SSA March 2020 eNews

Welcome to the March edition of the SSA newsletter. Another month – another turmoil and right now everyone’s focus is on COVID-19. We have received a number of enquiries regarding ANZSC2020, wondering if the conference will go ahead. The Organising Committee is currently weighing up the options and will make an announcement pertaining to the way forward in the next couple of weeks. Rest assured that those who have registered or will register for the conference will receive a full refund should SSA need to cancel the conference.

The branches’ AGMs will be held before the end of March. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the outgoing committee members for their wonderful contribution to the running of the Society. The members of the Branch Committees are always looking out for our members. The idea of the Family Care Bursaries for attendees of ANZSC2020 was borne out of this spirit, as was the idea of holding a special workshop for SSA volunteers. I’m sure in due course members can look forward to many more membership benefits being added to the list on our website. Keep the suggestions coming!

I hope you’ll stay well, and if you are travelling, I hope your journey will be a smooth one with not too many interruptions.

Marie-Louise Rankin
Executive Officer, SSA

SA Branch of the Statistical Society February meeting

Probability-proportional-to-size ranked-set sampling from stratified populations

The SA Branch welcomed Professor Omer Ozturk, currently on sabbatical from Ohio State University, to our February meeting to speak on his work on probability-proportional-to-size ranked-set sampling from stratified populations. This is the topic of his current research, following on from many years of work on sampling methodology. Omer’s talk took us through a number of examples to demonstrate the value of finite sampling, particularly in agriculture and environmental science.

Click here for more information

Better statistics needed to improve research quality

In case you missed it, a report from the 2019 Research Quality Workshop of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) was released in February 2020. This committee has arisen because of concerns with the quality of health and medical research, with estimates that 85% of health and medical research is currently wasted. The importance of statistics got several mentions in the NHMRC report, and was called a “critical competence” for researchers. The report also mentioned the need for institutional support, including “centrally funded statistical support for research groups”. There was also support for “statisticians as advisors to/members of ethics committees” and we lobbied for this recommendation by writing to the NHMRC with the letter led by members Prof. Sue Wilson (ANU) and Prof. Michael Martin (ANU).

This highlights the value of contributing to consultation processes which have an important statistical component or interest. If there’s an issue of national importance that you’d like our support on, email us to let us know.

Adrian BarnettPresident, SSA

Reducing the gender gap in statistics

The International Mathematical Union Committee for Women in Mathematics has released their report on: “A Global Approach to the Gender Gap in Mathematical, Computing, and Natural Sciences: How to Measure It, How to Reduce It?” (available here). It includes separate sets of recommendations for teachers/parents, local organisations, and scientific societies.

We are always looking for ways to support our female members, and have recently launched the Betty Allan travel award for female researchers and have instigated travel bursaries for our 2020 conference. Please get in touch if you have any ideas about how we can promote women in statistics, and look out for the Women in Mathematical Sciences 2020 conference at Monash this October.

Adrian Barnett
President, SSA

A new year, a fresh new SSA National Schools Poster Competition (NSPC) online look and vibe

Thanks to support from the ABS, a fresh and engaging SSA NSPC website has been created – please have a look and let me know your thoughts.

The NSPC is in its 6th year as a national activity following its 2014 pilot and continues to engage new participants annually from primary and secondary schools.

Please inform friends, family and local schools of this enjoyable activity which engages teams of students with statistics via investigations and aligns with and supports national curriculum outcomes.

Professor Peter Howley
Section Chair – Statistical Education

Building Future Generations of Statisticians – Who Cares?

A/Prof Ayse Bilgin (President-Elect of IASE) and I were Guest Editors for a Special Issue of the Statistics Education Research Journal published 29 Feb 2020, entitled ‘Building Future Generations of Statisticians’.

Following on from collaborative SSA national initiatives such as STEMS2016 ‘Putting Statistics into STEM in the Age of Data’, as I noted in the SERJ Editorial pp 8-10, for many, the theme of this Special Issue has been a perennial focus, discussed at national and international fora but perhaps lacking a consolidated emphasis in the literature.

The aim for this Special Issue was to provide such a platform for sharing the many and varied international ‘outreach’ initiatives, experiences, resources and supporting mechanisms for increasing the number engaging with the field of statistics.

