About fifty young statisticians arrived on the Gold Coast just two weeks ago, for our biennial Young Statisticians Conference. The theme of this year’s event was “Modelling our Future” and that’s exactly what these young people talked about over the next two days.
In his welcome words printed in the conference program, SSA President Scott Sisson pointed out that the theme of the conference was highly relevant in a number of ways: “It is a reminder that along with technological advances, the nature and volume of data collection is changing at a rapid pace. The challenges that Big Data bring to the statistical analyst, and the growing recognition of the value of statistical thinking and methodology, underline how fast the world of statistics is changing, and how what was once considered the future, is very much soon the common reality of today. Today the advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence are promising another data-driven revolution in the next 5-10 years. The contribution of statistical thinking and expertise in this endeavour will be critical. And who better to drive this than the attendees of this conference – the future of statistics themselves!”
Between them the young delegates represented a variety of disciplines and the presentations were all very well received by their fellow delegates. The three best presentations took out cash prize awards and I’d like to congratulate Kelsey Grantham (1st prize), Giles Adams (2nd prize) and Lisa Hall (3rd prize) on an excellent achievement.
Congratulations are also in order for the winner of the video competition, Kate Saunders, and the runner up, Rodelyn Avila. The video competition is a great initiative allowing young statisticians not able to attend YSC2017 to still take part in the event. Thank you to Raaj Kishore Biswas, Chair of the Young Statisticians Network, for coming up with the idea of holding this competition and implementing it successfully. We hope that the video competition will become a regular feature of future Young Statisticians Conferences.
YSC2017 featured fantastic keynote speakers. We were lucky to have Di Cook, who not only spoke at YSC2017 but also held a Data-Visualisation workshop for the delegates on the day before the conference. Then there was Genevera Allen, being flown in from Houston, Texas and arriving just in time to experience the computer outage at Sydney Airport and thus being stranded there for twelve hours. Genevera’s relaxed attitude facing this major challenge was commendable! We were also privileged to be able to welcome Bronwyn Harch and Violetta Misiorek to the conference. Each keynote speaker spoke to a very different topic, thus adding to the rich variety of the program.
My personal highlight was Kerrie Mengersen’s “Future Think” session. Along with the other delegates I thoroughly enjoyed thinking back to more than forty years ago and contemplating how the technological innovations introduced since then have changed our lives. And how exciting was it to speculate about the next forty years and what changes we may see in our lifetime and how they will impact us, our children and future generations.
This article would not be complete without a special mention of our sponsors. With our Young Statisticians Conference, we try to keep the registration fees as low as possible, knowing that most students or recent graduates are probably on a tight budget. When I speak to potential event venues and explain what the conference is about, I always refer to it jokingly as our “budget conference”. We would not be able to offer our low registration rates without the generous support of our sponsors, and we are deeply grateful to ACEMS, Data Analysis Australia, Monash Business School, Minitab and Wiley for their financial support. A big thank-you goes to the Executive Committee of the Statistical Society of Australia as well for agreeing to underwrite the event.
YSC2017 would not have been possible without the hard work of a dedicated conference committee, consisting of members of the Statistical Society. Louise Marquart, Chair of the Organising Committee, and Joshua Bon, Chair of the Program Committee, did an excellent job managing the event. Charles Gray deserves a special mention for putting the YSC2017 website together and keeping it up-to-date in the lead-up to the conference. Ardi Mirzaei, together with Josh Bon, managed abstract submissions, which is never an easy task. Other committee members, such as Raaj Kishore Biswas, Thilaksha Silva, Kristy Robledo, Emi Tanaka and Jandy Tenedora also donated hours and hours of their time to help with the preparations and the actual event. Thank you, guys! You did an amazing job!