In mid-November the SA Branch held a forum discussion on ‘workplace training in statistics’, which was led by Dr Olena Kravchuk from School of Agriculture, Food & Wine, University of Adelaide. Olena began the event with a talk reflecting on her and her group’s experiences from the past decade on workforce training in universities and primary industries. In 2012 Olena set up the Biometry Hub in Adelaide, a vibrant group of statisticians who are working closely with researchers in plant and animal sciences including breeding and genetics, agricultural sciences and microbiology. The group has research expertise in advanced linear mixed models, experimental design, robust statistics, bioinformatics and computational statistics.
Olena reflected on statistical professional development for both research statisticians and bio-scientists. She expressed concern about university courses for Statistics as well as Bio-Science majors having a reduced focus on the issues of data collection (sampling design) and data creation (experimental design). As part of its strategy to build capability in these areas, the Biometry Hub has developed a series of progressive workshops on statistical applications in agricultural and biological sciences. The Biometry Hub also has professional statistical mentorship for early career researchers (ECR’s). Currently four ECRs are receiving mentorship to learn new statistical methodologies directly relevant to their agronomic and biological research.
Olena explained the importance of enabling and promoting the two-way knowledge exchange between statisticians and biological scientists. In Australia, the primary agri-industries are well aware of the need for building statistical and data knowledge capacity in their employees and contractors. For example, the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) have contributed funding to a five-year project which aims to develop, implement and deliver targeted statistical research contribution to GRDC projects in the southern region of Australia. One of the four stated outputs from the project is an overall increase in the statistical literacy of students and researchers through the development and presentation of workshops, courses, manuals and on-line material.
In the discussion which followed Olena’s talk, participants of the mentorship program shared their positive experiences. The forum discussion highlighted the potential and benefits for increased coordination of statistical development initiatives within South Australia.
For further information, please contact Olena at [email protected].
By Julian Whiting