22 April 2021

Dear {Contact_First_Name}, 

Further below you will find a write-up of the Vic Branch’s March talk, presented by David Wilkinson. David’s talk “Applied and theoretical statistics for conservation gave a fascinating insight into the statistics applied in the aftermath of the Australian bushfires in the summer of 2019/2020.

What a fitting article to be published today on Earth Day!

These days the calendar is full of special days, such as Pi Day, Mole Day, Grandparents’ Day and so many more, but in my view, Earth Day really stands out. First held on 22 April 1970, the theme for this year’s Earth Day is “Restore Our Earth” and ''focuses on natural processes and emerging green technologies that can restore the world's ecosystems. In this way, the theme rejects the notion that mitigation or adaptation are the only way to address climate change.''

Last year over 100 million people around the world observed the 50th anniversary in what is being referred to as the largest online mass mobilisation in history.

How will you celebrate Earth Day this year? You could plant a tree? Turn off the lights when you leave the room? Try to use less water? (I hope my children read this). Or you could simply go for a walk, perhaps pick up some rubbish on the way. More ideas on how you can celebrate Earth Day can be found here.

Whatever you do, I hope you have the opportunity to take a few minutes to breathe fresh air, consciously take in your surroundings and be grateful for this beautiful planet that we live on.

Happy Earth Day!

Marie-Louise Rankin
SSA Executive Officer

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Machine learning paves the way for modern, efficient statistical production

International collaboration facilitated by UNECE is helping statistical organizations around the world move towards producing essential statistics in innovative ways based on machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI). 

The Machine Learning 2021 Groupled by the United Kingdom’s Data Science Campus in collaboration with UNECE, is driving efforts to take ideas about machine learning and artificial intelligence from the realms of science fiction towards a reality that can contribute to cheaper, faster and more accurate statistics for crucial decision-making. A year-long initiative encompassing research, knowledge-sharing and capacity development is aiming to put ML front and centre in international efforts to modernize the way that statistics are produced. 

Read more

Did you know that SSA is running a workshop on Machine Learning in July?

Introduction to Machine Learning for Health Data

8 Jul 2021, 9:00 AM – 9 Jul 2021, 5:00 PM,  Flinders at Victoria Square, Adelaide

If you are interested in detecting patterns associated with diseases and health conditions by studying large amounts of health records, but do not know where to start, SSA and Flinders University are proudly offering this 2 day course with Presenter Dr Oscar Perez-Concha, Centre for Big Data Research in Health, UNSW Sydney. This workshop introduces the basics for understanding and using machine learning algorithms.

To learn more and to register, click here

The statistical quandaries of an ecologist: Applied and theoretical statistics for conservation

On 16 March, David Wilkinson gave the Vic Branch’s first talk of 2021. Presenting on the statistical quandaries faced by those working in ecology, the 67 attendees were treated to a glimpse of the statistics applied in the aftermath of the Australian bushfires in the summer of 2019/2020. Highlighting the separation that exists between those with ecological domain knowledge and those with statistical literacy, David described several solutions to bridge the divide and how sharing visualisations of complex joint model equations may improve use of the skills of the two groups in ecological research.

Didn’t catch the live presentation? Want to see David’s example of visualising latent variable analysis? We’ve got you covered!

You can find the link to the presentation and slide deck here.

SSA’s Early Career and Student Statisticians Network is excited to be hosting a Science Communication Workshop Series in the lead up to ECSSC2021.

Online workshop 1: Science Communication

5 May 2021, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM AEST via Zoom

SSA’s Early Career and Student Statisticians Network is excited to be hosting a Science Communication Workshop Series in the lead up to ECSSC2021.

The ability to effectively communicate your work to a wide range of audiences is an essential part of being a statistician. Even the most brilliant research is wasted if no one knows it has been done or if your  target audience is unable to understand it. In this workshop, Dr Jen Martin will cover the science communication skills needed to prepare an oral presentation for conferences. We will cover a range of research communication aspects including: Defining a narrative for your research, communicating the importance of your work and some tips on coping with nerves.

If you are registered for ECSSC you can attend this event at no additional cost, but you will need to register.

