20 August 2020

Dear {Contact_First_Name},

Although our lives continue to be disrupted by COVID-19, statistical communities throughout the world are continuing to meet to exchange ideas. I logged onto Zoom in the early hours of Friday August 14 to represent the SSA at the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies and Friends meeting, joining presidents of statistical societies including the American Statistical Association, the Royal Statistical Society and the International Statistical Institute, to name a few.

Two key issues were discussed at this meeting: the impacts of COVID-19 on each Society; and the work each Society is doing to ensure that their community is diverse, equitable and inclusive. I took some comfort in the fact that the SSA is not alone in having our conference disrupted by the pandemic, and I was very proud to report how well our Branches, Sections, and members have adapted to online activities. I am also very proud of the work that our Society has done to ensure that the statistical community in Australia is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. However, I know that we can do more. Doing more to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusivity within the Australian statistical community will be a key focus of my presidency. You will hear more from me about this, and please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have ideas.

Jessica Kasza

SSA President

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SA Branch of Statistical Society of Australia – July meeting

Unlocking the secrets in your DNA USING machine learning and cloud-computing

Dr Natalie Twine is team leader of the CSIRO Transformational Bioinformatics Group and gave a talk to the SA members in July. The groups’ vision is to improve health care through digital technology.

The potential information held in within an individual is huge. A genome contains DNA which holds the blueprint for every cell in the human body and is like a fingerprint- unique to an individual. CSIRO have developed technology platforms around using cloud computing to investigate DNA. VariantSpark can be used to explore differences in genes between sick and healthy individuals, while TRIBES enables the identification of new disease genes. COVID-19 was used as an example of CSIRO technology in action: a web service which monitors new genome sequences of COVID-19 to track mutations to see how they may effect transmission, virulence and symptoms.

Click here for more information

Using disparate data sources to research economic disadvantage in Australia

SSA Webinar report, 17th August

The  1-hour webinar covered in compressed format the challenge of researching economic disadvantage in Australia given data constraints. The speakers, Anders Holmberg, Chief Methodologist at the ABS and Rajeev Samarage, Senior Data Analyst at the Melbourne Institute, representing respectively producers and users of official statistics, built the case for an entirely new approach to assembling analytical datasets applicable to the economic debates that are being brought on by a rapidly changing economic climate.

Read the complete webinar report here


Despite the various uncertainties of our times, the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) remains highly focused on its mission championing the mathematical sciences in Australia, supporting the national STEM agenda and enabling growth of a knowledge economy.

Given the daily relevance of statistics in assessing the wellbeing of Australians, AMSI is heavily promoting the importance of statistical data collection, analysis and reporting, particularly in epidemiological applications and in informing public health policy.  We commend our news feed [] to SSA members as a source of information and commentary.

Read the full article here

Please join us for the following webinar with Dr Joanna Wang

How Statistics is used to help creating a better justice system – a case study
on Wednesday, 26 August from 6-7pm AEST via Zoom.

To better understand the impact of various programs and develop targeted strategies in the criminal justice system, the use of research evidence plays an important role. The results obtained from well-designed research study provide valuable information for exploring the impact of policies and programs as well as for making informed decisions about future interventions. The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) uses modern data science tools to maintain a rich and dynamic database that captures information on each person who has been convicted of a criminal offence in NSW since 1994. Statistical modelling can then be applied to extract actionable information that informs policy evaluation and effective criminal justice decision-making. We will look at a particular case-study, where recidivism rates were compared for offenders who received an intensive correction order versus those given short prison sentences. With careful modelling to properly account for selection bias, the analysis can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of intensive correction orders in reducing recidivism rates.

Find out more

The SSA is delighted to invite you to the following webinar (10 September, 1pm AEST)
with Dr Gary Chan:

An application of network meta-analysis to evaluate the effectiveness of electronic cigarette on smoking cessation

Network meta-analysis (NMA) is a technique for evidence synthesis and is used to compare treatment effects of different types of interventions. In this seminar, I will demonstrate the application of NMA on evaluating the evidence for the effectiveness of electronic cigarette on smoking cessation, compared to traditional nicotine replacement therapy and nicotine-free control conditions. Data and analysis script will be available on my Github account.

Dr Gary Chan is a statistician and epidemiologist at the National Centre for Youth Substance Use Research, UQ. 

Find out more

The Statistical Society of Australia is pleased to invite you to the following workshop:

Version control using Git and RStudio

presented by the Curtin Institute for Computation (CIC) 
over two days on 
10-11 September 2020 (11:00 AM-12:30PM AEST each day)

Version control is an efficient method of keeping a record of changes made to your work over time. Each set of changes creates a new commit of the files and the version control system allows users to recover old commits reliably and helps manage conflicting changes made by different users.4 It is extremely useful for collaborating with others and for managing individual projects, and a crucial component of reproducible research.

This workshop will teach version control using Git5, a free and open source distributed version control system. The workshop will be interactive. Participants will learn from a combination of presentation slides, live coding and group learning though break out sessions with fellow participants.

The course is aimed at SSA members who want to learn more about version control and reproducibility of their research.

Click here to find out more and to register

Improving Prediction in Human Behavior Using Behavior Modifications

Thursday 27 August,
12pm-1pm AEST via Zoom webinar.

