21 July 2022

Dear {Contact_First_Name},  

One of the upsides of my job is that I get to read a lot of interesting stuff. One of the downsides of my job is that I get to read a lot of interesting stuff. Forever in the search for newsletter material, I will hone in on any publication that contains the word “statistics” or “statistician” and while it is fantastic that I learn so much while jumping from article to article, it is very easy to get lost in the rabbit hole that is the internet.

Here are some of this week’s highlights:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths worldwide per one million population as of July 13, 2022, by country

It’s been a while since I checked out the current Coronavirus stats. The latest discussions in the media about possible new mask mandates, an additional booster vaccination for certain age groups and another cruise ship struck by the dreaded virus have revived my interest. This table compares the Covid-rates by country. According to the table many African countries have done amazingly well during the pandemic, though I suspect that their ability to gather data may have something to do with the excellent results. With a relatively low number of about 400 deaths per million inhabitants in Australia I feel we have been very lucky. Compare this to my home country Germany, with 1700 per million, or the UK, with almost 2700, we have done exceedingly well.

Seeing the table was not enough, though. I then wanted to know how these numbers compare to the international vaccination rates. Off I was, into the rabbit hole.

Another table that caught my eye was one “Number of mass shootings in the United States between 1982 and July 2022”.

I lived in the US for two years as a teenager and left in 1982, the first year included in the table. I could not remember that shooting in 1982 and looked it up, and there I now was reading all about George Emil Banks, who killed thirteen people, not at a single location, but driving to different places to shoot more people, most of them known to him. Yes, it is an interesting, but tragic story, but did I mention “rabbit hole”?

Earlier this week we were treated to the latest State of the Environment Report, which found Australia’s environment was in a "poor and deteriorating state". The report, which is compiled every five years, “aims to help shape policy and action, influence behaviours, and assess our actions as stewards of the Australian environment”. This publication alone could keep a person occupied for days, while reading all about issues such as the state of our air quality, our marine life, our coasts and the declining biodiversity.

Key findings of the report were:

  • The general outlook for our environment is deteriorating
  • Immediate action with innovative management and collaboration can turn things around 
  • Indigenous knowledge and connections to Country are vital for sustainability and healing Australia
  • Environmental decline affects the wellbeing of all Australians

Does it make for grim reading or is there hope? Find out here. Start reading and get lost in your own rabbit hole. 

Marie-Louise Rankin
Executive Officer

Read newsletter in your browser

SA Branch June 2022 meeting

The UK coronavirus dashboard: how we provide a daily, high demand service 

The June 2022 meeting of the SA Branch was given virtually by Clare Griffiths, head of the UK COVID-19 dashboard at the UK Health Security Agency. Clare described the evolution of the dashboard during the course of the pandemic. The dashboard needed to be more than just analysis and statistics, it had to be accessible to the public, understandable to a wide audience and be able to handle high volumes of traffic. There have been three versions of the dashboard as the need for public information changed over time. At its peak, the dashboard was viewed by 1.5 million users daily.

Read Lan Kelly's full article here

Calling superstars of statistics!

Science and Technology Australia is searching for the next batch of STEM Superstars! If you're a woman or non-binary person who is keen to spread the word about statistics (or any other STEM discipline), then you can find more information about the Superstars of STEM program here.

The SSA would love to see more of our members join the Superstars of STEM ranks: if you have a look through the Superstars from previous years you'll find some SSA faces. Do you want to join them and tell the world about how wonderful statistics is? You've got until August 14 to apply!

The results of the Time Out Index 2022 are in 

You know “Time Out” – that little brochure you find in many hotel rooms, telling you what’s on in the city you are visiting? Last week, Timeout listed the fifty-three best cities in the world in 2022, and they should know what they are talking about. The publishers “quizzed” twenty-thousand city-dwellers to get the results. I don’t know what specific questions the “quizzing” included, but Melbourne came out fifteenth, before London, New York and even Boston!

What makes Melbourne great is apparently the great  bar, café and restaurant scene: “After two years of lockdowns, the Melbourne restaurant renaissance is blessing us with a plethora of bucket-list drinking and dining experiences. And it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say every corner of the state is currently lit up and illuminated with arts festivals. Think live music, outdoor installations and stunning semi-permanent exhibitions. Truly, the city has never felt more alive.” Good on you, Melburnians!

