14 April 2022

Dear {Contact_First_Name},  

2022 is now more than a quarter done, and, if the start of your year has been anything like mine, I am sure that you’re also looking forward to a few days of rest – or perhaps just a break from the usual routine! But before you take that break, there are a few SSA-related opportunities you may want to consider:

  • If you’re an early/mid-career statistician or data scientist, you may want to consider applying for one of our Diamond Jubilee Fellowships. These Fellowships are worth up to $5000, and are aimed at giving our early/mid-career members a boost. You can find out more here.
  • If you’re a PhD or Masters student, then I’d encourage you to consider our Top-Up Scholarship scheme. These are worth $2500, and are aimed at helping you to kick-start your career. You can find out more about these scholarships here.
  • Finally, together with AMSI, the SSA is launching a review into data science in Australian universities. This review will be led by D/Prof Kerrie Mengersen, and we are seeking expressions of interest from SSA members interested in joining the review committee. More detail is provided below, or you can get in touch with me for more information.

We look forward to receiving your applications and/or expressions of interest! 

Yours sincerely

Jessica Kasza
SSA President

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Looking back with our Past Presidents:

Tim Brown, President 1991-1993

SSA commenced important initiatives in these years, many of which came to fruition later.

Following sponsorship by the NSW Branch, Honours Scholarships were introduced in 1991 to promote the profession of statistics.  A Publicity Officer was appointed starting the process of promoting the Society in the broader community, both seeds that have borne much fruit with increasing and broadening membership of the Society in recent years. 

An article by Alan Welsh about accreditation in the November 1991 Newsletter played an important role in the establishment in March 1992 of a taskforce led by Ron Sandland, and later survey of members, processes that subsequently led to the successful establishment of accreditation. 

Ian James (Chair of the Programme Committee), Ross Maller (Chair of the Organising Committee) and Russel John (Secretary) led an amazing conference in Perth in 1992 with 16 stellar invited speakers from many countries.  Alan James was presented with the Pitman Medal, recognition he so richly deserved, with Persi Diaconis describing him as his hero for his early combination of deep mathematics with statistics.  The burden on the organisers for arranging all aspects of the programme and the local organisation was recognised by the Society in 1992.  It backed a proposal from Nick Fisher for the Sydney International Statistical Congress in 1996 – an important first in employing a professional conference organising firm and joint with international societies. 

Some things never seem to change.  Central Council frequently considered difficulties in the teaching of mathematics and statistics at school following the development of Profiles that the Society, and the Australian Mathematical Sciences Council, found a backward step for Australian students.  Since then the performance of Australian students in international tests has declined markedly, and the proportion of teachers with full majors in statistics or mathematics has declined at the same time.  With a new curriculum in statistics and mathematics approved for foundation to Year 10 on Friday 1st April 2022, hopefully Federal and State Government help will be provided on the necessary disciplinary knowledge and experience for Australian students to thrive in the future.

Significance magazine: change in publisher in 2023

From 1 January 2023, Significance magazine will be produced by Oxford University Press. This will not affect the access of SSA members to Significance: SSA members will continue to be able to access the magazine, and if you receive a print copy, you will continue to do so. More information on the change is available here.

As always, if you have ideas for articles for Significance, we want to know! Take a look here to find out how you can contribute to Significance.

SSA-AMSI Data Science Review: your chance to investigate the Australian Data Science landscape

Together with the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI), the Statistical Society of Australia (SSA) is launching a review of Data Science in Australian universities. This review, to be chaired by D/Prof Kerrie Mengersen of QUT, will investigate the opportunities and challenges for statistics within the Australian data science landscape. The review panel will include 3 SSA members: we are seeking expressions of interest from SSA members interested in joining the panel. If you’re interested, please send your nomination to, with a brief outline of your experience and motivation for joining the panel by COB on Friday May 6.

If you want to know more, D/Prof Kerrie Mengersen, Prof Tim Marchant (AMSI Director), and A/Prof Jessica Kasza (SSA President) will host a webinar at 3pm AEST on Tuesday the 3rd of May to discuss the purpose and arrangements for this review. You can register for this event here.

