20 May 2021

Dear {Contact_First_Name}, 

Earlier this week I was writing some letters to thank some of the people who have recently volunteered their time to the SSA – quite fitting, given that May 17 to 23 is National Volunteer Week! The SSA relies on the contributions of enthusiastic and engaged volunteers, across all levels of the Society. The Executive Committee has recently put together a volunteer recognition strategy to help ensure our volunteers are recognised for their contributions. In the spirit of National Volunteer Week, I’d like to thank everyone who volunteers their time and energy to the Society: thank you!

May 17 was also IDAHOBIT: the International day against LGBTQIA+ discrimination. As SSA President, I want our Society to be welcoming and inclusive: there is no place for LGBTQIA+ discrimination in the SSA. I’ve donated to Minus18 to help support LGBTQIA+ youth to mark IDAHOBIT, and I’d encourage you to do the same if you are able.

Jessica Kasza
SSA President

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ANZSC2021 Program Announced!

It is with enormous pleasure that we announce the first draft of the Conference program for ANZSC/OZCOTS2021. We want to thank you for your patience as we worked on this. As you can imagine, this year’s ANZSC Conference will be one for the history books as we have all done our best to keep things moving despite these very uncertain times. We do need to flag that this is our current plan for the conference, but that there might be small changes if there are speakers whose availability changes between now and the conference.

Despite all of this uncertainty we are certainly looking forward to an exciting program. We are looking forward to our keynote seminars from Hon Dr Andrew Leigh MP, Prof Renate Meyer, Prof Li Chun Zhang, Prof Kerrie Mengersen, Prof Noel Cressie, Prof Robert Gould, Prof Manfred Borovcnik and Prof Helen MacGillivray.

While our standard pre-conference workshops have been postponed until later this year, we will be introducing the concept of mini-tutorials during the parallel sessions throughout the conference program. These 1.5 hour sessions will be a brief snapshot into different areas of statistics, and will be suitable for a broader diversity of delegate participation.

We look forward to meeting with you on the 5th to the 9th of July, and e-welcoming you to the Gold Coast.

Mark Griffin
ANZSC Co-Chair (on behalf of the ANZSC Committee)

QLD Branch Announcement: Conference Scholarships for ANZSC2021

The Statistical Society of Australia QLD Branch is offering awards to fund participation at the Australian and New Zealand Statistical Conference 2021.

Open to all Honours, Masters and PhD research students enrolled at a Queensland university (full-time or part-time), who are SSA members and will be presenting a talk at the conference, either as a formal presentation or poster (note abstract submissions are closed). Award recipients are required to submit to the SSA QLD Branch Secretary a short summary (of approximately 250 to 500 words) of their presentation and their personal conference highlights within two weeks of the conclusion of the conference for publication in the SSA Newsletter. 

The maximum award is $250 per person. The award can only be used for conference registration.  Awards will be paid directly to the award recipients unless otherwise requested. The award monies will be distributed after receipt of paid invoices.  Up to five scholarships will be awarded.

SSA critical of “clinician-only” Medical Research Future Fund scheme

Together with the Australian Health Economics Society Inc, the SSA has written a letter to the Medical Research Future Fund about the recent “Clinical Researchers Initiative” round of MRFF funding. This scheme only permitted clinical researchers to be chief investigators on grant proposals: statisticians and health economists were relegated to associate investigator roles. This scheme unfairly excluded statisticians, who play a major scientific role in the types of research projects, including randomised trials, submitted to the scheme. Statisticians’ input into the design, analysis and interpretation of such studies is often crucial, and we encouraged the MRFF to acknowledge our contribution to such work in all funding initiatives going forward.  

Jessica Kasza
SSA President

Find out more

David Spiegelhalter and Anthony Masters publish book on coronavirus data

Penguin Press has signed “Covid by Numbers”, a "vital" data-driven examination of the coronavirus pandemic by leading statisticians David Spiegelhalter and Anthony Masters, to be published in the UK in hardback in September this year.

Laura Stickney, publishing director at Penguin Press, said: “David Spiegelhalter has consistently been one of the most clear-headed and insightful voices throughout this pandemic, and his and Anthony Masters’ always eye-opening Observer column in recent months has helped many of us make sense of the deluge of data we have been receiving.”

About the book

Who was better at predicting the course of the pandemic – experts or the public?

With the advent of social media everybody has suddenly become an expert in everything. Opinions are turning into "expert" advice, are getting stronger and what is worse, everyone seems to feel the need to share them!

Gabriel Recchia, Research Associate at the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication, University of Cambridge and his colleagues, used the COVID-19 pandemic to conduct research into an important question: Who is better at predicting the course of the pandemic – experts or the public?

