14 October 2021

Dear {Contact_First_Name}, 

Earlier this week our Sydney members woke up to “Freedom Day”. Although, from what I saw in the news, some Sydneysiders never even went to bed that night in the first place!

Were you amongst those engaging in a bit of desperate retail therapy at K-Mart from midnight onwards, or queuing for that much-needed haircut, manicure or massage at your local shopping centre in the middle of the night?

Our friends in the United Kingdom enjoyed their Freedom Day three months ago. Looking at photographs of our UK relatives I cannot help but think that life seems back to normal over there. Is COVID now a thing of the past for them?

In his article “How COVID deaths compare with other deaths in the UK – latest numbers” (The Conversation, 5 October 2021),  Colin Angus,  Research Fellow in the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group, University of Sheffield, warns that recent mortality data reveals that this is definitely not the case. There are still over 100 COVID deaths recorded every day in the UK. If you like numbers, you should take a look at Colin's article.

During the course of his research, Colin discovered that from July this year onwards there were almost 13,000 more deaths registered in England and Wales than for the same period in 2015-19. However, only around half of these excess deaths were directly linked to COVID.

How can the increase in deaths be explained if they were not due to COVID? The author gives several possible reasons, with an increase in population and people living longer being two of them. He then points out that many cases may have been likely to be COVID-related without being officially attributed to the virus. He talks about COVID “Knock-on effects”. You do not have to contract COVID to suffer a death that is still COVID-related. For example, the virus would have prevented certain people from seeking medical help, either through choice or lack of opportunity, and dying as a consequence. In his article, Colin goes on to explain how early cancer detection fell by 25% in 2020 alone, due to people not seeking medical advice. Many other conditions were never detected, let alone treated, because people did not go to see their doctor. An increase in alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking among young people may also have contributed negatively to health outcomes. While Colin does not specifically mention mental health, we are all aware how many people have been impacted mentally by lock-downs and worry about the future.

No doubt we will feel the impact of COVID for a while yet. Right now, though, let’s forget about the doom and gloom and be happy for the people in NSW and the ACT.

I wish everyone enjoying their newfound freedom a wonderful weekend being out and about and staying safe at the same time. For those of you who are not quite there yet and still in lock-down, I wish you strength and a good dose of humour to see this through. I wish I could send a bit of QLD sunshine your way.

Marie-Louise Rankin
Executive Officer

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SSA Webinar: Strategies for managing our mental health & well-being during COVID times

25 Oct 2021, 5:00 PM AEDT, Location: online, Zoom

Presented by Desiree Dickerson, PhD.

We explore the many ways that our community are trying navigate their roles and their well-being during the various phases of this pandemic. We highlight the need to:

  • Give yourself permission (to be where you are and feel what you feel!)
  • Set a solid foundation,
  • How to manage our own expectations and the expectations of those around us,
  • Identify our red flags (our first signs of stress),
  • Learn how to de-escalate our thoughts, sensations, and emotions when we feel overwhelmed or stressed,
  • Navigate uncertainty and worry.

About the presenter

As a former postdoctoral researcher in the neurosciences and a clinical psychologist Desiree has worked at both ends of the spectrum - from (lab) bench to bedside. Her goal is to take the best of neuroscience, behavioural economics, and psychological practice and break it down into meaningful, practical tools to help academics to:

  • Achieve peak performance in highly challenging, high-stress environments.
  • Maintain their well-being whilst striving for excellence.
  • Dial down the toxic comparison to everyone else.
  • Lose the guilt that distracts us while we work and robs us of our ability to relax.
  • Learn to see their strengths and enjoy the highs and to stop amplifying the negatives.

This is a free event for members of SSA only.

Register here

SSA Equity Membership Scholarships

The SSA’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity Committee has established an Equity Membership Scholarship program to allow people for whom paying the full SSA membership fee would lead to financial hardship to become members of the SSA. Winners will receive one year of SSA membership and be invited to take part in the 2022 SSA Mentoring Program as a mentee. More details and the application form can be found here

Vic Branch Workshop: Introduction to SQL, Crash Course - only 4 places remaining!

18 Nov 2021, 9:00 AM - 19 Nov 2021, 5:00 PM AEDT – via Zoom

Presented by Daniel Fryer.

This workshop is a gentle, fast paced introduction to SQL. Our objective is to build a strong foundation and intuition, with an emphasis on retrieving and transforming data without making mistakes or suffering immensely. Learning SQL will also help you think logically about the structure of data sets SQL skills are in very high demand as a core skill for data scientists..

This course is suitable for beginners, with no prior programming experience. However, for those with a thirst for adrenaline, parts of it will prove challenging, even for experienced non-SQL programmers.

Our course presenter Daniel Fryer wrote the first edition of this workshop for the New Zealand Social Statistics Network, University of Auckland, and has delivered the workshop for the past three years. He’s a Sessional Lecturer and Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy at La Trobe University. He teaches meta-analysis and database design/SQL to Master’s students in computer science, statistics and data science. He is also a casual Data Scientist at the Social Research Centre, technical sub-editor for the ANZ Journal of Statistics, and executive privacy officer for the Statistical Society of Australia, where he built and manages the society’s longitudinal member database, CHARLIE.

SSA Vic members may also be eligible for up to $150 funding from Vic Branch to attend this workshop (see funding application form here).

Find out more and register here

SSA Canberra Meeting - Meet the winners of the 2021 Dennis Trewin Prize

26 Oct 2021, 5:45 PM - 6:45 PM (AEDT)

SSA Canberra invites you to its October branch meeting, which will feature the shared winners of the 2021 Dennis Trewin prize!

Speaker 1: Ali Shojaeipour, University of New England

Speaker 2: Xian Li, ANU

No RSVP is required for this meeting.

