10 December 2020

Dear {Contact_First_Name},

While 2020 has been a tough year in many ways, one positive thing that came out of it is the way we hold events. Making our workshops and branch meetings available online has opened them up to statisticians Australia-wide and even internationally. The increase in events impacted my workload significantly and I was very pleased when our Executive Committee recently reacted to my pleas for help and agreed to create a new role as part of the SSA administration: an Event Coordinator. On Tuesday, Jodi Phillips joined the team. Welcome Jodi!  I'm sure that those of you involved with organising and advertising events will meet Jodi soon, if you have not done so already. If you are planning an event for SSA, or if you just want to advertise an event that your organisation is putting on, please contact Jodi with the details.

Kind regards

Marie-Louise Rankin
SSA Executive Officer

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The 21st Annual J.B. Douglas Postgraduate Awards

were held at University of Sydney on 8 December 2020. The Awards, in honour of the contributions to the profession by Jim Douglas, see postgraduate students in statistics and related fields from across NSW showcase their research.

There were seven presenters this year and they were: Anne Soerensen (Macquarie University and University of Copenhagen), Desalegn Markos Shifti (University of Newcastle), Fiona Kim (University of New South Wales), Laura Cartwright (University of Wollongong), Nghia Nguyen (USYD Business School), Ra'ed Al-Surdeh (Western Sydney University, Yingxin Lin (University of Sydney).

The judging panel consisted of Annual Lecturer Prof Gillian Heller, NSW Branch President Dr Thomas Fung, Branch Vice-President Prof Jake Olivier had the tough task to decide on the winner. The judges’ decision was based on presentation, innovation and potential impact. They emphasised that the presentation standard is getting higher every year.

The winner was University of Wollongong student Laura Cartwright, whose presentation was titled “Emulation of Lagrangian particle dispersion model sensitivities using a convolutional variational autoencoder”.  Congratulations to Laura and her supervisors Andrew Zammit Mangion and Nicholas Deutscher.

The NSW Branch would like to recognise and thank the event sponsors: ABS, ACEMS, SSA Central Branch, NIASRA at the University of Wollongong, USYD Business School, the Macquarie University Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

Thomas Fung

NSW Branch President

NSW Branch November Meeting: Woodcock Scores Big With Sports Science Controversy Innings

University of Technology Sydney mathematician, Steve Woodcock, describes the controversial alternative statistical inference culture within the field of sports science.

Elite sport is a multi-billion dollar industry and data analyses involving sports decisions are prone to abuse. This is one of the main messages from Dr Steve Woodcock's talk to the New South Wales branch of the society on 25th November 2020. Steve is a senior lecturer within the mathematics group at University of Technology Sydney.

Read Matt Wand's full article here

Congratulations to Ben Harrap for winning the SSA T-shirt Design Competition!

Click here to view Ben's design, and read his story regarding how he came up with this incredible idea. We will let our members know when the t-shirts are available for purchase soon.

Stay tuned for t-shirt updates in 2021!

Meet Australia’s newest Superstars of STEM

Australia’s newest Superstars of STEM – 60 brilliant women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics who want to step into the spotlight as experts in their fields – were announced last week. The new Superstars reflects the strong diversity of women in STEM – including three Indigenous scientists and engineers, and a record number of Superstars from South Australia and the ACT.

Congratulations to SSA’s very own Dr Nicole White who is one of the new Superstars of STEM. Dr Nicole White is a statistician who has spent her career working with health and medical researchers to analyse and communicate data-driven insights to improve human health. Nicole holds a Bachelor of Mathematics and PhD in Statistics from the Queensland University of Technology. 

Science & Technology Australia Chief Executive Officer Misha Schubert said the Superstars of STEM gave women in STEM the skills and confidence to step into expert commentary roles in the media. “It’s hard to be what you can’t see,” she said. “Women are still seriously under-represented in STEM – especially at the senior leadership levels.”

“The Superstars of STEM program sets out to smash stereotypes of what a scientist, technologist, engineer or mathematician look like – these powerful role models show girls that STEM is for them.”