Celebrating 60 years of the SSA: Diamond Jubilee Fellowships

To celebrate 60 years since the formation of the Statistical Society of Australia (SSA) as a national association of statisticians, in 2022 the Society is offering up to 4 SSA Diamond Jubilee Fellowships, worth up to $5000 each, to help further the careers of our early/mid-career members. These SSA Diamond Jubilee Fellowships are intended to celebrate this Society milestone and to offer a boost to our early/mid-career members whose careers may have been limited by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, eligibility criteria, and to apply, see here. 

Applications close on 28 April 2022.

SSA PhD/Masters Top-Up Scholarships 2022

Are you undertaking a PhD or Masters degree with a project in the development of statistical or data science methodology, in the assessment of statistical or data science methodology, or in the development of statistical/data science software? The Statistical Society of Australia (SSA) wants to support you! You may be eligible to apply for an SSA PhD/Masters Top-Up Scholarship. Up to 4 Scholarships, worth $2500 each, will be awarded to SSA student members. Find out more here.

Applications close on May 12.

Perception versus reality

How good are your driving skills? Do you tend to obey the traffic regulations, or are you comfortable with exceeding the speed just that little bit, or having a quick glance at your phone, while holding it in your hand? When you look at the other drivers, do you sometimes think everyone is doing the wrong thing and you are the only “dummy” sticking to the rules?

A study in the US found that 70% of people think most drivers speed 10 mph over the limit. It’s comforting to know that in reality only 15% do. Here’s the thing: Those who believed that most drivers tend to speed were more likely to do it themselves!

In his article “How is distracted driving data compiled when it seems like everybody is on their phone?” Doug Dahl (The Bellingham Herald, 4 April 2022) explains that the human brain is wired to notice and remember the unusual rather than the ordinary. When you check out the other drivers, it’s not the good ones that you will notice. You will remember the ones that stand out by driving too fast, seeming distracted or annoying you in some other way. By the time you arrive at your destination you will have a flawed idea of the good-drivers-versus-bad-drivers ratio. Now what are the actual stats? 

Click here to find out

And if you are driving this Easter long weekend, please take care.

Have a safe and happy Easter break!

Bill Venables Award for new developers of open source software for data analytics

SSA's Statistical Computing and Visualisation Section is pleased to announce the creation of the Bill Venables award for new developers of open source software for data analytics, sponsored by the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDT). The goal of this award is to encourage new open source software development from the Australian community with a view to support efforts to develop and share data science and statistics methodology.

The application deadline is 24 May 2022. More information is available here.

SSA Events

SSA Vic + Canberra + SCV + ARDC April Event: Research software engineers: how will they shape statistics?
26 Apr 2022, 5:45 PM – 7:15 PM (AEST) held by Zoom

A growing number of people in academia combine their programming skills with their research expertise. This led to the establishment of the UK Research Software Engineering Association in 2013, which coined the term “Research Software Engineer” (RSE)  to represent this community. RSEs do not have to have a formal training in software engineering and are often embedded across different disciplines, without perhaps being named as RSEs.We are pleased to have a diverse panel of experts to discuss about the RSEs and their possible impact on the field of statistics. 

For more information and to register click here.

Introducing the Statistical Consulting Network Monthly Meet-Ups-29 Apr 2022, 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM (AEST), held online

Come along with your thinking cap, maybe a problem, and some lunch!

SSA's Statistical Consulting Network invites you to their monthly meet-up, a virtual lunchtime meeting where statisticians help each other out with problems that they aren’t sure how to deal with.  This will be a virtual meeting held on Zoom at lunchtime on the last Friday of each month, 12:30-1:30 PM (AEST).  We will start each meet-up in the common room for announcements, or occasionally a special topic discussion, then go to break-out rooms in smaller groups to discuss problems that attendees have brought along with them.

For more information click here

Other Events

AMSI Winter School applications now open

Applications for AMSI Winter School on New Directions in Representation Theory are open. Hosted by the University of Queensland from 20 June - 1 July, the school is designed specifically for postgraduate students and early career researchers.

Led by Scientific Director Professor Geordie Williamson, the program boasts leading authorities on Representation Theory. Join others in the field and get a fresh perspective on your research.

Thanks to our partnership with the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (Berkeley, CA), attendees will learn and virtually network with students from around the USA.

Apply for Winter School by 8 May 2022.

Apply now

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

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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.