17 February 2022

Dear {Contact_First_Name},  

Last month I came across an article written by a journalist with a compromised immune system, living in New York City. He explained how hard he had had to fight the body corporate of his building to introduce a mandate for his fellow habitants to wear masks when they move through the communal areas, such as the lift or the lobby downstairs.

It was a piece of writing about his love for the city of New York, where he had been raising his family, and the constant battle to stay well during the pandemic, after cancer treatment years ago had left him with a weakened immune system.

More than the article itself, it was one of the first reader comments that stayed with me: The commentator told the journalist to pack up and move to the country if he was afraid of contracting COVID. He inferred that instead of everyone in the building doing their little bit by wearing a mask and socially distancing as they came and went, it was up to the immune-compromised person (and his family members) to take massive action, such as moving house, leaving the city, changing schools, and finding new jobs for himself and his partner.

Of course, we can see this kind of attitude everywhere in society. It is not only the person being offended at the thought of having to wear a mask to protect others (and themselves!) that is disheartening. It is people refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 (or other illnesses, for that matter), the driver in the car in front to you, chucking their cigarette butt out of the window, or the pub-patron barging to front of the counter, apparently oblivious to the fact that you have been queuing there for five minutes – they are all around us. It is “Me! Me! Me!” wherever I look. Or am I imagining it? Is it real? Is it perception? Did my parents feel the same when they reached my age? Does every generation think that things are going down-hill with humanity?

This article made me wonder if there are statistics on the evolvement of people’s levels of empathy, kindness and even manners over generations? Have there been surveys on this? Are they deemed to be accurate?

If there was a questionnaire asking you if you thought that people are getting more rude, thoughtless, and selfish, you might say “yes.” However, if the same survey asked participants if they are the ones being rude, thoughtless, and selfish – would there be enough self-awareness for some to say “yes” as well?

Is it technically possible to measure a generation’s likeability against that of the previous generation? I would love to find out.

Kind regards

Marie-Louise Rankin
SSA Executive Officer

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2021 Tjanpi Award for best Student paper in Environmental Statistics – Quan Vu

Congratulations to Quan Vu, winner of the inaugural Tjanpi Award for best Student paper in Environmental Statistics, whose paper “Modeling nonstationary and asymmetric multivariate spatial covariances via deformations” is in press at Statistica Sinica.  It is due to appear in print early 2023, in the meantime feel free to check it out here. 

As the awardee Quan will receive $500, and will be asked to present this work in an invited session at the next annual stats conference. 

Congratulations also to Mohammad Javad Davoudabadi who received an Honorary Mention for the paper “Advanced Bayesian approaches for state-space models with a case study on soil carbon sequestration” which you can find in last year’s February issue of Environmental Modelling and Software.  We also look forward to seeing this work presented at the next national conference!

Central Australian landscape dominated by Tjanpi, photo by Sara Winter

Tjanpi is the Pitjantjatjara word for Triodia, a spiny tussock-forming grass that dominates the vegetation across more than 20% of Australia’s land mass.  It is a long-lived plant that makes deep roots and can withstand the hardiest of conditions.  It can grow over decades into characteristic ring formations three metres in diameter.  As a source of food and shelter, Tjanpi is fundamental to life in some of Australia’s most extreme conditions, being central to highly diverse arid ecosystems, and also traditionally used by Indigenous people for a range of purposes.  

Tjanpi is an analogy for the Environmental Statistics student award – because the development and application of appropriate statistical techniques is fundamental to good environmental research, and our hope is that the recipient of this award will grow over the coming decades to become central to a diverse range of interesting research endeavours!

The SSA Mentoring Committee is looking for members!

Would you like to become a committee member for the SSA Mentoring Program?

The SSA mentoring committee is about to start planning the third year of its successful mentoring program. The program provides an opportunity for emerging statisticians to develop personal and professional skills, as well as providing connections between statisticians from across the nation.

This wonderful initiative is developed and managed by the SSA Mentoring Committee (pictured below). We are a team of statisticians eager to increase the support available to our community for success in the workplace. The committee is dedicated to delivering a program that meets the needs of its diverse range of mentees . To do this, the committee is seeking expertise, experience and perspectives to ensure diverse representation of the statistics community. Do you have the fresh new voice we’re looking for? Please get in touch!

To express your interest in joining the SSA Mentoring Committee, or for more information, please email with a couple of paragraphs about yourself and why you are keen to get involved.

Scientific Programming Committee members needed  for the 2023 Australian Statistical Conference

The Scientific Programming Committee for the 2023 Australian Statistical Conference, co-Chaired by Dr Nicole White (QUT) and Dr Karen Lamb (University of Melbourne), is seeking new members to help plan the program for the conference taking place in December 2023. The conference theme is ‘Statisticians in society’, focussing on the key role statisticians play in communication across diverse areas that are key to our society. 

