16 June 2022

Dear {Contact_First_Name},  

A couple of movies, such as Australian made “June Again” and “The Father” with Olivia Colman and Anthony Hopkins recently made me more aware of dementia. I am lucky, because I don’t know of anyone in my family who suffers from this illness. Knowing of my current preoccupation with dementia, my husband sent me a link to a Nine News item: “Adelaide researchers make breakthrough dementia discovery”. The newsclip goes on to explain that Adelaide researchers have uncovered a direct link between dementia and a lack of sunshine. While exercise and nutrition will always play an important role in keeping dementia at bay, 17% of dementia cases could be prevented by ensuring that your vitamin D levels are sufficient, according to the researchers. This is great news, of course, especially if you live on Sunshine Coast, like I do.

I have to say though, that fourteen years with the Statistical Society of Australia (SSA) have certainly left their mark on me. As I was going for my daily walk yesterday, I thought again about the study and started to wonder: “How do they know it was the vitamin D?”

Unless a person is holidaying in Benidorm and spending their day sleeping on a sun lounge, like some of our European friends do, surely most people in the sun will be doing something, such as walking, or gardening, or getting from A to B. How do the researchers know it was the vitamin D that made the difference in someone not getting dementia? Maybe the people with no dementia just happened to have more vitamin D, because they spent time exercising, which took them outside? When research participants were chosen, did they keep one group inside, and another group outside, completely stationary?

I guess I’ll never know, but for now, I think I’ll continue to spend time outside AND exercise while I am there, just to make sure I have most areas of dementia-prevention covered.

Here's to staying well.

Marie-Louise Rankin
Executive Officer

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Reflections on the occasion of SSA's Diamond Jubilee

What are your memories of your time with SSA? You don't have to be a Past President of Pitman Medalist to share your reflections here. Please keep your stories coming, to be published in this space. Thank you! 

Andrew Leigh, MP gives his introductory address to staff at the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Canberra

Last week, Andrew Leigh, MP, with Assistant Ministerial responsibility for the ABS, gave an introductory address to the staff at the Department. Referring to himself as a “stats nerd”, he then went on to say how thrilled he was to have this responsibility as part of his portfolio.

“You determine many of the key things that Australians focus on. You shape the national conversation around inflation, unemployment and growth, but also deeper conversations too about the social statistics - about how we're tracking as a country in terms of our environmental measures, the social health in the nation, the levels of trust.”

Andrew Leigh has been a staunch supporter of SSA for many years, having attended and spoken at various events organised by the SSA.

Read the full speech here

Professor Warren Ewens appointed Officer of the Order of Australia

The Society warmly congratulates Professor Warren Ewens on his recent appointment as Officer of the Order of Australia, awarded for "distinguished service to biology and data science, to research, and to tertiary education". Professor Ewens was president of the Victorian Branch of the Society in 1981 and 1982. In 1996 he was awarded SSA's prestigious Pitman Medal.


Seeking new voices for ‘The Random Sample’

Calling all science communication and podcast enthusiasts! The Random Sample is seeking new voices to be regular co-hosts on the podcast and we would love to have some passionate SSA members involved. The Random Sample aims to showcase the exciting work in mathematics and statistics being undertaken in Australia in an accessible manner. If you’re keen to put your communication skills to the test and think you can commit to co-hosting an episode once every couple of months, please get in touch! For more information or to apply, contact Karen Lamb by Friday 24th June.

Attention Vic members!  Workshop/conference funding support available!

SSA Vic are proud to announce that we will once again be offering financial support to our members for the attendance of statistical workshops, conferences, and short courses; both national and international, in 2022.  

Each member is eligible for up to $200 of total funding to cover the registration and travel expenses associated with the aforementioned activities.

Are you eligible?

To be eligible for access to funding, the applicant must satisfy the following criteria:

1. The applicant must be a member of SSA Vic at the time of application. (Membership is only $20 for students!)

2. Provide invoices/evidence of registration and expenses that the funding will be used to cover.

Members who were funded in previous years are also eligible for funding in this 2022 round.

How to apply?

Please use this form to apply.

You will be asked to provide a brief description of the statistical event and the anticipated benefits to you, your statistical career or the statistical community.

Applications typically take 2 weeks to process.

For more information:

Members seeking more information may email us for more information, by including the subject line “SSA Vic Funding Applications 2022”.

Please note that the successful applicants that are presenting at the conference will need to acknowledge support from SSA Vic in their talk or poster.

The Sydney Mathematical Research Institute (SMRI) International Visitor Program: applications open

The IVP2022 Round 2 applications are now open. Researchers in the mathematical sciences from international and Australian universities who wish to do research at SMRI either individually or as part of a group of collaborators are warmly invited to apply.

This round is for visits taking place between July 2023–June 2024 for general applicants, and March 2023–June 2024 for Australian citizens/permanent residents and New Zealand citizens.

Applications will close on 9 August 2022 (11.59pm AEST).

Applications with the information requested in the terms and conditions can be made through the webform found on the IVP webpage.

Applications from female and gender-diverse researchers, researchers employed in developing countries and/or researchers belonging to other groups which are underrepresented in the mathematical sciences, are particularly encouraged.