Before you view the articles perhaps you may like to consider why you were drawn to statistics and whether the work you are performing is as you’d expected it to be when you began your studies.

SERJ Website - Special Issue 'Building Future Generations of Statisticians'

Professor Peter Howley
Section Chair – Statistical Education

The early bird gets the worm! Registration is open to all persons interested in the Australian Statistical Society and New Zealand Statistical Association Conference 2020 (ANZSC 2020) and the Australian Conference on Teaching Statistics (OZCOTS). Register today here.

Register to see keynote speakers including Ian Anderson, Robert Gould and Renate Meyer and many more. Visit the joint ANZSC and OZCOTS website to see our full list of National and International Speakers set to take the stage at this year Conference on the Sunny Gold Coast. Stay tuned for our full program to be announced soon!

Statistical Society of Australia ANZSC 2020 Family Caring Bursaries

Family caring responsibilities (such as caring for children or elders) can be a barrier to conference participation. The SSA will make a number of bursaries available to people wishing to attend ANZSC2020  to help defray the additional costs of familial caring responsibilities.

SSA members who will incur additional costs associated with familial caring responsibilities due to their attendance at ANZSC2020 are invited to apply for a bursary. These bursaries are available to people of all genders. These funds could be spent on additional childcare or eldercare expenses that would arise as a result of attendance at the conference, or on flights for an accompanying person to look after children while the awardee is at the conference, for example. Bursary awardees do not need to present work at the conference to be eligible for a bursary. The SSA has a maximum of $2000 available for these bursaries, with the maximum amount available to any one applicant being $500.

Apply now

New science ambassadors aim to put science on national agenda

Congratulations to SSA member Dr Alex Russell on his nomination as STEM Ambassador with Science & Technology Australia. Alex is one of 17 STEM Ambassadors who will work together with their local MP to help bridge the gap between science and government in Australia. Alex will be working with MP Zali Steggal in the electorate of Warringa.

Read the full media release here

The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Statistics

Did you know that as a member of the SSA you have access to the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Statistics? The ANZJS is a refereed journal published by SSA and the New Zealand Statistical Association (NZSA) four times per year. Every member can access it online through the Wiley Online Library. For an additional fee of $5 per year, added to the membership fee, members can opt to receive the journal in hard-copy.To access the electronic version of the journal, please click here.

Statistics in the Capital...on Petascale datasets

The next SSA Canberra meeting, along with our AGM, will take place on Tuesday 31st March, where Dr Dale Roberts from the ANU Research School of Finance, Actuarial Studies and Statistics will give an overview to the ‘Digital Earth Australia’ (DEA) initiative, an ongoing collaboration with Geoscience Australia which aims to use satellite data to detect physical changes across Australia in unprecedented detail, identifying soil and coastal erosion, crop growth, water quality and changes to cities and regions, soil and minerals across the landscape. Dr Dale Roberts is a researcher in RSFAS at ANU, whose interests include high-dimensional probability theory and stochastic processes, algorithms, and their application to very large scale data science problems.

As always, details will be available in due course on the Canberra branch meeting website

Francis Hui, Warren Muller, Phil Tennant
On behalf of SSA Canberra

Calling all writers!

Significance and the Royal Statistical Society Young Statisticians Section have just launched their 2020 writing competition for early-career statisticians and data scientists.


Don't forget: SSA Members get 30% discount on Oxford University Press statistics titles!

With origins dating back to 1478, Oxford University Press is the world's largest university press with the widest global presence.  Click here to see all your membership perks and how to access them.

Did you miss any of our webinars?

More webinars have been added to our website:

Do we die of only one cause? Unlocking the full potential of multiple-cause mortality data - with James Eynstone-Hinkins, Lauren Moran, Margarita Moreno-Betancur

Statistical Machine Learning for Spatio-Temporal Forecasting with Andrew Zammit-Mangion

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Access Webinar Library

Need to catch up on missed Branch Meetings?

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

SSA events you can look forward to:


6-10 July 2020, Gold Coast

27 June - 1 July 2022, Darwin

See more events listed here.

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

02 6251 3647 |