Professor Gatil Shmueli
National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan

In this lecture, Professor Shmueli will discuss several dilemmas, challenges, and trade-offs related to behavioral big data.  Internet platforms with vast amounts of behavioral data commonly predict human behaviors. Predictions are sold to third parties who utilize them for personalisation, targeting and other decision-making. Because better predictions translate into higher financial value, platforms are incentivised to reduce prediction errors. Beyond improving algorithms and data, platforms can stealthily achieve 'better' predictions by 'pushing' users' outcomes towards their predicted values, using behavior modification techniques, thereby demonstrating more certain predictions. This strategy is absent from the machine learning and statistics literature. Professor Shmueli’s team integrate causal inference notation with correlation-based prediction in order to formalise and analyse how behavior modification results in 'improved' prediction errors. Their discoveries should alert data scientists and purchasers of prediction products, and raise moral, and societal concerns.

Register here

Analytics and Bikes: Riding Tandem with Motivate to Improve Mobility

Wednesday 2 September,
11am-12pm AEST via Zoom Webinar. 

Professor Shane Henderson 
Cornell University

In this lecture, Professor Shane Henderson discusses how mathematics, statistics and computational methods improved bike sharing systems. Professor Henderson and his team have worked with Motivate, the operator of the systems in, for example, New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, to innovate methods for managing both their day-to-day operations and to provide insight on several central issues in the design of its systems. Key questions tackled relate to the placement of bikes and docks, methods to handle surges in demand during peak periods, and the design of a crowd-sourcing scheme to improve "balance" in the system. On this last point, a bike station is balanced if, most of the time, it is neither empty nor completely full. To avoid the former so that people wanting to go for a ride can usually find a bike. And avoid the latter so that bikers returning bikes can find an empty dock into which they can return their bike. Their work has resulted in fundamental changes in the way Motivate runs its bike-sharing programs. For example, the Bike Angels program in New York City yields a system-wide improvement comparable to that obtained through Motivate’s traditional rebalancing efforts, at far less financial and environmental cost. This required a mixture of statistics, mathematics and computation.

Register here

Previously advertised - places still available!

National Science Week Virtual Quiz

ACEMS is proud to host a National Science Week Virtual Quiz tonight from 6 - 7 pm AEST. It will be 60 minutes of fascinating and intriguing science that promises to be fun for everyone to enjoy! While the panel ponders the series of scientific questions posed to them, they're offering you the chance to test your knowledge and win some great prize packs. 

Click here to register

Discussion panel on Statistical consulting in the 21st century

We are proud to announce a special event: a panel discussion on “Statistical consulting in the 21st Century”, hosted jointly by the Statistical Consulting Network, the Canberra Branch and the Victorian Branch, on

Tuesday 25 August 2020, 11am – 12:30pm AEST (9am – 10:30am AWST)

Featuring the following speakers: 

Alice Richardson, Australian National University, will be moderating this event.

As part of the registration process, one of our speakers, eminent statistical consultant Doug Zahn, invites you to submit your “stumbling blocks in consulting” in communication for discussion!

For more information and to register, click here

Please join us for the following online workshop

Semiparametric Regression with R

to be held from 30 September – 2 October 2020 (11am-1pm AEST each day)

with Professor Matt P. Wand.

Semiparametric regression methods build on parametric regression models by allowing more flexible relationships between the predictors and the response variables. The presenter's goal is to provide an easy-to-follow applied course on semiparametric regression methods using R. This course is intended for applied statistical analysts who have some familiarity with R.

Matt P. Wand is a Distinguished Professor of Statistics at the University of Technology Sydney. 

For more information and to register, click here.

Application now open: Are you one of Australia’s next of Superstars of STEM?

Science & Technology Australia created #SuperstarsofSTEM in 2017. This trailblazing program builds a critical mass of high-profile women scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians to serve as role models to inspire young women and girls into STEM. It aims to smash society’s gender assumptions about STEM careers – and lift the public visibility of women in STEM – to make gains towards more equal media representation of women in STEM.

Over the first three years of the program, Science & Technology Australia have developed the profiles of 90 women in STEM. These women acquired advanced communication skills and exciting opportunities to use these skills in the media, on stage and speaking with Parliamentary and industry decision-makers.

This week Science & Technology Australia launched the search to find their next 60 Superstars of STEM to be part of another brilliant and diverse cohort for 2021-22. 

Apply by 31 August 2020

Join us for the following webinar:

Random Effects Inference in Linear Mixed Models: The good, the bad, and the misspecified

held on Friday, 25 September 2020 at 12:00PM AEST via Zoom, exclusively for members of SSA and NZSA.

This event is presented by Francis K.C. Hui and Alan H. Welsh (Research School of Finance, Actuarial Studies & Statistics, Australian National University) and their talk is a culmination of two projects on the topic of random effects inference in linear mixed models.

For the abstract, for additional information and to register click on the button below.

Click here

Going to a conference/workshop this year? Check out the SSA Canberra young statisticians "rego" grant!

SSA Canberra is inviting young statisticians from the ACT and regional NSW, who are planning to attend a conference/workshop/short course in a field related to statistics or data science, to apply for financial support in the form of a "SSA Canberra registration grant". SSA Canberra will award an amount up to $200 AUD per successful application. 

Please click here for more information!

Tired of surveys but eager to leave feedback? Tell us what you are missing from your SSA membership. Or let us know what we do well. We will listen. 

Contact us

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

02 6251 3647 |