Register here

Online workshop 2: Visualising Your Data

26 May 2021, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM AEST via Zoom

Data visualisation is a core component of good statistical communication and we need to consider the presentation mode in considering the design of data visualisations. Effective communication of statistical findings requires the ability to produce both production-ready and presentation-ready graphics. This workshop will focus on the key aspects of creating high quality graphics suitable for conference presentations. Associate Professor Sue Finch will discuss the principles of graphical excellence, and how we can use these to produce engaging and easily interpretable graphics.

If you are registered for ECSSC you can attend this event at no additional cost, but you will need to register.

Register here

Online workshop 3: Honing Your Pitch

16 Jun 2021, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM AEST via Zoom

Discover techniques to effectively convey your research in a short period of time. In this interactive workshop, Dr Will Grant will cover how to concisely present what you do, how you do it and why without losing the importance of your work.

If you are registered for ECSSC you can attend this event at no additional cost, but you will need to register.

Register here

The SSA Biostatistics & Bioinformatics Newsletter is out now.

Read the first edition of 2021 here.

ISI is exploring the possibility of launching an easy-to-read but smart and entertaining ISI magazine.

ISI is exploring the possibility of launching an ISI magazine (name still to be decided) that will address current fields of statistics, and present interviews with statisticians and data scientists from all over the world, regional statistical activities, history of statistics and statisticians, and a lot of other material. The content will not be specialized like in a journal, making it accessible to all ISI family members, regardless of their fields of interest. It should be an easy but smart and entertaining reading. We expect a lot of pictures, graphs and other illustrations. It is not meant to be a text-heavy product. We are working on possible layout and sections of the magazine, which will be available only online (probably as a pdf file).

Interested ISI members are invited to submit proposals for the layout of the magazine.

Find out more

Last chance!

Student top-up scholarships

We have launched a new scheme to help statistics students in Australia. We will award four top-up scholarships to current higher degree students who are members of the society. Each award will be $5,000 per year. The scheme is open to part-time or full-time students, and to domestic or international students. For full details and the application form go to our web page. The deadline for applications is tomorrow, Friday, 23 April 2021.

This is a new scheme, so there may things to iron-out. If you have any questions, then please e-mail Adrian Barnett. We hope this new scheme will be tremendously successful and become a regular annual award that will support lots of our students. 

QUT PhD Scholarship Opportunity

Applications close 9 May 2021.

Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane

The QUT Centre for Data Science (CDS), in partnership with the Queensland Academy of Sport (QAS) and Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), are offering three PhD scholarships for targeted projects at the intersection of data science and the sports, sports science and sports medicine. They present a unique opportunity for methodological development and real-world collaboration via Australia's high-performance sports network.

Learn more

Previously mentioned...

SSA Canberra "rego grants" for upcoming ANZSC and ECSSC Conferences!

SSA Canberra is inviting student statisticians and data scientists who are student members or join as student members of SSA Canberra branch, and are planning to either:

+ Attend and present a talk or poster at the Australia and New Zealand Statistical Conference on 5-9 July online (ANZSC 2021), or
+ Attend and present a talk or poster at the Early Career and Student Statisticians Conference on 26 July to 1 August 2021 online (ECSSC 2021)

to apply for financial support in the form of a "registration grant".

Application Details:
Please prepare the following documents and a submit a single PDF form containing:

i. A brief resume of up to 4 pages;

ii. A brief statement of which of the above three "grants" you are applying for. Please note you can only apply to be reimbursed for one of the above three grants;

iii. Your submitted talk/poster abstract for ANZSC2021/ECSSC2021;

iv. A short letter describing the anticipated benefits to you that will result from your attendance at the conference/workshop, and declaring any other financial support offered to you for this conference/workshop.

Please send these via email to by 5pm on 31st May 2021

Successful applications will be notified by email 30th June 2021. After receiving a confirmation of your acceptance of talk and your registration receipt/invoice, and after SSA Canberra has confirmed that you are a student member, then SSA Canberra will then look to reimburse your relevant registration/conference fees.

Successful applications should:

+ Acknowledge the financial support of SSA Canberra during their presentation;
+ Contribute a short piece about their experience to the SSA Stats Matters newsletter, to be sent to

2021 Dennis Trewin Prize - Call for nominations

SSA Canberra are calling for nominations for the 2021 Dennis Trewin prize! The prize, named after the former Australian Statistician Dennis Trewin, is awarded annually for outstanding postgraduate research in statistics or data science.

