SSA December 2019 eNews

Christmas and New Year Greetings

...and welcome to the last SSA newsletter of the year.

After initially not being able to think of something to write about this month, I then found myself not being able to stop once I started!

As a result my contribution to the newsletter became so long that I ran out of space on this page. Please click here to read my December contribution.

There will be no January newsletter as our many dedicated newsletter contributors are taking a well-deserved break.

Would you please note that the SSA office will be closed from 20 December until 6 January?

Best wishes for the holiday season.

Marie-Louise Rankin, 
Executive Officer, SSA


Science Meets Parliament 2019

Science Meets Parliament is an excellent opportunity for scientists to connect with parliamentarians. The event, which took place on 26-27th November in the nation’s capital, witnessed enlightening discussions between 200 scientists, communicators, and policymakers. Early-career researchers, Carmen Lim and Janan Arslan, were thrilled to be selected by SSA to attend the prestigious event and wrote a great article about their exciting experience.

Read the full article here

E.A. Cornish Lecture: Nonlinear models of species-environment relationships with modern tools for misbehaving errors

The SA Branch was pleased to welcome Distinguished Professor Marti J. Anderson, from the New Zealand Institute for Advanced Study (NZIAS) at Massey University in Auckland, to give the tenth E.A. Cornish Memorial Lecture. She is an ecological statistician whose research spans a diverse range of areas, including community ecology, biodiversity, multivariate analysis, models of ecological count data, experimental design and resampling methods, with a special focus on creating new applied statistics for ecology that can yield new insights into global patterns of biodiversity.
Her talk was based on a fundamental question in ecology – How do species respond to spatial or environmental gradients?

To answer this question, a variety of models were discussed, starting with problems with polynomial and Gaussian models as well as splines, and concluding with a range of flexible nonlinear parametric mathematical functions to model the mean response, coupled with a variety of potential error structures. Examples were given using these functions to model the responses of different fish species in the NE Pacific along a large depth gradient, and latitudinal changes in the spatial distributions of warm and cold-water plankton species in the northern Atlantic over time.

Click here to continue...

Vic Branch end-of-the-year-event

We all count

The Victorian branch final event for 2019 was a series of short talks and panel discussion on current activities within Australia and globally to promote strengthening stats and maths through gender diversity. 

Read about this special event here

More from the Vic Branch

We're pleased to report that our two-day series of workshops in Nov 2019, covering both Python and R, was a success.  Our Python workshops proved to be particularly popular. 

Read more

More from YSC2019

The 2019 Young Statisticians Conference was held in Canberra in October. Here are more reports from some of the participants:

Aya Alwan

Haruki Jeremy Osaka

Sarah Romanes 

Society Awards

The Society awards a gold medal, the Pitman Medal, at most once annually, in recognition of outstanding achievement in, and contribution to, the discipline of Statistics. Honorary Life Membership honours outstanding contribution to the profession and the Society, while a Society Service Award may be awarded to a Society member in recognition of sustained and significant service to the Society.  

An Awards Committee, chaired by the President of the Society, makes recommendations to the Society’s Central Council as to appropriate Award recipients. Pitman Medals and Honorary Life Memberships are usually announced at the Society’s Conference.

Members of the Society are encouraged to propose suitable recipients of the Pitman Medal, Honorary Life Membership or a Society Service Award. Suggestions, with brief supporting information, should be emailed to the undersigned. 

A list of past recipients of the Pitman Medal can be viewed here.

Doug ShawSecretary

Election of Executive Members

Members are advised that the Executive positions of Secretary and Treasurer will become vacant at the Society’s Central Council Annual General Meeting in 2020. The SSA Rules provide for a Nominating Committee, consisting of the current Executive and the Branch Presidents, to solicit nominations and submit a list of nominees to Central Council. Should an election be required, Central Council will then arrange a ballot of all financial members of the Society.

Members of SSA are invited to submit nominations for the two positions to be vacated. Nominations must be in writing and signed by the nominator(s), and must be accompanied by a written and signed statement from the nominee accepting the nomination.  Nominations should be submitted to the SSA President or to a Branch President before 31st January, 2020. 

Doug ShawSecretary

WA Branch October Meeting

Presenting Uncertainty and Risk

Dr John Henstridge (Chief Statistician and Managing Director of Data Analysis Australia) spoke on “Presenting Uncertainty and Risk” at the WA branch October meeting. Henstridge outlined areas where uncertainty is frequently misunderstood by non-statisticians and gave suggestions for statisticians to more effectively communicate uncertainty in their work.

Read more here

Update from the Bayes Section

The Bayes on the Beach workshop was held on the Gold Coast in November, with more than 80 attendees from around Australia and internationally. There were also two satellite workshops held during the week, the symposium on Data Science for Social Good at QUT and the workshop on Bayesian Logistic Regression in Practice, using R or Autostats at Griffith University, Gold Coast.

On behalf of SMRI Executive Director Anthony Henderson

The current application round of the International Visitor Program of the University of Sydney Mathematical Research Institute (SMRI) closes on Monday 27 January 2020 (at 11.59pm Sydney time). This program provides funding to support visits to Australian universities by international researchers in the mathematical sciences. The current application round is for visits of at least 1 month taking place within the period October 2020 - June 2021 and including at least 2 weeks spent at SMRI. For full terms and conditions, selection criteria and the application form, and for the current list of SMRI visiting researchers, see the website

Applications from female and gender-diverse researchers, from researchers employed in developing countries, and from researchers belonging to other groups which are underrepresented in the mathematical sciences, are particularly encouraged. Applications for visits not meeting the stated conditions, including visits earlier than the specified period, may be accepted in special circumstances with prior arrangement. In cases where an arranged visit cannot go ahead as planned because of unexpected personal factors, it may be possible to reschedule the visit for a later period subject to consultation. Please direct questions about the conditions to SMRI Executive Director Anthony Henderson.

Passionate about STEM?

If you’re passionate about evidence-based, science-informed policy, apply now with Science & Technology Australia to become a STEM Ambassador !

The STEM Ambassador Program connects STEM professionals with Federal decision makers. This is an amazing opportunity for you to help bridge the gap between science and parliament.

You’ll work directly with your local MP to help build understanding and engagement between science and parliament, and encourage the involvement of science in Australian politics and decision making.

STA is seeking applicants from a wide range of science, technology, and engineering jobs. STEM Ambassadors are provided appropriate training and support by Science & Technology Australia. 

Found out more here

Did you see our webinars?

Did you miss our webinars with Noel Cressie or Mark Griffin? You can catch them here. You will need to log in before you can view the page. 

Access Webinar Library

Worried about being bored over the holidays?

No need! Check out our ever growing video library and catch up on branch talks you may have missed. New videos are added each month and here are the latest ones:

Presenting Uncertainty and Risk – John Henstridge

Statistics is the Crown Jewel of Data Science – Antoni Ugoni

Detecting botnet activity using machine learning – Jill Slay

Access Video Library

A message from YSC2019 Sponsor UniBank

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SSA events you can look forward to:


6-10 July 2020, Gold Coast

27 June - 1 July 2022, Darwin

See more events listed here.

ATSIMA 2020 Conference

Monday 27 to Wednesday 29 July 2020

‘Nhe waŋana’ ‘Nhe djämamirriyaŋana’ ’Speak it' “You create it'

Transforming mathematics education for Indigenous learners

NOW OPEN - Registration and submissions to present

See conference website for details

Statistical Society of Australia |  PO Box 213 Belconnen ACT 2616 Australia 

02 6251 3647 |