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  • 13 May 2021 12:12 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    Earlier this year SSA launched a scheme helping statistics students in Australia with top-up scholarships. These annual scholarships, worth $5,000 each, are awarded to members who are also current higher degree students. We received 17 applications in total, of which 12 were eligible for the scheme. The reviewers were impressed with the high standard of the applications. Given that they were all excellent, the four winners were chosen at random.

    We aim to continue this scheme in future years if this initial pilot goes well.”

    Congratulations to the recipients of the 2021 top-up scholarships:

    ·         Elizabeth Korevaar

    ·         Parinaz Mehdipour

    ·         Owen Forbes

    ·         Jiaxin Zhang

    Adrian Barnett
    SSA Vice President

  • 12 May 2021 9:14 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    Tuesday 11 May 2021


    New Budget investments in Australia’s next-generation technology workforce, science infrastructure, vaccine capabilities, and tax incentives to lure firms to commercialise and manufacture patented technologies onshore have an eye firmly on the future.

    “This future-focused Budget charts a path to develop the workforce Australia will need to seize opportunities in next-generation technologies,” said Science & Technology Australia President Associate Professor Jeremy Brownlie.

    “It also makes important investments in essential science infrastructure through the Australian Space Agency, ANSTO, and the Square Kilometre Array giant telescope.”

    “A $206.4 million ‘patent box’ tax break will incentivise medical and biotech companies to not only register their patents in Australia - but manufacture products from those patents onshore.”

    “We welcome the commitment to consult on extending those tax breaks to clean energy.”

    “The Budget also expands opportunities to deploy Australian science and technology as powerful assets of global diplomacy.”

    Science & Technology Australia Chief Executive Officer Misha Schubert said new women in STEM scholarships would pave the way for more women and girls to study science and technology.

    “As longtime champions of women in STEM, STA welcomes this boost through industry placement scholarships to get more women and girls into STEM,” she said. 

    “The $1.7 billion over five years to expand childcare subsidies will be welcome help for working parents everywhere, including in STEM.”  

    “We also welcome the commitment to develop an onshore manufacturing capability for mRNA vaccines here in Australia, which will need future funding.”  

    Key science and technology measures in the 2021 Budget include:

    • $206.4 million in tax incentives with a ‘patent box’ to strengthen sovereign manufacturing of Australian-patented technologies.
    • $42.4 million over 7 years to support 230 women in STEM with higher education STEM scholarships including industry placements.
    • $300 million for the Square Kilometre Array giant telescope in regional WA.
    • $116.7 million to upgrade waste storage and maintenance of equipment at ANSTO.
    • $13.3 million over four years for the Australian Space Agency to boost regulatory and technical capabilities.
    • A commitment to develop onshore mRNA vaccine manufacturing capability.
    • $10.4 million over four years to extend the national partnership agreement on clinical trials and introduce mitochondrial donations into medical research.
    • $26.8 million over four years for a national soils science challenge. 
    • Streamlining visas to target highly skilled individuals.
    • $643.4 million over four years to develop clean energy technologies.
    • $43.8 million over three years to expand the cyber security skills innovation fund.
    • $22.6 million over six years for 234 scholarships in next generation emerging technologies (such as AI).
    • $1.2 billion for digital economy transformation in measures announced last week.
    • $52.4 million over four years for global science and technology collaborations and diplomacy.

  • 7 May 2021 9:48 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)


    In the lead-up to the Budget, STA has been pressing the case once again for a major push on research translation and commercialisation. We published our submission to the current taskforce in the Department of Education, and generated strongly positive media coverage and stakeholder support. 

    The story was covered in Campus Morning Mail, InnovationAus and AuManufacturing - and we deployed our key team on the communications strategy. I was interviewed on ABC Newsradio, our President-elect Mark Hutchinson spoke to Fran Kelly on ABC RN Breakfast, and our President Jeremy Brownlie had this piece published in The Australian.

    Next Tuesday, the STA team will monitor the Budget closely on the night, and produce rapid public comment. We’ll also deliver further analysis at our special STA members-only briefing on Friday May 14. Please register ASAP if you haven’t yet done so and are keen to attend.

    This week we also announced STA’s newest group of STEM Ambassadors. Now in its third cohort, the program offers STEM professionals from STA member organisations the chance to build a productive ongoing relationship with a federal Parliamentarian. We are excited to introduce the new group to you.

    STA continues to focus strongly on the issues of job security and safeguarding our STEM workforce as pandemic continues to be felt. We are especially concerned about the impact on those on fixed term contracts, given the anticipated ongoing pressure on university finances, including many early career researchers. 

    And as Reconciliation Week approaches later this month, we also encourage members to consider how to mark this important annual event with further progress on Indigenous advancement. It was inspiring to listen to some of the cluster group discussions for this quarter on how member organisations are working on this key goal.

    Until next time, 

    Misha Schubert 
    CEO, Science & Technology Australia 


    Further information: Peter Derbyshire, STA Policy Manager -


    As a benefit to STA members, STA will host a post-Budget briefing in the week of the May Budget - which is handed down on Tuesday 11 May. This session will cover STEM-related announcements in the Budget, and share additional information on how proposed measures may affect the STEM sector, and next steps for engagement or consultation on any Budget announcements.