Science and Technology Australia (STA): Calling SSA members to join the Policy Committee or Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee

Are you someone who is passionate about policy? Or excited, driven, and intrigued by equity, diversity and inclusion? If so, then you may be interested in applying to join STA's Policy or Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committees. Find out more here, and let our president, Jess Kasza know if you're keen on applying to join one of these committees. This is a great opportunity for you to help STA achieve its mission, bringing STEM expertise to public policymaking, and championing STEM sector diversity and inclusion. 

SSA Events

Save the date: ASC and OZCOTS 2023

10-15 December 2023, University of Wollongong, NSW

The theme for the 2023 conference is ‘Statisticians in society’, focussing on the key role statisticians play in communication across diverse areas that are key to our society.

ASC 2023 will bring together statisticians from across Australia, as an opportunity to communicate with one another, and advance our collective knowledge of statistical methods and applications. The Local Organising Committee and the Scientific Program Committee look forward to offering a diverse program featuring speakers from academia, government and industry across a range of disciplines and career stages. There are plans to offer some parts of the conference in a hybrid format as well. Information on Keynote Speakers and the Conference program will be available at a later date so please watch this space for updates.

The conference will be held at the University of Wollongong, situated in the heart of Wollongong. Wollongong is the third-largest city in New South Wales and only an hour from Sydney. Wollongong offers an escape-worthy collection of world-class beaches, playful adventures, eats, arts and iconic attractions. 

Updates will be available here

NSW Branch Meeting: Bayesian Analysis of Raman Spectroscopy

16 Jun 2022, 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM AEST, held at F10A.01.106.Law Building Annex.Law Annex Lecture Theatre 106 and online

Matt Moores from the University of Wollongong will give a talk about Bayesian Analysis of Raman Spectroscopy at Sydney University in June. Raman spectroscopy is a measurement technique that can be used to quantify the chemical composition of a sample. In this talk, he will describe a statistical model for joint estimation of the peaks and baseline. The locations of the peaks depend on the structure of the molecule, so it is often possible to obtain informative, Bayesian priors using computational chemistry. In the absence of such prior information, we can model the peak locations as a point process. We fit this model using a sequential Monte Carlo (SMC) algorithm, which we have implemented in the R package “serrsBayes.”

To register for in-person or online please click here.

SSA Vic Branch Mentoring Night

21 Jun 2022, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM AEST, The Clyde Hotel

Hi Victorians! SSA Vic invites you to come join us at The Clyde Hotel to talk about careers in statistics and data science with experienced statisticians and data professionals! We will providing finger food so bring your questions and your networking spirit with you! Due to limited space, we can only accommodate a maximum of 40 attendees so reserve your spot early!

Meet our mentors:

  • Jessica Kasza
  • Lidija Turkovic
  • Michelle Lakhmani
  • Rob J Hyndman
  • Stephen Leslie
  • Bonnie Li 
  • Nicholas Armstrong 
Learn more about our mentors and register here

Canberra Branch Meeting - Current state and prospects of R-packages for the design of experiments

With Emi Tanaka

29 June 2022, 5:45 PM – 7:00 PM (AEST) in person and online

There is no doubt that without understanding how the data originated, you can draw satisfying answers from the data. In this talk, she will give an overview about the current state and prospects of R-packages for the design of experiments. I also introduce an object-oriented programming system, called the grammar of experimental designs, that is designed to specify experimental designs encapsulated in a cognitive framework and implemented as the edibble R-package.

For more information and the zoom link please click here.

For more information and the zoom link please click here.

The Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Section warmly invites you to the following webinar:

Cross-Platform Omics Prediction Procedure: a game changer for implementing precision medicine

29 Jun 2022, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM AEST

presented by Prof Jean Yang, University of Sydney.

In this modern era of precision medicine, molecular signatures identified by advanced omics technologies hold great promise to better guide clinical decisions. However, current approaches are often location-specific due to the inherent differences between platforms and across multiple centres, thus limiting the transferability of molecular signatures. I will present Cross-Platform Omics Prediction (CPOP), a penalised regression model that can use omics data to predict patient outcomes in a platform-independent manner and across time and experiments. CPOP improves on the traditional prediction framework of using gene-based features by selecting ratio-based features with similar estimated effect sizes. These components gave CPOP the ability to have a stable performance across datasets of similar biology, minimising the effect of technical noise often generated by omics platforms. We also present a comprehensive evaluation to demonstrate its potential to be used as a critical part of a clinical screening framework for precision medicine.

Register here

Other Events

MoCaO Lectures:  Data Science

Data ScienceMoCaO (Mathematics of Computation and Optimisation special interest group of AustMS) have a lecture series planned for the week of 11 July 2022.

For 2022 the organisers are focusing on Data science and in particular machine learning, its algorithms, mathematical foundations and applications.

These lectures are designed to be accessible to novices to the field who have a mathematics and computational background, such as PhD students, postdoc and/or inquisitive academics who wish to have a better understanding of recent advances in this dynamic field.

The one hour lectures will be held each day during the week of July the 11 to the 15th and will be scheduled at 12pm AEST on the Monday through to the Thursday and will be starting at 12.30 pm AEST on the Friday and run for 2 hours that day.

All lectures will be broadcast via Zoom.

Register here to receive your Zoom link

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