Eligibility criteria:

  • At least 12 months into a postgraduate research degree, or graduated from a postgraduate research degree in the last 36 months (at the time of application).
  • Undertaking/undertook the research degree from a university with a campus within the ACT or regional areas of NSW outside Newcastle-Sydney-Wollongong.

If you have innovative research from your research degree that is of interest to statisticians and/or data scientists, we strongly encourage you to apply!

Please submit an abstract of your research work to by Friday 14th May. You will also need to provide proof of enrolment at the university that the research was undertaken in.

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to record a 15-20 minute video on their research, and will receive a one-year complimentary SSA student membership following this. A selection committee will then decide the winner of the Dennis Trewin prize, who will additionally receive a $1,000 cash prize and an invitation to present their research as part of SSA Canberra's branch meeting in October. Whilst most recent branch meetings have been held virtually, there is a possibility that this branch meeting will be held physically, in which case the cost of dinner will be covered, as well as travel and one night’s accommodation if required.

If you have any further questions regarding the nature/format/scope of the prize, please contact

NSW Branch April Meeting: SSA NSW & R-Ladies Sydney - Joint Event by Dr Gordana Popovic

27th April 2021,The University of Sydney from 6pm AEST.

Carrots are good for vision, models are good for visualising discrete data

Data sometimes have artefacts which obscure the patterns we are interested in visualising. You may have come across this when trying to interpret a residual plot from a logistic regression. For discrete data, these are not really artefacts, they are properties of the distribution of the data, like mean-variance relationships and lots of zeros. Generalised linear models and their extensions model the distribution of the data, including these properties, and so are a good way to remove them, to better see the patterns we are actually interested in. I will talk though some concepts and lots of examples of how we can use models to get the best out of our visualisations of discrete multivariate data in R.

This is a face-to-face meeting but if you would like to attend virtually please register in advance for this lecture here, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

SSA Workshop: Convex Optimization for Statistical and Machine Learning with CVXR

24 Jul 2021, 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM AEST via Zoom 

This is an ECSSC 2021 satellite workshop.

We will begin with a gentle introduction to convex optimization using examples from ordinary least squares and penalized regression. This will be followed by a high-level description of CVXR, how it differs from other packages, and a discussion of the domain specific language that CVXR implements. We will show how CVXR works on different classes of problems, such as linear programs, quadratic programs, and semidefinite programs, and demonstrate its usage with a variety of examples. Finally, we will have a segment for potential developers in which we go over the nuts and bolts of adding new functions to CVXR’s library.

Prerequisites:  A working knowledge of statistics and linear algebra, and basic experience with a scripting language like R. We also invite attendees to bring problems of interest, which we will do our best to formulate and solve in CVXR.

For more information or to register click here.

SSA ECSSN T-shirt is now available!

The winning SSA ECSSN t-shirt design by Ben Harrap is now available to be purchased. Visit Das T-Shirt Automat to buy your fabulous t-shirt today! The cost is $40 ($30 for students) plus shipping. There are two styles available: the one pictured here, and a more fitted scoop neck version, worn by SSA President Jessica Kasza in the photograph at the top of this newsletter. All proceeds will go towards supporting early career and student statisticians.

Click here to read how Ben came up with and developed this wonderful design in homage to some of Australia’s great statisticians.

New CPD Survey Out now

SSA’s CPD (Continuing Professional Development) Committee is conducting a survey to help us understand what type professional development our members are interested in.

The information will be used to determine

  • Which workshops or course topics our members would be particularly interested in attending
  • Which workshops or course topics our members would be interested and presenting
  • The level of interest in getting engaged with SSA’s mentorship program.

We invite you to complete the survey and appreciate your time and feedback. Your responses will help to shape SSA’s CPD program for the remainder of the year and beyond

The survey will take between 5 to 10 minutes and closes on 15 May 2021.

Thank you!

Kind regards,

CPD Committee

Start the survey


Register now:

Early Bird closes

19 May 2021


The Early Career & Student Statisticians Conference (ECSSC) 2021 will be held on 26 July to 1 August 2021. We are delighted to announce that we will be holding our conference virtually! ECSSC2021 will bring together the best students and early-career professionals in statistics and data analysis from all around Australia.

This event is not to be missed! Register now!

To keep up-to-date with ECSSC2021, please go to the official conference website.

If you have news from the Australian statistical community to share in Stats Matters and Events, please get in touch with us! We love getting feedback too.

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