Sydney made it to number 46 and Auckland to 47.  Don’t shoot the messenger!

News from the International Biometric Society(IBS):

International Day for Women in Statistics and Data Science (IDWSDS)

11 October 2022 from 09:00 to 17:00 (ET)

Women are under-represented in Statistics and Data Science. There have been global efforts to increase women in STEM disciplines such as the UN’s International Day of Women and Girls in Sciencethe International Day for Women in Mathematics, and ISI’s International Year of Women in Statistics and Data Science. The responsibility to increase diversity, inclusion and equity falls on each one of us, as we strive to ensure greater future representation among the younger generations within our profession. We must act now. Like the UN and mathematical societies, the IBS proposes to create an International Day of Women in Statistics and Data Science (IDWSDS). They will have a virtual conference to celebrate women statisticians and data scientists on the second Tuesday of October.

Download to your calendar

New Nowcasting and Web Intelligence Competitions 

Just this week Eurostat announced that it will be organising a new European Statistics Awards Programme, with competitions in the fields of nowcasting and web intelligence. The main goal of the competitions is to discover promising methodologies and data sources that could be used to improve the production of European statistics.

Within the awards programme, which will run until the end of 2025, Eurostat is planning three yearly rounds of competitions on nowcasting.

Better timeliness is a recurring demand by policymakers and other users of European statistics. Improving timeliness requires continuous efforts involving a broad range of stakeholders and is a key driver for innovation in European statistics. New approaches based on advanced modelling (possibly using alternative, almost real-time, information) have an important potential to give us accurate estimates of key indicators much faster than before. Therefore, Eurostat is now launching the first round of European Statistics Awards for Nowcasting.

The European Statistics Awards for Web Intelligence will be launched later this year.

Find out more

STA's annual Professional Scientist Employment and Remuneration Survey

Science & Technology Australia and Professionals Australia invite you to participate in the annual Professional Scientist Employment and Remuneration Survey.

Through this survey, you will contribute to the most comprehensive benchmark report of scientist remuneration and employment conditions in Australia. The survey will also provide important insights into the unprecedented and continuing impact that COVID19 has had on Australia’s scientific workforce.

Your responses will provide an important glimpse into Australia’s science sector which, in turn, will help us advocate with and for this sector to Government, policymakers and the Australian public. The more scientists who participate, the more comprehensive and meaningful these results will be.

What do people need to know?
The survey takes 10-15 minutes to complete.
It is entirely anonymous.
It is open to all science professionals in Australia.
All survey participants can enter the draw to win one of two $500 JB HiFi vouchers.
The survey closes on 7 August 2022.

Take the survey

Canberra branch “2022 rego grants” for all members

SSA Canberra is inviting all its members to apply for financial support in the form of a “rego grant” to attend statistical conferences, workshops, visits to collaborators, and other related events in 2022. Successful applicants of the rego grant will be eligible for up to $400 AUD of total funding, with the funding coming in the form of reimbursements. 

Please click here to find out more. To apply and/or if you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact .

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.

Find out more

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

Vic Branch -  July Meeting - "Really Useful Engines - Engineering Data Science"

with Miles McBain

21 Jul 2022, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM AEST, Evan Williams Theatre, Peter Hall Building (Maths), University of Melbourne and Online

The Victorian branch is very excited to welcome Australian R legend Miles McBain to speak to us about “Very Useful Engines: Engineering Data Science”. In this talk Miles builds on previous expositions of individual Data Scientist workflows in an attempt to distil principles that can transform Data Science teams into Data Science engines.

For more information and to register click here.

Webinar: Kernel Stein discrepancy minimization for MCMC thinning in cardiac electrophysiology

The Bayesian Section of the SSA invites you to a webinar by Dr Marina Riabiz, "Kernel Stein discrepancy minimization for MCMC thinning in cardiac electrophysiology.", held on 29 Aug 2022, 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM (AEST), online.

Dr Riabiz will present a novel method that retrospectively selects a subset of states, of fixed cardinality, from the sample path, such that the approximation provided by their empirical distribution is close to optimal. This is based on greedy minimisation of a kernel Stein discrepancy, and it is suitable when the gradient of the log-target can be evaluated and an approximation using a small number of states is required.

For more information and to register click here.

