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  • 3 Apr 2019 2:51 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    Back in the black, but vision for science veers off track

    The 2019/2020 Federal Budget has missed the opportunity to invest in solution-making scientific and technological research and Australia’s world-class institutions and agencies that make it possible.

    President of Science & Technology Australia, Professor Emma Johnston AO, said the Federal Budget was a mixed result for Australia’s science and technology driven future. Read more here

  • 13 Mar 2019 7:30 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    Dr Michael Waller, BCA Program Coordinator at the University of Queensland, accepts the Award on behalf of member universities, from Prof Adrian Barnett

    Dr Michael Waller, BCA Program Coordinator at the University of Queensland, accepts the Award on behalf of member universities, from Prof Adrian Barnett

    The Statistical Society of Australia has awarded the 2019 President’s Award for Leadership in Statistics to the Biostatistics Collaboration of Australia (BCA).

    This award is for the BCA’s outstanding contribution to statistics based on their sustained work since 2001 to provide Australia with much needed skills in biostatistics, which includes research in genetics, clinical trials and public health.

    The BCA has a great national reputation and its students are highly prized for jobs in health and medical research, an area that has a growing need for statistical skills because of the increasing size and complexity of data.

    The President of the Statistical Society of Australia, Professor Adrian Barnett, said, “The BCA has been of enormous national value for the field of statistics. It has brought together some of our most experienced statisticians to pass on their skills to students. I know that other fields have aimed to copy the BCA’s collaborative model, which is the ultimate form of flattery.”

    The BCA is a consortium of biostatistical experts from across Australia with representatives from universities, government and clinical practice who have combined to offer a national (and international) program of postgraduate courses via an alliance of six universities, being The University of Adelaide, Macquarie University, Monash University, The University of Queensland, The University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne (affiliate member).

    It was established because of the national shortage of statisticians with expertise in the health industry and medical research, and has served to raise the standard of scientific rigour in health and medical research.

    The BCA has graduated 552 students since 2001 and at the start of semester one, 2019, there were 387 students enrolled in the BCA program.

    “The BCA has filled an important gap in our national skill set, and at the 2018 national Statistical Society conference there was a strong consensus that Australia needs more investment in biostatistics to meet the growing demand.” Professor Barnett said. 

  • 12 Mar 2019 12:44 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    South Australian Branch Meeting, February 2019

    Fernando Marmolejo-Ramos is a visiting research fellow at the School of Psychology and casual lecturer at the School of Education, both at the University of Adelaide. From November 2014 to December 2016, he was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Department of Psychology at Stockholm University (Sweden). His research interests include the embodiment of language and emotions, cross-modality, and statistics/methodology. So it was good to have Fernando give an informative and interesting talk about making the most of your curves, with a sub-title towards robust and distributional approaches to data description and analyses.

    The goal of Fernando’s talk was to highlight how the shape of the data can be better described by identifying their location, scale and shape parameters. Across many fields it’s canonical to describe data in terms of means and standard deviations. While such estimations of location and scale are appropriate for normally distributed data, more often than not data tend to follow non-normal shapes (e.g. reaction times). Fernando used a range of datasets from different fields to highlight his points. Indeed, most statistical tests assume normality and homogeneity of variance in order to output unbiased results; therefore, biased results occur when data do not meet those assumptions.

    For more information contact .

    By Paul Sutcliffe

  • 28 Feb 2019 2:15 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    Outstanding contributions to science have been recognised by the Australian Academy of Science with 20 of Australia’s leading scientists receiving a 2019 honorific award. One of them is our very own Professor Alan Welsh FAA, Australian National University. Read more here.

  • 24 Aug 2018 9:00 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    Big data is exploding so rapidly around the world, there are not enough skilled operators to handle and interpret it.

    The demand for expert data professionals is outstripping supply many times over, an international group of scholars and educators warned today.

    Details of a global project to beef up the teaching of data studies in high schools in countries around the world and to train school teachers in data science, as a science of central importance to the human future have been released by the group.

    “The last decade has seen spectacular growth in data collection and usage in most areas of human endeavour – from government to business, to health, science and the environment,” a spokesman for the group, Nick Fisher, said.

    “The scale and complexity of the data now being amassed are far beyond the ability of single computers or individuals to manage. We need teams of data science experts working together in real time, around the world. That is why we have launching an urgent project aimed at meeting the global shortfall in trained data science professionals.

    “At the same time there is an urgent need for ordinary people to be able to understand and use the data now available to them – whether it is about their health, their financial situation, in their job or education.”

    “The project is a collaborative activity involving leading computer scientists, statistical scientists, curriculum experts and teachers from Australia, Canada, England, Germany Holland, New Zealand and the USA and supported by several national and international societies, groups and companies. 

    The aim of the International Data Science in Schools Project (IDSSP) is to transform the way data science is taught the last two years of secondary school.  Its objectives are:

    1. To ensure that school children develop a sufficient understanding and appreciation of how data can be acquired and used to make decisions so that they can make informed judgments in their daily lives, as children and then as adults
    2. To inspire mathematically able school students to pursue tertiary studies in data science and its related fields, with a view to a career.

    “In both cases, we want to teach people how to learn from data,” Dr Fisher said.

    Two curriculum frameworks are being created to support development of a pre-calculus course in data science that is rigorous, engaging and accessible to all students, and a joy to teach.  

    • Framework 1 (Data Science for students).  This framework is designed as the basis for developing a course with a total of some 240 hours of instruction.
    • Framework 2 (Data Science for teachers).  As a parallel development, this framework is designed as the basis for guiding the development of teachers from a wide variety of backgrounds (mathematics, computer science, science, economics, …) to teach a data science course well.      

    Dr Fisher said that the draft frameworks will be published for widespread public consultation in early 2019 before completion by August.

    “We envisage the material will be used not just in schools, but also as a valuable source of information for data science courses in community colleges and universities and for private study.”

    For further information:, or visit

  • 18 Aug 2018 12:58 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    One of the outcomes that emerged from ISCB-ASC2018 held in Melbourne in August 2018 was a Statement of Action on Statistics in Health and Medical Research.

    This statement identifies urgent priority areas for action by relevant stakeholders (funding agencies, academic sector, biostatistics research community and professional societies) to protect and grow Australia’s capacity and leadership in the critical field of biostatistics. The statement emerged from a meeting of conference delegates held on Thursday 30 August 2018 to discuss the importance of biostatistical methodology to ensuring the value of health and medical research, and our national capacity and needs in this area. The background to these discussions is summarised and the action points identified 

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