Interested? Please email Nicole White ( by 25th February to tell us a little more about yourself, including brief details of i) the statistical section you align most with (e.g., biostatistics, environmental, official), ii) employment sector (e.g., academic, industry, government), iii) how long you have been working as a statistician, iv) what prior experience you have in conference or event organisation, and v) what you will bring to the committee. Please note that no prior experience in conference organisation is required. We would love to hear from people keen to get more involved in the SSA and strongly encourage people who may not have participated in SSA activities before to reach out (including early career statisticians). We look forward to hearing from you!

Last Chance: SSA NHMRC Investigator Grant Fellowship Top-Up Awards

Are you applying for an NHMRC Investigator Grant at Emerging Leadership Level 1 or 2 this year? To help our early-career members in this highly competitive scheme, we are awarding up to five SSA Fellowship Top-Up Awards, worth $3000 each, to support their applications. A panel of senior members and recent fellowship winners will select up to five winners. Please see the website here for details. To apply please complete this short application form by 9am AEDT on Monday, 21 February 2022. 


ISI Online Courses

The International Statistical Institute (ISI) is holding its second edition of the Online Course Programme, organised in cooperation with the ISI Associations, from 23 February through 23 April 2022. The programme covers various areas of statistics and data science; an overview of the upcoming courses is given below.

The ISI invites you to register for the course(s) of your choice in advance in order to secure your spot. Registrations can be made via ISI Online Courses 2022 | ISI ( They have kept the fees as low as possible and offer discounted rates for students and participants from developing countries.

The following courses are available:

Celebrate International Women in Data Science Day 2022 with the Australian Data Science Network (ADSN)

Monday, 7 March 2022, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM AEST - (1:00 PM  - 2:00 PM AEDT)

Online event

About this event

Celebrate International Women in Data Science Day (WiDS) 2022 by joining the ADSN for an engaging panel discussion featuring some of Australia's top women in Data Science, including the current President of SSA as well as a Past President of SSA.

"Raising the Bar for Australian Data Science"

The panel will explore how the Data Science Network can increase recognition of Data Science as a discipline in its own right, and representation in terms of more inclusive participation. Also, it will investigate where and how Data Science should be best applied.

Moderator: Dr Kate Helmstedt, QUT & WiDS @ ADSN Ambassador

  • Prof Flora Salim, Deputy Director, RMIT Centre for Information Discovery & Data Analytics (CIDDA); Incoming Professor and Cisco Chair of Digital Transport, UNSW Sydney
  • Prof Joanna Batstone, Director, Monash Data Futures Institute, Monash University
  • A/Prof Jessica Kasza, President, Statistical Society of Australia
  • D/Prof Kerrie Mengersen, Director, QUT Centre for Data Science
  • Prof Sally Cripps, Research Program Director, Analytics & Decision Sciences at CSIRO/Data 61

WiDS @ Australian Data Science Network is an independent event that is organized by the Australian Data Science Network as part of the annual WiDS Worldwide conference organized by Stanford University and an estimated 200+ locations worldwide, which features outstanding women doing outstanding work in the field of data science. All genders are invited to attend all WiDS Worldwide conference events.

Find out more and register here

IASS Webinar: webinar on 'Rescuing non-probability samples: an experience with model-based inference from a web-panel survey'

23 February 2022 from 2:00 - 3:30 CET (12:00 – 1:30 AM AEDT).

In recent years, a range of methods have been developed for handling unusual data sources – Big Data and non-probability samples – to enable the production of public and official statistics. The core methods available are quasi-randomization, superpopulation modelling and doubly-robust estimation. They rely on the use of generalized linear models and aim to produce estimates with reliability like that of estimates from traditional probability samples of similar sizes. Quasi-randomization involves using a probability sample survey as reference to estimate pseudo-weights for units in a non-probability sample or big data-type source, where coverage of the target population is insufficient or unknown. We present a brief review of the available methods and an application in which quasi-randomization was used successfully to make inference from a web-panel survey carried out by

Presenters: Marcelo Trindade Pitta, Pedro Luis do Nascimento Silva.

Find out more

SSA Workshop: Introduction to Machine Learning for Health Data

12 -13 May 2022, 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM each day, Adelaide

Craving an in-person event? SSA is proudly offering a 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. We will discuss the machine learning workflow, from clearly defining our research question to the rationale behind choosing different machine learning techniques for different scenarios, highlighting questions such as overfitting/ under-fitting, missing data, and interpretability. We will focus on the principles behind some of the most used supervised learning algorithms. However, the detailed mathematics underlying these algorithms will not be discussed. Real healthcare scenarios using Python will be presented.

Dr Oscar Perez-Concha is a health data scientist with over 15 years’ experience in machine learning and statistical modelling. 

Find out more and register here

Careers for Statisticians and Data Scientists

Do you have a Data Science background? Are you dreaming of working overseas?

15 companies hiring for data science roles right now. Where are they?

Find out here

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