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  • 11 Nov 2021 2:22 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    The SSA Environmental Statistics section proudly announces a new annual student prize for best student paper in environmental statistics.  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 at the end of semester 1 this year (June 30 2021)
    • 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 at the next annual stats conference (in 2023). 

    Please submit your nominations to eo@statsoc.org.au, with Tjanpi Award submission in the header, by 5 PM ADST Thursday 2 December 2021, 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.

     

     

    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!


  • 8 Nov 2021 12:09 PM | 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 excited to invite you to be a part of the 2022 mentoring program for all members of the Society. 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’ experience). 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 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 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 have access mentor/mentee training, to be held virtually in February prior to the program’s commencement, and be given the opportunity to participate in a peer mentoring group of up to five participants 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 form by Sunday 12th December:  Successful applicants will be notified by the 31st January 2022, with training via Zoom between 11am and 3pm AEDT on the 23rd and 24th of February. The program will run from March to August 2022.

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


  • 5 Nov 2021 3:57 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)


     

    Dear Marie-Louise,

    What an inspiration. Seeing the profound contributions to humanity made by the winners of the 2021 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science was cause for such pride. How fitting to see the top prize go to evolutionary biologist Professor Eddie Holmes - the Sydney University scientist who shared the genome sequence of the COVID-19 virus freely online so the world could develop tests and vaccines. It was a game changing moment in the pandemic.

    The eyes of the world have been on the COP26 climate summit this week. "It will be our scientists, our technologists, our engineers, our entrepreneurs, our industrialists and our financiers that will actually chart the path to net zero - and it is up to us as leaders of government to back them in,” the Prime Minister told the gathering.

    Science & Technology Australia is about to release our STEM sector election priorities statement. This major piece of work will frame our shared advocacy heading into an election year. Thanks to all who joined the leadership dialogue at STA’s annual President and CEO Forum to shape the framework.

    We are pleased to announce a webinar for STA members to deepen your knowledge of intellectual property. Presented by staff from IP Australia, the session will be a practical guide to understanding IP rights and how to secure them. At the event registration page you can also shape the content of this session by choosing the top topics you want the presenters to cover in detail.  

    We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible online for the 2021 STA AGM on November 25. The meeting notice and agenda went out yesterday. Please register now if you are the delegate for your member organisation.

    Until next time, 

    Misha Schubert 
    CEO, Science & Technology Australia 

    NEW REPORTS AND POLICY CHANGES OF INTEREST TO STA MEMBERS

    Reports of interest:

    Opportunities for submissions:

    Further information: STA Director of Policy and Advocacy Sarah Tynan - sarah.tynan@sta.org.au


  • 22 Oct 2021 3:12 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    Congratulations to Bob Xia and Sarthak Das

    The Australian Pharmaceutical Biostatistics Group (APBG) are pleased to announce the winners of the APBG Statistics and Data Science Collaboration scholarship. We would like to congratulate Bob Xia (Statistician) and Sarthak Das (Data Scientist) for being selected for this award. Thank you also to all the candidates for their applications, which were of a very high standard.

    Bob and Sarthak will work together on a large simulated dataset provided by the APBG to find an algorithm that best fits the data. They will explore the different approaches biostatisticians and data scientists have of answering important clinical questions. We look forward to hearing from them at an upcoming APBG meeting. 

    This scholarship opportunity was provided by APBG, in partnership with the SSA.  The Australian Pharmaceutical Biostatistics Group is a not-for-profit association of pharmaceutical industry statisticians in Australia, whose mission is to ensure high statistical standards within Australia to assist in the decision processes which provide safe, efficacious and cost-effective health care products produced in a regulated environment for the health and quality of life of people. For more information on the scholarship, please see the original posting.


  • 20 Oct 2021 8:45 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    Congratulations to our SSA Fellowship Funding Award Recipients!

    The SSA extends our congratulations to our latest SSA Fellowship Funding Award Recipients:

    • Clara Grazian, UNSW
    • David Gunawan, University of Wollongong
    • Lauren Kennedy, Monash
    • Houying Zhu, Macquarie University
    • Tao Zou, ANU

    These early career statistical researchers are currently hard at work on their ARC DECRA Fellowship applications. Those whose DECRA applications are successful will receive $3000 to complement their fellowship activities. We wish them, and all of our members applying for DECRAs and Future Fellowships, all the best in the preparation of their applications. A round to support our members applying for NHMRC Investigator Grants (at the Emerging Leadership level) will be opened early in 2022.