Early on, they asked 140 experts (epidemiologists, statisticians, mathematical modellers, virologists and clinicians) and 2,086 laypersons to give their best guesses on several questions about how the pandemic would progress. Can you guess who made the more accurate predictions?

Find the answer here

StatChat is back!

15 Jun 2021, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM  AEST via Zoom

This is an SSA members session to discuss statistical issues. Bring your questions and come to discuss and/or listen. Julie Simpson is our guest senior statistician for this month.

Registration is free

News from the Official Statistics Section

Spreading survey knowledge: IASS funds virtual workshops that support official collections in statistically emerging countries.

The International Association for Survey Statistics has announced a funding pool to foster interest in statistical surveys and censuses among governments and the general public; and to promote research into survey theory and practice. It invites bids from providers within a global cap of EUR 3,000.

The fund is directed to the sharing of knowledge and experience between countries who do not normally interact in this way; notably between larger countries with a long tradition of scientifically conducted official surveys and smaller countries where systems of official collection are rudimentary or not in place. A barrier to the diffusion of knowledge has been the high cost of international consultancies, usually the portal that countries in these situations must use to attract international support. 

This round is an opportunity for Australian methodologists to burnish their careers beyond our shores, or the more familiar corridors of scientific publishing. SSA's Official Statistics Section fully endorses this initiative: we encourage members to become involved.  To apply contact the IASS President, Professor Denise Silva.


With the World Congress on the horizon we note too that Dr James Chipperfield,  well known in official statistics and methodological circles in Australia, has been recently appointed Scientific Secretary of the International Association. Congratulations!  

His latest communication is here.

It's time to submit your abstract for ECSSC2021!

The deadline for abstract submission for ECSSC2021 (formerly SSA's Young Statisticians Conference) is 31 May 2021. Please send us your abstract at your earliest convenience, so we can tell registrants what they can look forward to!

Find out more

We'd like to thank our generous sponsors:

ECSSC is offering a pre-conference workshop in optimization.

Convex Optimization for Statistical and Machine Learning with CVXR

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

Optimization plays an important role in fitting many statistical models. 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.

For more information and registration, click here.


ISI is holding its pre-WSC 2021 Short Courses Programme, organized in cooperation with the ISI Associations, from 6 May through 1 July 2021. The programme covers various areas of statistics and data science; an overview of the upcoming courses is given below.

ISI Short Courses Programme 2021

To register for the virtual ISI WSC 2021, from 11-16 July 2021, please click here

Previously mentioned....

Virtual lecture: Playing God with Virtual Hearts

Dr Brodie Lawson, QUT

Wednesday 26 May, 12pm-1pm AEST

In this lecture, Dr Brodie Lawson demonstrates how mathematical models and computer simulations help us better understand the complexities of the heart. This talk will show the astounding complexity of one of the body’s most important organs, and how through virtual computer simulations, we can come to understand it in new ways that traditional experiments could never reveal.

Please register to receive the zoom link

The ECSSC is offering their 2nd online short course leading up to the conference:

Statistical Shape Analysis via Topological Data Analysis

25 Jul 2021, 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM AEST via Zoom

About the short course:

As modern data applications become complex in size and structure, identifying the underlying shape and structure has become of fundamental importance. The classical approaches such as dimension reduction are challenging for handling these applications. Topological data analysis (TDA) is a rapidly developing collection of methods that focuses on the “shape” of data. TDA can uncover the underlying low-dimensional geometric and topological structures from high-dimensional datasets. TDA has been successfully applied to various areas, including biology, network data, material science, and geology, in recent years. The goal of the lecture is to introduce novel TDA methods that can capture geometric or topological information of data and make statistical inferences. This lecture aims to familiarize these new methods along with their applications to various types of data.

About the presenter:

Chul Moon received his Ph.D. in Statistics from the University of Georgia. He joined the Department of Statistical Science at Southern Methodist University as an Assistant Professor in 2018. His research interests include topological data analysis, empirical likelihood, and ranked set sampling. His research aims to develop statistical methods in biosciences and geosciences. 

Register here

International Science Festival: Don't miss Pint of Science Tonight!

SSA members and colleagues might be interested in a Pint of Science event taking place at 6.30pm AEST on Thursday 20th May. Pint of Science is an international festival which aims to promote science, and the excellent work being conducted in science, to the general public. Although it usually takes place in pubs and bars, due to COVID the festival has gone online this year. However, you can always have a pint at home while watching this free online event!

