2 September 2021

Dear {Contact_First_Name}, 

Since joining SSA as Executive Officer in 2008 I have been following our membership numbers with keen interest. One of my tasks is to compile a membership report for SSA’s Executive Committee once a month, which is a job I relish. Each month I download the latest figures from our online database with great anticipation, always thrilled when I see even the slightest move upwards. The numbers have changed significantly since 2008. They have climbed from somewhere in the low 600s to getting close - oh so tantalisingly close – to 1,000 members! This is thanks to the enormous amount of work undertaken by all the volunteers in our branches, sections, the many committees and SSA’s wonderful social media team. Well done! In addition, COVID-19 has been kind to SSA, having had a positive impact on our membership numbers, while other associations are struggling to retain them.

The higher the membership number, the more varied the membership has become as well. Having almost 1000 members means that we have members at all different stages of their career, and SSA is always looking for ways to cater to the many different needs of its membership. The Society’s Strategic Plan is up for renewal at the end of next year, which gives us a bit of time to mentally prepare ourselves and think of new ways to accommodate the many different interests.

For now, I’d like to leave you with some career advice I stumbled upon this morning. The article “4 Reasons To Practice Gratitude In Your Career” by Kat Boogaard explains how no matter where you are in your career, there are many reasons that you should pat yourself on the back for where you are right now. If you can’t think of any reasons yourself, get some inspiration here.

And when you have a minute, why not chat with your colleagues about the many benefits of being a member of SSA? Get them to join, so that next week I can report on us having surpassed the 1,000-member mark. Thank you in advance.

Marie-Louise Rankin
SSA Executive Officer

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NSW August Branch Meeting:

With most of the NSW Branch in lockdown, a tele-meeting used for a Pandemic-Era talk

Many of us in the New South Wales branch will remember the winter of 2021 for being locked down due to a stubborn COVID-19 Delta variant outbreak. As of late August, the lockdown was still in place and the August branch meeting was carried out totally using the Zoom tele-meeting application. We have some bright spots: spring is around the corner and accelerating vaccination rates are pointing to gradual returns to normality. Another bright spot was a pandemic-era seminar by Dr Nancy Briggs, who is a manager and senior statistical consultant at Stats Central, University of New South Wales. Around 30 people signed in for the event.

Read more

Study uses novel statistical approaches to identify factors that contributed to COVID-19 mortality

Staying home and limiting local travel, supporting access to primary care, and limiting contacts in contagion hubs -; including hospitals, schools, and workplaces -; are strategies that might help reduce COVID-19-related deaths, according to new research. The research team, by statisticians at Penn State, the Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa, Italy, and Université Laval in Quebec, Canada, used novel statistical approaches to compare the first wave of the epidemic across 20 regions in Italy and identify factors that contributed to mortality.

Read more

Christopher Drovandi awarded ARC Future Fellowship round

Congratulations to Queensland University of Technology’s Professor Christopher Drovandi on being awarded an ARC Future fellowship of $1,026,000 to develop a scalable and robust Bayesian inference for implicit statistical models.

In total $6.5 million were awarded awarded to QUT researchers.  

Learn more


The 'Correct' Amount Of Time To Boil An Egg, According To Statistical Data

The question we have all been pondering. Not only does Dr James Hind, a statistician from Nottingham University, reveal the answer in this article, you may also get some inspiration for your next breakfast. If you happen to be in lock-down with too much time on your hands… and perhaps a spare egg or two…why not put Dr Hind’s method to the test and report back?

Find out how to boil the perfect egg

SSA Vic Mentoring Event

2 Sep 2021, 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM AEST - online

SSA Vic is proud to present a mentoring opportunity for young and early career statisticians and students. The two-hour long online event will involve, in the first hour, short career presentations from a diverse group of mentors, at various stages of their careers, across the academic, private and public sectors.

In the second half, mentees in attendance will have the opportunity to have more personal conversations with the mentors who are present, in order to discuss their careers and gain valuable advice. These personal conversations will be run in a "speed dating" format and will allow mentees to meet multiple mentors over the evening.

