3 March 2022

Dear {Contact_First_Name},  

The last week has been intense. When I put the newsletter together just seven days ago, already having the desk lamp on all day because it was so dark and gloomy, I had no idea of the week that would lie ahead for many of us, and it is not over yet. The reports from Queensland and NSW are shocking and heartbreaking. My heart goes out to everyone who has been affected by the severe weather.

And while we have our own tragedy unfolding here, all eyes are on the terrible developments in Europe as well.

Both events show that there are plenty of good people out there, people with a decent moral compass. Everyday-people like you and me are reaching out to flood victims, sharing what they can and lending a hand to make the plight of those in need easier. As for the conflict in Ukraine, the solidarity shown by the international community is truly mind-blowing and gives us all hope.

Stay safe, everyone.

Marie-Louise Rankin
Executive Officer

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In this newsletter:

SSA for research independence

National survey: Data commons for Australian social science: How big is the gap?

Celebrate International Women in Data Science Day 2022!

8 March 2022: International Women's Day Event at UQ

NYT Guest Essay: I’m a Parent and a Statistician. There’s a Smarter Way to Think About the Under-5 Vaccine

Lotteries and your chances of winning the prize - Interview with Jake Olivier

Mark Hutchinson on how to take more great Australian science from ‘bench to boardroom'

Looking for ANZJS Social Media Editor

Position on SSA's Executive Committee to be filled: VP Communications

World University Ranking systems, Texas Target Practice, and a Gedankenexperiment

Significance 2022 Early-Career Writing Competition

The SSA Mentoring Committee is looking for members

SSA Events

Current job advertisements in SSA's Career Centre

SSA for research independence

The Statistical Society of Australia recently made a submission to the Education and Employment Legislation Committee regarding the Australian Research Council Amendment (Ensuring Research Independence) Bill 2018. The SSA supports the amendments proposed, which eliminate the right of the Minister for Education to veto grants recommended for funding by the ARC, and the right of the Minister to reduce the recommended amount of funding. You can read the SSA's submission, and all other submissions to the Inquiry, here .

National survey: Data commons for Australian social science: How big is the gap?

In 2022, the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia committed to advancing strategic agendas and stakeholder alliances around data infrastructure for the social sciences. To this end, they are surveying researchers across social science disciplines. Understanding their present use and unmet needs in relation to data commons infrastructure will provide a basis for their data commons work agenda over this and the following years.

The 12-point survey seeks to understand how Australian social science researchers use data commons today; and what they’re missing.

It's the first survey of its kind and will provide the Academy and other stakeholders with evidence to advocate for social science data commons over the coming 10 years. Please let them know your thoughts.

The survey closes tomorrow, 4 March 2022!

For more information about this survey, or if you’d like to become a partner in our data commons journey, contact Isabel Ceron, Policy Analyst.

Link to survey

Celebrate International Women in Data Science Day 2022!

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

Celebrate International Women in Data Science Day (WiDS) 2022 by joining the Australian Data Science Network for an engaging panel discussion featuring some of Australia's top women in Data Science.

"Raising the Bar for Australian Data Science"

The panel will explore how we as a 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, we will investigate where and how we should best apply our Data Science.

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, past SSA President

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.

Register for the free event here

8 March 2022: International Women's Day Event at UQ

On Tuesday 8 March, the University of Queensland institutes IMB, AIBN, QBI, QAAFI, and SMI will celebrate International Women's Day with morning tea and a panel discussion not to be missed!

The theme of the 2022 International Women's Day is "Breaking the Bias".

8 March 2022, 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM AEST, Queensland Brain Institute, Saint Lucia Campus, The University of QLD, Brisbane.

Join the organisers for a catered morning tea and inspirational panel discussion based on this year's theme, featuring some of their brightest women excelling in the sciences.

About International Women's Day

International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women's achievements or rally for women's equality.

Register here

Many online International Women's Day events are listed here. Check out in-person events in your area here.

NYT Guest Essay: I’m a Parent and a Statistician. There’s a Smarter Way to Think About the Under-5 Vaccine

Dr Aubrey Clayton is a mathematical statistics researcher and a parent to three children under 4. He’s the author of “Bernoulli’s Fallacy: Statistical Illogic and the Crisis of Modern Science.” In his New York times guest essay "I’m a Parent and a Statistician. There’s a Smarter Way to Think About the Under-5 Vaccine" (1 March 2022) he questions the reasons the US Food and Drug Administration is delaying its review of Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine for children under 5.

He does not quite agree with the statistical methods that were used to arrive at this decision and believes that "if the data had been assessed in a more nuanced way" US residents might be putting vaccination appointments on the family calendar right now. What are his issues exactly?

Read the full essay here

Lotteries and your chances of winning the prize

Did you see SSA’s very own Jake Olivier on “A current Affair” last week? He was explaining punters’ chances of taking out a $120 million Powerball win. Missed the episode? Not to worry – you can catch it here.

Mark Hutchinson on how to take more great Australian science from ‘bench to boardroom'

Professor Mark Hutchinson is the Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP). The CNBP is a $50M ARC Centre of Excellence that brings together researchers from around the world to create light based sensing technologies to create 'windows into the body'. These advances will enable scientific breakthroughs and advance the health outcomes of tomorrow. Professor Hutchinson is also President at Science & Technology Australia and a Professor within the School of Medicine at the University of Adelaide. Professor Hutchinson's research explores the “other brain” or the other 90% of cells in the brain and spinal cord.

