-time without age limit, OR a person who graduated with a Bachelor's degree within the past five years, OR a person awarded a postgraduate degree within the past year. The Society will pay the registration fee and reasonable travel expenses for our representative at SmP.

    Next year's event consists of two parts: SmP will start with the opportunity for high quality professional development, delivered on a virtual platform across three days from 7-9 March 2023 during business hours. Sessions will also be recorded and available for two weeks after the event.

    Part II will take place in person either on 15 March or 22 March 2023, depending on next year’s Parliamentary Sitting Calendar. The day on the “Hill” will feature:

    • Meetings between SMP Delegates and Members of Parliament (meetings for STEM professionals only)

    • Additional training and personal development sessions

    • Attendance at Question Time

    • National Press Club Address

    • National Gala Dinner in the Great Hall at Parliament House

    In 2022, SmP organised 64 meetings with scientists and Parliamentarians. It was attended by 528 delegates and featured 68 speakers. Attendees of previous SmPs described the event as “an awesome primer”, “a very useful opportunity to engage with important political stakeholders” and “an excellent experience to develop skills and network at the highest levels”.

    If you are a Society member who meets the ECSS criteria and would like to attend SmP, please email your informal application with your CV to the Executive Officer (eo@statsoc.org.au) before Thursday, 3 November 2022. Your application email should include a little bit about yourself, why you would like to attend SmP, how attendance could potentially enhance your career, and what you as a representative of SSA can contribute to SmP.

    The successful applicant is expected to provide a report about their SmP experience by Thursday, 6 April 2023. This report will be published in the SSA newsletter and on the SSA website.

    More information about SmP is available here.

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