    Jessica Kasza
    SSA President

  • 14 Oct 2021 2:14 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    Sieves help us cook pasta and rice, whilst bootstraps come in handy when donning a pair of boots. The September 2021 seminar to the New South Wales branch had nothing to do with cooking or dressing. However, statistics has borrowed these terms quite heavily and Professor Han Lin Shang of Macquarie University's Department of Actuarial Studies and Business Analytics explained how statistical sieves and statistical bootstraps aid the analysis of functional time series data.

    The main parameter of interest throughout the talk was the memory parameter when the time series exhibited long-range dependence. A central question is obtaining confidence intervals for this parameter and a recent Journal of the American Statistical Association paper by the author and two co-authors addressed this problem.

    The rise of functional time series data is due to ongoing improvements in technology, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging for measuring brain function. Han Lin described functional data in stochastic process terms and how functional time series arise when the time series index is a continuous time variable. Despite the continuum aspect of the framework, in practice the measurements are at discrete time points. Professor Shang explained the difference between dense and sparse functional data - with the former having high sampling frequency. Various theoretical constructs such as continuous time covariance functions, Mercer's representation, Karhunen-Loeve expansion and functional auto-regressive integrated moving average models were explained as being useful for analysis of functional time series data.

    Then speaker Shang discussed long-memory processes and formally introduced the memory parameter. Various estimators were described and, based on the speaker's 2020 simulation study, methodology by time series researchers Peng and Whittle were recommended. After that, the branch was told how sieve bootstrapping can be used to obtain confidence intervals for the memory parameter. Simulation results showed good performance of Professor Shang's new methodology.

    At the end of the presentation it was pointed out that the sieve bootstrap approach can be applied to any memory parameter, whilst asymptotic confidence intervals are only possible for a selected range of memory estimators.

    Matt Wand, University of Technology Sydney

  • 11 Oct 2021 4:20 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    Science & Technology Australia Media Release

    Widespread job insecurity, a spike in workloads and fatigue, and devastating job losses are eroding the morale of Australia’s science workforce at a time when we need science at its strongest, new research has found. 

    The ual Professional Scientists Employment and Remuneration Report by Science & Technology Australia and Professional Scientists Australia reveals the mounting toll on scientists of the pandemic and longer-term chronic job insecurity.    

    This year’s survey lays bare a steep drop in morale amid growing exhaustion, mounting workloads and job insecurity from short-term work contracts and the high stakes lottery of science careers relying on competitive grants.

    Science & Technology Australia Chief Executive Officer Misha Schubert said Australia’s scientists desperately needed better job security.

    “There’s a huge risk that many more of our brilliant scientists will hit breaking point and just walk away if we don’t fix this broken system of insecure work,” she said.

    “We need stronger investment in science such as a $2.4 billion Research Translation Fund and much greater job security for scientists to avert a disastrous loss of talent and pursue a science-led recovery.”

    “This year’s federal Budget is a legacy-defining opportunity for a lifeline for Australian science.” 

    Science & Technology President Associate Professor Jeremy Brownlie said the “pincers of the pandemic and precarious work” were taking a brutal toll on scientists.

    “Australia’s scientists have prevented a vast number of deaths in this pandemic - yet our country isn’t supporting them nearly well enough in return,” he said.

    “We’re seeing rising levels of fatigue, a bleak drop in morale, and widespread job insecurity with job losses at universities and precarious short-term contracts.”

    Nearly two-thirds of scientists surveyed said morale at their workplace had fallen in the last year - a steep spike up from one in two who said morale fell in 2020. 

    And seven in ten scientists said fatigue levels had risen this year - another steep rise from the five in ten who said the same last year.

    Almost one in four scientists in today’s survey said they were on a fixed-term contract, with an average length of 18 months, offering very little job security.

    Modelling by Universities Australia estimated 17,300 jobs were lost at universities in 2020, a devastating toll fuelling workloads and job insecurity for staff who remain. 

    Key findings from this year’s scientists survey include:

    ·         62.5 per cent of scientists surveyed said morale fell in their workplace in the last year. That’s a big jump from 45.8 per cent in 2020.

    ·         70.6 per cent of scientists said fatigue had risen over the past year - up from 54.6 per cent in 2020.

    ·         One in four scientists surveyed were on fixed-term work contracts, with an average contract length of just 18 months.

    ·         39.4 per cent of scientists have not had a pay increase in the last 12 months (with pay freezes at many universities amid the pandemic’s financial hit).

    ·         Women scientists earn just 82.8 per cent of male scientists’ salaries - a gender pay gap of 17 per cent.