Read the full media release here

Spot the maths

The Australian Academy of Science’s scienceXart competition showcases the talent of our next generation of scientific and creative thinkers. This year, to mark the 100th anniversary of the International Mathematical Union, the competition theme was ‘spot the maths’. Students were encouraged to snap a photo of the maths they see in the world around them, and these entries came in thick and fast.

Last week the winners for scienceXart were announced: A  gallery of winners and shortlisted entries can be found here:

The winners were selected by a panel of eminent members of the Australian mathematical science and art communities. Over 850 individual students submitted entries in 2020.

SSA is a proud sponsor of this event and would like to congratulate the extremely talented winners!

Australian school students elevated into global top-10 for mathematics performance

Last Tuesday AMSI announced that data released from the latest quadrennial TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) testing revealed Australian students at Year 8 level have achieved significantly improved performance levels compared to previous surveys, and compared to their peers worldwide. 14,950 students from 571 schools across Australia participated in the 2019 TIMMS study spanning 64 countries.

Read the full media release here

Almost half a million tests, zero positives: how statistics show we can be confident COVID-19 is gone from Victoria

How do you know that something you are looking for is not there? Looking for a needle in a haystack is fundamentally easy – however laborious and tedious – if you know it’s definitely there. Looking for something, not finding it, and therefore concluding it does not exist is a different problem.

In Victoria, at the time of writing, we have had 35 consecutive days of zero newly detected COVID-19 infections. But, obviously, not everyone in the state has been tested.

So what does the lack of new cases tell us about the true frequency of infections in the Victorian population? Or, to put it another way, what is the maximum number of infections that could still lurk out there undetected?

Professor Michael P.H. Stumpf addresses this question in "The Conversation".

Read Professor Stumpf's article here

ANZSC2021- Conference Hubs

You are probably aware that the decision was made recently to hold ANZSC2021 online. We are currently discussing the option of hosting local hubs where our delegates can follow a virtual conference while still enjoying the company of others, networking opportunities and good food. In Queensland the obvious choice for such a hub would be the Gold Coast Convention Centre where the conference was booked originally.

To help us with our planning we are asking the statistical community if they would be interested in such a hub, and if they might even consider travelling to the Gold Coast to catch up with their colleagues. It would be wonderful if you could give us a minute of your time and answer two questions in the survey below (blue button) before Friday, 18 December. Thank you in advance!


Develop your online profile - presented by "Science in Public"

As a scientist do you wonder how to use Social Media to promote your work? Will it help advance your career? SSA is holding an online workshop on using public media as a scientist, on 2 February 2021 (11:00 AM - 12:30 PM AEDT).

This event is free for eight lucky members of SSA and eight employees of the ABS. and places will be allocated on a first-come-first-serve basis.  

With this free event SSA would like to say “thank you” to our members for their loyalty, and to the ABS for its incredible support of SSA.

Save your place

2021 Sampling Program for Survey Statisticians

The 2021 Sampling Program for Survey Statisticians will be offered by the Survey Research Center at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research from May 18 to July 30, 2021. Due to the uncertainties around the COVID-19 pandemic, the program will be offered exclusively in a remote format. 

Founded by Professor Leslie Kish in 1961, the Sampling Program is devoted to training statisticians in sound probability sampling methods for diverse complex survey research problems. Since its inception, the Sampling Program has trained hundreds of participants from over 100 countries. 

This intensive ten-week training program covers the principles and practice of survey sampling, the analysis of complex sample survey data, and application of sampling methods in many settings in three courses.

Find out more


Journal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Statistics Editor – call for nominations now open

The International Biometric Society and the American Statistical Association have invited nominations for the position of editor of the Journal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Statistics (JABES).

JABES publishes articles of immediate and practical value to applied researchers and statistical consultants in the agricultural sciences, the biological sciences (including biotechnology), and the environmental sciences (including those dealing with natural resources).

Nominations should be sent to no later than Friday January 15th, 2021.  Once received, nominations will be presented to the Chair of the JABES Management Committee for further consideration. Interested individuals are encouraged to nominate themselves.

More details are available here

If you have news from the Australian statistical community to share in Stats Matters and Events, please get in touch with us!

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