Joint Canberra Branch + ABS Foreman Lecture -- How the ABS ensures that data from the Census is of high quality

26 Jul 2022, 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM (AEST), in person and online

The SSA Canberra Branch invites you to the Foreman lecture (July branch meeting), which is held jointly with the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and features four presenters from the ABS discussing the recent first tranche release of data from the 2021 Census of Population and Housing:

Teresa Dickinson PSM:  Teresa is a Deputy Australian Statistician and Senior responsible Officer for the Census. She has held senior positions in Official Statistics for 20 years in Australia and New Zealand.

Dennis Trewin AO: Dennis was Australian Statistician from 2000 to 2007. He is a former President of both the Australian Statistical Society and the International Statistical Institute and International Association of Survey Statisticians. Most recently Dennis has been a member of the Census Statistical Quality Assurance Panel for both the 2016 and 2021 Censuses.

Dr Louise Wangerek: Louise is acting Director of Census Futures. She has been an integral part of the team improving 2021 Census data quality through the use of administrative data. Prior to joining the Australian Public Service in 2006, she completed a PhD in gene therapy.

Annette Kelly:  Annette was the Director of Data Quality and Statistical Risk in the 2021 Census, leading the implementation of end-to-end processes to maintain high quality Census data. Annette has worked in the design and operations of ABS surveys for many years, with a focus on understanding and improving data quality.

How does the ABS ensure that the data from the Census is high quality and can be used with confidence? This Foreman lecture answers that question from several angles. 

For more information click here

MACHINE LEARNING WITH PYTHON- 23 Jul 2022 (AEST) – 24 Jul 2022, held online

The Statistical Society of Australia Victoria branch warmly invites you to a workshop on machine learning with Python, presented by Patrick Robotham from Magic.

This two day workshop aims to enable data scientists to incrementally incorporate Python in their workflow. After an introduction of Python basics, the workshop focuses on developing Python models in a workflow framework that is most commonly seen in a production environment. Participants will benefit from a gentle introduction to Python on the first day before learning some powerful modelling concepts and tools on the second day. 

For detailed information and to register click here.

SSA NSW Branch Meeting: July Event (in August) – Dr Shila Ghazanfar (DECRA Fellow at University of Sydney) - Mosaic single cell data integration

3 Aug 2022, 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM (AEST), held at Sydney Uni and on Zoom

Current horizontal data integration techniques use a set of common features, thereby ignoring non-overlapping features and losing information. In this talk Dr Ghazanfar will describe the current state of play for vertical, horizontal, mosaic and diagonal single cell data integration.

For more information and to register click here

Save the date: ASC and OZCOTS 2023

10-15 December 2023, University of Wollongong, NSW

Find out more

Other events

Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) Digital Research Skills Summit

29-30 August, Sydney

The annual skills summit provides a vibrant forum for eResearch skills communities to network, exchange information, share new initiatives and tackle complex, national scale skills challenges. We invite eResearch infrastructure providers, trainers, training program managers, researchers who train and other interested parties to join the summit, shaping the development of a national data and digital research skills strategy together.  

More information / Register

64th ISI World Statistics Congress 2023 – Ottawa
Extension of Deadline: Submit your Proposal by 31 July!

The ISI invites the statistical community to submit proposals for sessions for the Invited Paper Sessions (IPS) programme. The 64th WSC 2023, to be held 16-20 July in Ottawa, Canada, will highlight the developments and contributions of statistics, statistical science, and data science in all aspects of life, particularly the well-being and welfare of people. More information about the IPSs can be found on the dedicated website:

8th Biennial ACSPRI Social Science Methodology Conference 2022

Updated Conference dates: 23 -25 November   2022, held online via Zoom.

The 8th Biennial ACSPRI Social Science Methodology Conference 2022 will be held online via Zoom over 23 and 24 November 2022.

Following from the successful Social-Biological Methods Festival we co-hosted at the 2018 ACSPRI conference, the Social-Biological Methods Symposium will be held both in person (Melbourne) and online via Zoom on 25 November 2022

Conference presentations will be scheduled during the day on Wednesday 23 and Thursday 24 November 2022. The Social-Biological Methods Symposium, organised by Professor Naomi Priest (ANU and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute), will be held in person in Melbourne, and available to conference attendees either in person or via Zoom on Friday 25 November 2022.

The call for papers is now open and submissions close on 23 September 2022. Registration is due to open in late August.

Conference website

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