    ·         One in five scientists (19.9 per cent) indicated they plan to leave the profession entirely in coming years. This figure was 18.3 per cent in 2020.

    ·         Scientists are working an average of 7.5 hours overtime each week. 58.9 per cent said they received no extra pay or compensation for overtime.


    Science & Technology Australia and Professionals Australia run this survey every year to gather accurate data on salaries and workplace conditions. 

    The survey of 1,275 professional scientists ran in June 2021.

    The full report is here.


    Media contact: Martyn Pearce, Science & Technology Australia - 0432 606 828

    If you or anyone you know needs help:

    Lifeline on 13 11 14

    Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or its COVID-19 support service 1800 513 348

    Headspace on 1800 650 890


  • 6 Oct 2021 5:32 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    The SSA Environmental Statistics section proudly announces a new annual student prize for best student paper in environmental statistics.  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 at the end of semester 1 this year (June 30 2021)
    • 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 at the next annual stats conference (in 2023). 

    Please submit your nominations to eo@statsoc.org.au, with Tjanpi Award submission in the header, by 5 PM AEDT Thursday November 4th 2021, 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. 

          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!


  • 30 Sep 2021 2:09 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    The SA branch of the SSA held its Statistics Careers Event on 8 September, 2021. The event was an opportunity for current students and recent graduates to learn about the sorts of roles that statisticians in South Australia are currently working in. A variety of statisticians gave presentations on the places they work, the skills they have developed in their roles, and upcoming opportunities for graduates.

    Sam Rogers represented The Biometry Hub at the University of Adelaide, where statistics and machine learning are used to analyse modern and sophisticated problems in plant breeding, biotechnologies, wine science and human nutrition science.

    Chris Davies spoke about the Australia and New Zealand Dialysis and Transplant Registry (ANZDATA), the national registry which collects data on kidney dialysis and transplant patients.

    Julian Whiting from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) spoke about the role of statisticians in Australia's official statistics agency, and gave some examples of projects he has been involved in.

    Richard Woodman and Barbara Toson from the Flinders Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics (FCEB) discussed their experience of working as statisticians in a medical research group, and the way career paths form out of this work.

    Jennie Louise represented Adelaide Health Technology Assessment (AHTA), and spoke about statistical consulting work and the variety of problems and she and her team have come across.

    Barbara Francis from Avance CRO discussed the sorts of work undertaken by statisticians preparing designs and analyses for clinical trials in a CRO, as well as opportunities and career paths for statisticians in this company.

    Robert Jorissen from SAHMRI spoke about his work on ROSA, the registry of older Australians, and their projects evaluating the epidemiology of aged care in Australia.

    Approximately 15 students attended and enjoyed the opportunity to chat with the invited speakers after the presentations, and were able to gain some insight into their future career paths.

    We thank all the employers and above listed presenters for their continued support of this event within South Australia. All the students had an opportunity to engage and interact with the presenters after the event.

    Annie Conway

  • 27 Sep 2021 10:26 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)


     

    As we hurtle towards the final quarter of 2021, the cumulative effects of lockdowns are hitting hard. We urge everyone in the STA community to ask for help when you need it, and seek out the support and kindness of this remarkable membership network.

    We look forward to seeing many of you at our President and CEO Forum on 11 October. We will convene the nation’s senior STEM sector leadership to set the agenda heading into an election year. This leadership dialogue is always a powerful vehicle for us to use our collective voice. STA is also delighted to be developing an alumni cohort to amplify the work of the Australian Science Policy Fellowship program run by the Office of the Chief Scientist. We will hold a powerful networking opportunity for STA’s senior leaders to expand strategic networks across the public service by meeting Fellows and Alumni at the end of the President and CEO Forum.

    STA has been active on the Australian Research Council pre-prints issue. After a lengthy process, the ARC made a public statement last week reversing the ban on pre-print citations in future funding rounds. The new definition on pre-prints incorporates feedback gathered from our physical sciences members about the myriad tools, datasets and products that are commonly placed on pre-print servers to be cited in cutting-edge research proposals. It is a source of continuing anger in the research community that the revised policy does not resolve the issues for applicants in the current and recent rounds. The ARC is relying on applicants exercising their appeal rights to seek a resolution. STA has continued to raise this matter. Further information on the history of the issue is here.

    There’s a flurry of further STEM policy submissions activity and consultations over the next month. This includes a rapid consultation on standard IP contracts for research organisations, the next steps in the National Research Infrastructure roadmap with an exposure draft expected soon, and an MRFF consultation. More detail on each of these is outlined below. With the change of Science Minister and a new Greens spokesperson on science, we have also renewed relationships with key advisers.