This live-streamed video panel features some fantastic speakers, including former SSA President, Adrian Barnett, as well as Sophie Calabretto, Asha Rao and Saskia Freytag who will be ‘Highlighting the M in STEM’ by talking about their research, maths anxiety and why maths and statistics are so important for science. If you are interested in coming along, you can register for free here:

Register here

Canberra Branch May meeting with Cristian Rotaru - Jointly held with ABS

Using payroll transaction data: statistical opportunities and challenges

presented online by Cristian Rotaru, Australian Bureau of Statistics

Tuesday 25 May 2021, 6:00pm – 7:00pm AEST 

The unfolding of the COVID-19 pandemic trigged a spike in the demand for timely and granular economic and social statistics; policy makers, researchers, and users in general looking at ways to use data to better understand and respond to a rapidly changing environment. In response to these challenges, national statistical offices turned their attention to the use of new and non-traditional data sources and the development of innovative statistical methods.  

This presentation will provide insights into the statistical underpinnings of the series: the relevant data sources, data processes, and statistical methodologies. It will also reflect on the statistical opportunities and challenges encountered. 

Cristian is Assistant Director and Principal Statistical Analyst at the Australian Bureau of Statistics

This event will be followed by dinner at The talk will be followed by dinner at Pho Hub,  39 Benjamin Way, Belconnen.

For more information and to register, click here

NSW Branch May Meeting: The Science of Survival in Game of Thrones by Dr. Reidar Lystad

26th May 2021, Macquarie University from 6pm AEST.

The Science of Survival in Game of Thrones

This talk will take you on a whirlwind tour behind the scenes of our novel paper examining morality and survival in the world of Game of Thrones. From conception to publication and beyond, this talk will centre around the intersection of survival analysis, popular culture, science communication, and education.

Find out more

(Mis)(Dis)information, online social networks, and mathematics

Associate Professor, Lewis Mitchell, University of Adelaide

Wednesday 9 June, 12pm-1pm AEST

In recent years there has been an explosion of concern around terms like “fake news”, “misinformation”, and “disinformation”. And online social networks such as Twitter and Facebook are often implicated (with good reason) in their spread. But what do each of these terms mean, how do they differ, and what role do the online social networks really play? In this talk Associate Professor Lewis Mitchell explores mis/disinformation online, and in particular, some of the underlying mathematics governing how all kinds of information spread over social networks.

Please register to receive zoom link

Get Significance online

As part of your membership of the Statistical Society of Australia you now have online access to Significance through the Wiley Online Library.

Remember, SSA members also get discounted access to print copies of the magazine ($58 for six copies a year for full members, $45 for student members).

Get access to Significance

NSW Branch - ANZSC 2021 and ECSSC 2021 Registration Grants

The SSA NSW Branch is now accepting registration grant applications for the Australian and New Zealand Statistical Conference (ANZSC 2021, 5th – 9th July 2021) and the Early Career and Student Statistician Conference 2021 (ECSSC 2021, 26th July 2021 – 1st August 2021). 

Applications can be submitted electronically to the Secretary of the SSA NSW Branch on or before Monday, 14th June 2021.

Find out more

Interested in Biostatistics or Bioinformatics?

The SSA Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Section are now accepting expressions of interest (EOIs) for new committee members that have a passion for biostatistics and/or bioinformatics, who want to continue to shape the direction of the Section and, ultimately, promote the field within Australia.

To be eligible to apply, you must be or willing to become an SSA member and be working in the field of biostatistics and/or bioinformatics. We welcome both non-academic and academic affiliations. Expected commitment would involve participation in teleconference once every 6 weeks and a few hours between meetings to assist in Section tasks, such as minuting the meeting, organising workshops & events, social media engagement and developing the quarterly newsletter. Please submit an EOI before 31st May 2021 or for more information contact Nicole De La Mata.

Victoria Branch Offering Financial Support for Events

Dear SSA Vic members, 

SSA Vic are proud and happy to announce that we will once again be offering financial support to our members for the attendance of statistical workshops, conferences, winter/summer schools and short courses; both national and international, in 2021. This includes for example, the ANZSC 2021 , the ECSSC 2021 and AMSI Winter School.  

Members are invited to apply for funding via one of the two schemes: 

1.     (Conferences 2021) We are offering up to $200 of total funding, per member, for the registration and travel expenses associated with attendance of national and international conferences; or

2.     (Summer & Winter Schools/Short Courses/Workshops 2021) We are offering up to $150 of total funding, per member, for the registration cost of short courses or workshops for their statistical development. 

Learn more

ECSSC Science Communication Series

ECSSC Science Communication Series: Visualising Your Data

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

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

ECSSC Science Communication Series: 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

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".

Deadline: 31 May 2021

Find out more

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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