In order to facilitate more intimate interactions, the event will be free, but members-only, for mentees.

Find out more and register here

September Environmental-Statistics Seminar (Jenny Wadsworth, Lancaster)

NIASRA and the SSA Environmental Statistics section present the following seminar:

Towards higher-dimensional spatial and spatio-temporal extremes

with Dr Jenny Wadsworth (Lancaster University)

Date: 24 September 2021 Friday, Time: 4 - 5 pm AEST via Zoom 

About this seminar:

The past decade has seen a huge effort in modelling the extremes of spatial processes. Significant challenges include the development of models with an appropriate asymptotic justification for the tail; ensuring model assumptions are compatible with the data; and the fitting of these models to (at least reasonably) high-dimensional datasets. I will review basic ideas of modelling spatial extremes, and introduce a more scalable approach via conditioning on a single site being extreme, which can also be applied in the space-time context. As we move towards being able to model extremes at more locations, we must also learn to deal with the complex structures of larger datasets, such as spatial nonstationarity in the extremal dependence. Time permitting, approaches to simplify these structures via deformations tailored to extremal dependence will also be discussed. 

About the presenter:

Jenny is currently a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Lancaster University. Her main research interest is extreme value theory, with a particular focus on multivariate and spatial problems, and applications in the environmental sciences.

Get the Zoom link here

The NSW Branch of SSA is pleased to offer the following two-day online workshop:

An Introduction to Bayesian Modelling Using Greta

presented by Professor Nick Golding

on 16 Nov 2021 – 17 Nov 2021.

Nick Golding is an infectious disease modeller with a focus on globally-important pathogens. Nick's work combines mathematical and statistical modelling, ecology, public health, and research software engineering.

Often, statistical analyses require custom models that cannot be fitted using off-the shelf statistical software, but can be estimated by MCMC by specifying the model in specialised software, the most popular of which are BUGS, JAGS and Stan.  Greta is a package for statistical modelling in R that has three core differences to these available alternatives:

 1. simple: greta models are written right in R, so there's no need to learn another language like BUGS or Stan

2. scalable: greta uses Google TensorFlow so it's fast even on massive datasets, and runs on CPU clusters and GPUs

3. extensible: it's easy to write your own R functions and packages using greta

We will start with simple linear models on real ecological data, and gradually expand the models to be more complex and better represent the data. We will also have time at the end of the course to discuss fitting models specific to your own work - so feel free to bring along a problem you’d like to discuss!

After this course you will be able to:

  • Fit and predict from Bayesian generalised linear models in greta
  • Check model convergence and fit (including prior and posterior predictive checks)
  • Summarise MCMC outputs
  • Be able to fit more advanced models including mixture and hierarchical models
  • Create visualisations and tables of the model outputs for use in understanding model fit and for publication.
For more information and to register click here.

Fellowship Funding Support

The SSA is once again offering Fellowship Funding Support for our members applying for ARC DECRA and Future Fellowships (Level 1): $3000 to complement your Fellowship activities.

The deadline for applications is 30 September 2021. 

For more information and the application form, see the website here.


AMSI VRS Applications Open

Second- and third-year undergraduates studying the mathematical sciences and cognate disciplines at AMSI Member universities are invited to apply for an AMSI Vacation Research Scholarship. Successful applicants receive $2000 to complete a six-week research project and will present their findings at the exclusive VRS conference AMSIConnect in February.

Learn more

Watch Online: AMSI Winter School Public Lecture

Need a break from work? Head to AMSI's YouTube channel to view Professor Renate Meyer's public lecture 'Data Detectives on the Trail of Black Hole Mergers' on Bayesian computational methods in astronomy.

Watch the public lecture here

Save the Date for AMSI Events

Connect with hundreds of students and researchers from around Australia to complete a project, take a subject for credit or develop your mathematical sciences skills. Join our mailing lists to receive the latest updates.

AMSI BioInfoSummer 2021

29 November 2 December

Hybrid conference

Melbourne | Sydney | Adelaide | Perth | Townsville

AMSI Summer School 2022

10 January 4 February

Hybrid conference hosted by UTS

Join AMSI's mailing list

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