    Our Superstars of STEM continue to smash new media records, with growing public profiles and appearances. Among a host of recent highlights, Superstar Dr Jiao Jiao Li won the Australian final of the Falling Walls competition, and Superstar Dr Vanessa Pirotta and Superstars trainer and Wiradjuri astrophysicist Kirsten Banks appeared on QandA’s science special last night on the ABC.

    Finally, we are in the process of finalising our new Director of Policy and Engagement. I look forward to introducing you to the new appointee soon.

    Until next time, 

    Misha Schubert 
    CEO, Science & Technology Australia 


    MEDICAL RESEARCH FUTURE FUND 2021-26 STRATEGY

    The Australian Medical Research Advisory Board (AMRAB) has opened consultations for the Australian Medical Research and Innovation Strategy. This strategy will be used to ensure a coherent and consistent approach to funding research from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) and will be in place from 2021-26. Along with this review AMRAB is also asking for feedback on their related priorities which must be consistent with the strategy. In both cases they are asking:

    • How could the current strategy be altered to better meet the purpose set out in the MRFF Act?;
    • Current critical and future issues and factors impacting on the health system, including primary prevention, and on the health and medical research sector;
    • Options for how the next strategy could address these critical issues and factors; and
    • Given the new and significant impact of COVID-19 on health services and health research how should the new strategy address COVID-19 related topics and impacts.

    A webinar will be held on September 28. Submissions close October 11.

    UNIVERSITY RESEARCH COMMERCIALISATION - IP FRAMEWORK

    As part of the university research commercialisation project being run by the Department of Education, Skills, and Employment, the Department has developed a standard Intellectual Property framework. The purpose of this framework is to enable university-led research commercialisation and collaboration.

    STA will engage in this consultation. We seek your input on questions posed in the consultation paper, including:

    1. Should such standard agreements be mandatory or optional? 
    2. What is needed to ensure the framework can be applied consistently?
    3. What parts of standard agreements need to be flexible rather than fixed?
    4. If you have experience with the current Australian IP toolkit, what has worked and what hasn’t?
    5. Are there other agreements and process that need to be considered in implementing an IP framework (cross-institutional research, international collaborations, IP resulting from PhD candidate research etc)
    6. If this IP framework has merit, should it be applied to ARC and DESE research programs or all publicly funded research?
    7. What materials would make it easier to implement and understand the new framework?

    To provide input to STA’s submission, please email Policy Manager Peter Derbyshire before 8 October.

    Submissions to the department close 18 October.

    NEW REPORTS AND POLICY CHANGES OF INTEREST TO STA MEMBERS

    Reports of interest:

    Opportunities for submissions:

    Further information: Peter Derbyshire, STA Policy Manager - peter.derbyshire@sta.org.au

    STA MEMBER EVENTS OF INTEREST

    To add a conference or event: contact STA Events & Membership Manager Lucy Guest – lucy.guest@sta.org.au

    GRANTS, FUNDING AND OPPORTUNITIES 

    • If you would like to be one of 100 women in STEMM on the next Homeward Bound voyage you should apply by 14 October. The visionary leadership program runs for one year and culminates in a voyage to Antarctica.
    • Applications are now open for the 2021 Tasmanian STEM Excellence Awards, celebrating Tasmanians who have excelled in their field. Apply by 27 September.
    • The Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) offers undergraduate students from around Australia scholarships to spend their summer holidays working on supervised research projects. The scholarships are open to honours and masters students, and are a fantastic opportunity to broaden academic interests and experience. Apply by 30 September.
    • The Women in Leadership Development program supports women attaining and succeeding in leadership positions in the STEM sector. Applications are open for their 2022 program until 10 October.
    • Curious Minds are looking for enthusiastic women to become volunteer Curious Minds STEM coaches to empower girls in years 9 and 10 to excel in STEM. Applications close Sunday 3 October.
    • Women & Leadership Australia is offering partial scholarships to women in STEM areas wanting to undertake leadership training. Applications close 24 September.
    • The ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science is looking to fill two Research Fellow positions open to female applicants only at a Centre node and in a related research area of your choice.

    STA MEMBER STORIES 

    Do you know of a terrific STEM idea, technology, innovation, product or program that has been successfully commercialised? Then we want to hear from you. STA is launching a new project where we’ll aim to highlight research translation and commercialisation success stories. Get in contact with our Communications Manager, Martyn Pearce.

    Get in the picture: Are you following STA on Instagram? If you’re a member organisation using Insta as one of your communication channels, please follow us and we’ll follow you back!


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