21 April 2022

Dear {Contact_First_Name},  

The Statistical Society of Australia (SSA) offers optional accreditation to its members. Why would you want to be accredited?

Being able to put the letters “AStat” behind your name, indicates to fellow statisticians, potential employers and the general public that you have achieved an acceptable level of professional competence in the understanding and application of statistical methods. The AStat “tick of approval” demonstrates an endorsement by your industry’s association and promotes trust in your expertise.

To be eligible for AStat accreditation you need to meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • A pass degree or equivalent with a statistics component equivalent to that of second or third level statistics subjects or mathematics majors in Australian universities, plus six years practical experience in applying statistics; or
  • A first- or second-class honours degree or equivalent in statistics or in a subject containing substantial coverage of statistical methods or theory, plus four years practical experience in applying statistics.

Applications are submitted online and there is no deadline, as our dedicated Accreditation Committee meets all year round, working through the applications every six to eight weeks. The whole application process can take a few months, especially when we have to wait for the referees’ reports, or the Committee wants to get back to the applicant with some questions. Generally, though, the process is straightforward and clean-cut. If you have been playing with the idea of applying for accreditation, this is the time to do it.

Don’t worry about possible rejection: If you fulfil the criteria and your referees recommend you, you should be good to go. Sometimes applicants apply too early, before they can prove the required number of years of experience.

The SSA website has a page called “Handy hints before you apply” and an application checklist. Read the advice listed there carefully and you will know if you are likely to be successful with your application or not. If in doubt, send me an email and I will try to clarify things for you.

Not quite experienced enough yet to apply for AStat accreditation? Then you may wish to check out the criteria for GStat accreditation, available here.

With another long weekend coming up, why not use some of that spare time to apply?

Best wishes, 

Marie-Louise Rankin
Executive Officer

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The Statistical Society of Australia (SSA) offers several awards, honouring members' contributions to the statistical community. 

The most prestigious of the awards is the Pitman Medal, named after Edwin James George Pitman (1897-1993). The Pitman Medal is awarded in recognition of outstanding achievements in, and contribution to, the discipline of Statistics.

In this new series, we feature past recipients of the Pitman Medal:

Reflections by our Pitman Medallists

Louise Ryan, Pitman Medallist 2018

I still recall my shock, followed quickly by delight, when then SSA President Scott Sisson called me in 2018 to tell me I had won the Pitman Medal! Since so much of my professional career had been spent in the US, it was particularly meaningful to receive this honour back in my home country. I loved that in presenting the award, Scott acknowledged my passion for blending statistical methods research with real world applications. I’ve always really enjoyed that synergy and love how it inevitably leads me into new avenues of learning and investigation.

Not long after receiving the medal, I started a new collaboration the NSW Department of Planning Industry and Environment, focussed on modelling bore water levels. It’s been exciting to work on a problem that has such a clear and compelling connection to the real world. The security and sustainability of Australia’s water resources is something that affects all of us, as well as the lives of future generations.

From a more technical perspective, it’s been a very exciting project. I’ve had to learn a lot about classical time series, as well as some of the new technologies (recurrent neural networks etc) emerging from the machine learning world. It’s been fascinating to expand my knowledge in those areas. 

It’s been fascinating to expand my knowledge in those areas. 

Working on these kinds of problems is satisfying and exciting, but it does take extra time compared to more traditional mathematically-focussed research.

I hope that our funding agencies and our universities continue in their journey towards appreciating and rewarding this kind of work!

The pandemic stats from China are too good to be true

The Editorial Board of the Washington Post recently published an opinion piece titled “The pandemic statistics from China are too good to be true” (16 April 2022, The Washington Post”). They raise the fact that the COVID-19 numbers in China differ from those of the rest of the world.

According to Chinese authorities, no person has died of COVID in Shanghai, a city of 25 million, since March, despite there having been more than 300,000 COVID cases. Other countries have reported an average of 195 deaths for every 100,000 population as of last November. How can this be? What else does not add up, and what could the reason for this be?

Read the article here

Have you been to Eurostat's Education Corner?

Do you use statistics when you teach? Or are you a student wanting to understand more about statistics? Then Eurostat's Education Corner is the right place for you!

The Education Corner provides tools and explanations which make statistics easier to grasp. Eurostat is the statistical office of the European Union.

The Education Corner can be used by teachers looking for material to be used in the classroom when teaching statistics, geography, social science, etc. It can also be used directly by students for an easier understanding of statistics.

The tools presented here are either produced by Eurostat or are created and translated by National Statistical Offices.

Visit Eurostat's Education Corner

News from the ISI (International Statistical Institute)

ISI President Steve Penneck,’s blog this month, “Life’s Journey” is about the milestones that mark pivotal moments in our lives. He explains how it is the role of statisticians to keep a record of these events.