On Tuesday, Professor Hutchinson addressed the National Press Club with a talk titled "How to take more great Australian science from ‘bench to boardroom'", addressing Australia's lack of research commercialisation. You can read his interesting speech here.

The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Statistics is looking to fill the position of "Social Media Editor".

This position reflects the journal’s continued commitment to strategic use of social media channels to amplify its content. The successful candidate will work closely with the ANZJS editorial team, Wiley staff, and the authors of published papers to promote the contents of the journal. The focus will be on developing a strategy to improve the journal’s social media presence, particularly on Twitter, and investigating other appropriate social media platforms.

This is a formal editorial position, and the Social Media Editor will be part of the editorial team.

The Social Media Editor will ·

  • Manage and contribute content for the journal’s Twitter account: @ANZJStat
  • Ensure that each new published article is promoted on Twitter at least once using appropriate hashtags
  • Work with authors to maximise opportunities for summarising and promoting their work
  • Investigate additional social media platforms that may be appropriate for promoting the journal’s outputs

Other Key Responsibilities

  • The additional key responsibilities of a Social Media Editor include:
  • Represent and promote the journal amongst colleagues/at conferences
  • In collaboration with the Editor-in-Chief and the editorial team, make every effort to ensure that there is no defamatory or plagiarised material 
  • Attend Editorial Meetings in person or via teleconference if and when required
  • Maintain confidentiality of journal matters, content and collaborators
  • Carry out the responsibilities of the Social Media Editor to the reasonable satisfaction of the Editor-in-Chief.
  • Identify and suggest topics and authors for invited manuscript submissions for consideration to Editor-in-Chief.

Further Information

The Social Media Editor’s name and affiliation are included on the journal editorial board page. The Social Media Editor position is voluntary and honorary.

Social Media Editor position has a duration of three years, with possibility of renewal and extension, as recommended by the Editor-in-Chief and the editorial team.

The application deadline is 1 April 2022. More information can be found here.

World University Ranking systems, Texas Target Practice, and a Gedankenexperiment

presented by Nicholas Fisher

11 March 2022, 2-3pm AEDT

Access Grid Room, Carslaw Building, University of Sydney and online

World University Ranking (WUR) systems play a significant role in how universities are funded and whom they can attract as faculty and students. Yet, for the purpose of comparing universities as institutions of higher education, current systems are readily gamed, provide little guidance about what needs to be improved, and fail to allow for the diversity of stakeholder needs in making comparisons.

We suggest a list of criteria that a WUR system should meet, and which none of the current popular systems appear to satisfy. By using as a starting point the goal of creating value for the diverse and sometimes competing stakeholder requirements for a university, we suggest via a thought experiment a rating process that is consistent with all the criteria, and a way in which it might be trialed. Also, the resulting system itself adds value for individual users by allowing them to tune it to their own particular circumstances.

However, an answer to the simple question “Which is the best university” may well be: there is no simple answer.

If you have any questions, please contact John Ormerod.

Zoom id: 441 090 0695

Position on SSA's Executive Committee to be filled: VP Communications

Seeking a social media specialist!

The SSA is seeking a Vice President of Media and Communications. This person will work with the established Media and Communications team member to drive the SSA’s engagement with people on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.! You can find more information about the role in the document here.

If you want to tap into your creative side, see yourself as a bit of a social media specialist and are keen to contribute to the SSA, or just want to know more, please get in touch with Jess Kasza or Marie-Louise Rankin.

Significance 2022 Early-Career Writing Competition

Are you an early-career statistician with a compelling data story to tell? It sounds like the Significance 2022 writing competition is for you! The Significance magazine, a partnership between the Royal Statistical Society, American Statistical Association and the Statistical Society of Australia, is seeking applications for the ‘Statistical Excellence Award for Early-Career Writing’. 

The closing date is 31st May 2022; further details can be found here.

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.

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.

Find out more

SSA Events

WA Branch 2022 AGM

Tuesday, 8 March 2022 - 5:15PM (AWST), held online. 

Non-members of the SSA WA Branch are invited to attend, but cannot vote on AGM matters. Following the AGM, at 6:00PM AWST, we shall hear from Professor Emeritus Elvezio Ronchetti, speaking about

An Introduction to the Basic Concepts of Robust Statistics.

Robust statistics deals with deviations from the stochastic assumptions and their dangers for classical estimators and tests and develops statistical procedures which are still reliable and reasonably efficient in the presence of such deviations.

Find out more and register here

Queensland Branch March Meeting: Linking Heterogeneous Human Cognition with Household Financial Stress in an Agent-Based Model: Livestock Vaccine Decision-Making Among the Global Poor

11 Mar 2022, 12:30 PM AEST in room 620, Q-Block, Kelvin Grove, QUT campus/ or online.

Learn more and rgister here

SSA Workshop: Introduction to Machine Learning for Health Data - 1 place left!

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. 

Find out more and register here

Check out current job vacancies in SSA's Career Centre here

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