Please click here for more information and to receive the Zoom link

Queensland Branch Meeting: A Unified Bayesian Model for Predicting Volleyball Games

Presented by Presenter: Prof. Ioannis Ntzoufras, Department of Statistics, Athens University of Economics and Business, Athens

Wednesday, 20 Oct 2021, 5:00PM – 6:00 PM

Preceded by a QLD Branch Meeting at 4:30 PM.

Location: Online - Zoom

Volleyball is a team sport with unique and specific characteristics. We introduce a new two-level hierarchical Bayesian model which accounts for these volleyball-specific characteristics. In the first level, we model the set outcome with a simple logistic regression model. Conditionally on the winner of the set, in the second level, we use a truncated negative binomial distribution for the points earned by the losing team. An additional Poisson-distributed inflation component is introduced to model the extra points played in the case that the two teams have a point difference less than two points. The number of points of the winner within each set is deterministically specified by the winner of the set and the points of the inflation component. The team-specific abilities and the home effect are used as covariates on all layers of the model (set, point and extra inflated points). The implementation of the proposed model on the Italian SuperLega 2017–2018 data shows exceptional reproducibility of the final league table and satisfactory predictive ability.

Ioannis Ntzoufras is a Professor in Statistics at the Department of Statistics of the Athens University of Economics and Business where he currently serves as the Head of the Department (2020-22). He holds the Lefkopoulion Award of the Greek Statistical Institute (2000) and an honorable mention in the subject of Mathematics at the 2009 PROSE Awards for the book “Bayesian Modeling Using WinBUGS”, published by Wiley. He is currently associate editor at the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series C (Applied Statistics) and at the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports. He is the author of 62 scientific journals with more than 4700 citations (h-index 25) in google scholar (data retrieved on 12/10/2021). He is currently working on research projects related with Bayesian statistical methodology, Bayesian variable selection, applied statistics, biostatistics, psychometrics and sport analytics.

Register here

Apply for AMSI-AustMS Workshop Funding

Are you interested in organising a mathematical sciences workshop to take place between 1 November 2021 – 30 June 2022? We invite you to apply for funding, promotional support and more. PhD students, early-career researchers and first-time organisers are highly encouraged to apply. Don't need financial support? See below for other benefits or contact AMSI directly. Events must be open-invitation and hosted by AMSI Member Institutions.

How can we support your event?

  • Advice and endorsement from the AMSI Research Committee
  • Promotion on AMSI & AustMS websites, mailing lists & Twitter
  • Access to AMSI Zoom as a presentation platform
  • Opportunity for publication of keynotes on the AMSI YouTube channel
  • $1K organiser payment for purely online events with <50 registrants (one per event; may be split between multiple organisers)*
  • $1.5K organiser payment for purely online events with >50 registrants (one per event; may be split between multiple organisers)*
  • Funding for keynote recording and post-production costs
  • Funding for software, licensing or local technical support costs
  • Funding for virtual networking platforms such as GatherTown
  • Travel and accommodation funding for local keynote speakers

* One payment per event; may be split between multiple organisers. Not available with speaker travel and accommodation funding.

Applications close Wednesday 20 October!

Francesca Hoban Ryan for AMSI Funding

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Central Australian landscape dominated by Tjanpi, photo by Sara Winter

The Tjanpi Award for best Student paper in Environmental Statistics

The SSA Environmental Statistics section proudly announces a new annual student prize for best student paper in environmental statistics.  To be eligible a student must be:

  • An author of a paper that has been accepted in the previous 12 months, having made a substantial contribution to the work
  • A student at the end of semester 1 this year (June 30 2021)
  • A current member of the SSA and the Environmental Statistics Section

The winner will receive $500 and will be asked to present in an invited session at the next annual stats conference (in 2023).

Find out more and apply here

SSA Peer-Review Seminar and Panel Discussion-25 Oct 2021,
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM (AEDT), Online

Are you curious about the peer-review process used by academic journals? Have you been asked to review a paper for a journal but not sure where to start? Do you want to improve your own academic writing and chance of getting published?

In this seminar, Dr Myra McGuinness will provide a general overview of the peer-review process. This will be followed by a panel discussion on reviewing statistical methodology papers with Professor Kate Lee, Professor Andrew Forbes and Professor Alan Welsh. This session is targeted at students and early-career statisticians, but we welcome anyone with questions about peer review to join.

It is free for members but you do need to register.

Register here

SSA WA Frank Hansford-Miller Fellowship: Research in engineering statistics: Current trends and future challenges

The WA Branch of the Statistical Society of Australia pleased to announce that the Frank Hansford-Miller Fellow for 2021 is Dr Manuel Herrera of the University of Cambridge. Due to travel restrictions, Dr Herrera will deliver his lecture via livestream from the UK.

Tuesday, 9 November 2021, 6:00PM AWST

Find out more and register here

Data Visualisation with R

SSA is pleased to announce this workshop, held on  

6 Dec 2021, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM, online

presented by Professor Di Cook and Dr Emi Tanaka.

This workshop will teach you how to create production-ready graphics using the grammar of graphics implemented in ggplot2 R-package. In addition, the workshop will teach you how to construct more complex plots, including maps, and discuss inference for statistical graphics to understand if what we see in a plot is really there. The workshop will be hands-on with plenty of practical examples.

For more information and to register click here.

Machine learning with Python - Fully booked - Join the Waiting List

13 Nov 2021, 9:00 AM (AEDT) – 14 Nov 2021, 12:00 PM (AEDT), held online. Zoom link available upon registration

The Statistical Society of Australia warmly invites you to a workshop on machine learning with Python, presented by Patrick Robotham from Linktree. 

This two day workshop aims to enable data scientists to incrementally incorporate Python in their workflow. 

Find out more and register here

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