A big milestone is the transition to retirement, which can be challenging. Steve addresses the good advice a colleague gave him when he retired: “First, she said, you must have a plan. Your plan should include activities in three critical areas: firstly, something to remain physically active; secondly something to keep your brain active; and thirdly something to contribute to the community.” Steve then goes on to say how his involvement with the ISI ticked two of those three boxes.

He encourages anyone approaching retirement or having crossed that threshold already, to consider dedicating some time to the ISI or their local Society.

Many of you do that already, and we are very grateful.

Read the full blog article of the ISI website.

Read the full blog article of the ISI website.

Thirty years of R!

Many statisticians use it every day in the course of their work, but R touches the lives of almost everyone in some way or another. Do you know where R came from?

In her article “Statistics legend Ross Ihaka reflects on his revolutionary software” (,12 April 2022), Ximena Smith writes about the co-founders of R, Ross Ihaka and Robert Gentleman and their ground-breaking creation: “Today, R is depended upon around the world by analysts, data scientists and big-name companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon and the New York Times, and it's garnered Ihaka something of a rockstar status in the field of data science and statistics.”

Read the full article here

Have you heard of SSA’s Distinguished Presenter’s Award?

This award acknowledges the contributions made by SSA’s regular workshop and course presenters who are also members. It is awarded – subject to eligible nominations, annually every December.

As part of the criteria, the nominee has presented at least two workshops or courses for SSA within the previous two years. The nominee, if awarded, agrees to present at least two workshops or courses under the SSA banner within two years from the date of the award. Successful nominees will receive one year of complimentary full membership with SSA. They will also have access to an electronic badge demonstrating their status as a Distinguished Presenter of SSA. 

Find out more and apply 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.

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 NSW Branch: April event by Professor Benoit Liquet-Weiland and Dr Sarat Babu Moka

27 Apr 2022, 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM (AEST), F10A.01.104.Law Building Annex. Law Annex Lecture Theatre 104

Professor Benoit Liquet-Weiland and Dr Sarat Babu Moka from Macquarie University will give a talk about “Best Subset Selection via Continuous Optimization” at Sydney University this month.

In this talk, they will briefly review existing methods, and then present a $L_0$ continuous optimization based solution, a novel approach that tackles the challenging task of best subset selection for linear models, especially when the number of features is very large. Simulation results are presented to highlight the performance of the proposed method in comparison to the existing methods. Our new formulation for best subset selection in linear regression models promises to open new research avenues for feature extraction for a large variety of models.

This is an in person event, and we hope you can join us at Sydney Uni. If you would like to attend virtually, click here to register to receive the Zoom link. 

Learn more about this event

QLD Branch AGM and talk “A model for supporting research methods in health and biomedical research and the experiences of a statistician”

27 Apr 2022, 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM AEST, GP-S-520, S Block, Gardens Point Campus, QUT and online

Please join us in-person or online for the QLD Branch 2022 AGM.

A/Prof. Dimitrios Vagenas will be presenting the talk “A model for supporting research methods in health and biomedical research and the experiences of a statistician”. For those who are unable to attend in person, a Zoom link will be provided with the registration confirmation.

For more information about the talk or to register please click here.

For more information about the talk or to register please click here.

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

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

Other Events

Webinar: COVID and the Social Sciences, Public Understanding and Use of Statistics in Relation to the Pandemic

29 April, 2022, 0:00am AEDT, held online

The ISC presents its final webinar in a six-part series on COVID and the Social Sciences, Public Understanding and Use of Statistics in Relation to the Pandemic.

The series explores the impact of the social sciences on the pandemic and the impact of the pandemic on the social sciences. In six episodes, the series covers Economics, Psychology, Sociology, Political Science, Anthropology, and now Statistics.

The focus of this episode is on how statistics are analysed, represented, and understood. The webinar will address the following two questions:

  • How effective were statistics in informing citizens and policy makers in thinking about the pandemic and in formulating responses to the pandemic?
  • How has the pandemic affected developments within statistics and the communication of statistics to citizens and policy makers?


David Spiegelhalter, Keynote speaker

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter FRS OBE is Chair of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication at the University of Cambridge

Stephen Penneck, Welcome and Introduction of the Chair

Stephen Penneck is President of the International Statistical Institute.

Craig Calhoun, Chair

Craig Calhoun is University Professor of Social Sciences at Arizona State University.

Kerrie Mengersen, Discussant

Kerrie Mengersen is a Distinguished Professor in Statistics at the Queensland University of Technology, Director of the QUT Centre for Data Science and a former President of the Statistical Society of Australia (SSA).

Harpreet Singh, Discussant

Harpreet Singh is a computational biologist with experience in Data Management, Machine Learning, NGS data analysis and Research Management.

Ellen Peters, Discussant

Dr. Ellen Peters is the Philip H. Knight Chair and Director of the Center for Science Communication Research at the University of Oregon.

Register here

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

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