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Canberra branch meeting - Bayesian semi-mechanistic modelling with greta for ecology and epidemiology

  • 29 Jan 2024 6:58 AM
    Message # 13307016
    Francis Hui (Administrator)

    SSA Canberra Branch will be holding its first meeting for 2024 on Tuesday 6th February in person and via Zoom. The meeting is earlier in the year than usual as we are taking the opportunity of availability of the speaker, who is giving a course in Canberra on the following day. As usual, those who wish can meet for dinner afterwards in Civic.

    Please forward to any non-members who may be interested.

    Date: Tuesday 6 February 2024

    Time: 5:45pm – 7:00pm AEDT   

    VenueRoom 4.02 in Marie Reay Teaching Centre, Australian National University (MRTC ANU),  or via Zoom.

    Zoom link:

    RSVP is not required. Full zoom details given at the end of the email.


    Speaker: Professor Nick Golding, Telethon Kids Institute & Curtin University

    Topic: Bayesian semi-mechanistic modelling with greta for ecology and epidemiology


    I will give an overview of the applied statistical modelling work my research group does, including in spatial modelling to support vector-borne disease control, and routine COVID-19 situational assessment analyses for the Australian government throughout the pandemic. All of these application areas rely on the ability to quickly develop and fit Bayesian semi-mechanistic models: which incorporate mechanistic structure and informative priors for those processes we understand well, and correlative statistical terms for those processes we don't understand.

    My team builds these models in R using the greta R package (, the general-purpose MCMC inference engine I built. I'll give an overview of greta and some recent work on extension packages for ecological modelling and predictive mapping. These include integrating population dynamic models into spatial statistical models, and fast solutions to Gaussian Markov random field models (like in the INLA software) using banded matrix operations.


    Professor Nick Golding is a statistical ecologist and infectious disease modeller with a focus on globally-important pathogens. He leads the Infectious Disease Ecology and Modelling group at Telethon Kids Institute in Perth. His work combines mathematical and statistical modelling, ecology, public health, and research software engineering. Since completing a PhD on mosquito ecology, he has developed models and maps of the risk posed by some of the world’s most important and neglected diseases – including malaria, Dengue fever, Chikungunya, Ebola, and COVID-19.



    After the talk we will be holding a dinner at Bistro Nguyen’s, 1/80 Alinga Street, Canberra (cnr of Northbourne Avenue) (Bistro Nguyens – Real Vietnamese in the city).

    If you are interested in attending the dinner, please let us know by 6pm Monday 5 February by entering your details at SSA Canberra Branch dinner attendance sheet or contacting me (; 0407 916 868). Please regard this as a firm commitment, not just an intention. For withdrawals after the deadline, please remove your name from the sheet and phone or text me (0407 916 868).

    NOTE: We are offering discounts to SSA early career and student members who attend dinner! For this meeting, dinners will be a fixed charge of $10 for student members and $20 for early career members. 


    Full Zoom Details:

    Topic: SSA Canberra branch meeting
    Time: Feb 6, 2024 05:45 PM Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney

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