    Date: Friday 14 May
    Time: 11am-12noon AEST
    Fee: This online event will be free and only open to STA members – with up to two attendees per member organisation. please RSVP here


    The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) is assessing whether the Department of Health is effectively managing the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF). Science & Technology Australia would like to use this opportunity to get feedback from our membership to inform our response. We invite you to provide feedback using this form by 17 May.

    Further information: Peter Derbyshire, STA Policy Manager -


    Do you have a STEM idea, technology, innovation, product or program that could become a reality if you could just source some financial support or even just some key introductions? Then we want to hear from you. STA is launching a new project where we’ll aim to highlight activities and ideas that need some level of extra support to get them to the next stage, whether that is government funding, industry collaboration, or commercialisation. We’ll tell you more about this exciting project in a future Member Update, but for now, send us your pitches! Get in contact with our Communications Manager, Martyn Pearce.


    • National Youth Science Forum 2022 Year 12 program applications close on 2 July. If you know a STEM enthusiast currently in Year 11 encourage them to apply. 
    • Plastics – are they a problem, benefit or a game-changer? Join RACI’s 10-part virtual series exploring innovations, challenges, sustainable uses, recycling and the future of plastics. The series runs until August. Register here.
    • ARPS 2021 Conference: Legacy and Innovation in Radiation Protection - 13 – 16 September 2021, Canberra Rex Hotel. Enrich your understanding of non-ionising and ionising radiation safety, highlight the importance of effective communication and stakeholder involvement on radiation safety, highlight new technologies and generate discussion across a broad range of radiation protection. 

    To add a conference or event: contact STA Events & Membership Manager Lucy Guest –



    The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes are open for application! This year there are 16 prizes on offer across the categories of Research and Innovation, Leadership, Science Engagement, and School Science. Prizes cover a broad spectrum of scientific disciplines and aim to recognise the work of scientists, researchers, and science communicators at all career stages. There is a prize pool of $160,000 to be shared between winners. Entries close at 7pm AEST on Friday 28 May.

  • 5 May 2021 9:27 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    The SSA NSW Branch is now accepting registration grant applications for the Australian and New Zealand Statistical Conference (ANZSC 2021, 5th – 9th July 2021) and the Early Career and Student Statistician Conference 2021 (ECSSC 2021, 26th July 2021 – 1st August 2021). Applications are open to student members of the SSA NSW Branch who will give an oral or poster presentation at one of the conferences. Limited spots are also available to student members who will attend ECSSC 2021 without giving a presentation, and early career statisticians (up to 5 years post-PhD) that have been members of the SSA NSW Branch for at least 2 years at the application deadline and have no financial support available to present at one of the conferences. Successful applicants will receive a reimbursement for registration fees and workshop costs paid by the applicant. 

    A complete application will consist of:

    1. An outline of the importance of attending the conference to the candidate’s research or work (2-3 lines).Abstract of the presentation, if available.
    2. A list of other funds sought or promised, including those from the candidate’s home institution.
    3. Any other supporting material the candidate considers relevant to the application.
    4. A letter of support signed by the candidate’s supervisor; for early career statisticians, the letter should also state the candidate has no funds available to attend one of the conferences.
    5. The candidate’s up-to-date CV.

    Applications can be submitted electronically to the Secretary of the SSA NSW Branch on or before Monday, 14th June 2021.

    Recipients of the grant will also need to supply a report of their involvement in the conference to be published in the Society’s newsletter.

    Recipients of the grant are asked to acknowledge the SSA’s support in their presentations and in any published version of presented papers. We reserve the right not to reimburse if the recipient did not acknowledge the support of the SSA NSW Branch in their talk or poster.

    Previous successful applicants of similar awards from SSA are not eligible to apply.

    All applicants will be notified of the outcome by email no later than Monday, 21st June 2021.

  • 2 May 2021 2:40 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    SSA Canberra are calling for nominations for the 2021 Dennis Trewin prize! The prize, named after the former Australian Statistician Dennis Trewin, is awarded annually for outstanding postgraduate research in statistics or data science.

    Eligibility criteria:

    • At least 12 months into a postgraduate research degree, or graduated from a postgraduate research degree in the last 36 months (at the time of application).
    • Undertaking/undertook the research degree from a university with a campus within the ACT or regional areas of NSW outside Newcastle-Sydney-Wollongong.

    If you have innovative research from your research degree that is of interest to statisticians and/or data scientists, we strongly encourage you to apply!

    Please submit an abstract of your research work to by Friday 14th May. You will also need to provide proof of enrolment at the university that the research was undertaken in.

    Shortlisted applicants will be invited to record a 15-20 minute video on their research, and will receive a one-year complimentary SSA student membership following this. A selection committee will then decide the winner of the Dennis Trewin prize, who will additionally receive a $1,000 cash prize and an invitation to present their research as part of SSA Canberra's branch meeting in October. Whilst most recent branch meetings have been held virtually, there is a possibility that this branch meeting will be held physically, in which case the cost of dinner will be covered, as well as travel and one night’s accommodation if required.

    If you have any further questions regarding the nature/format/scope of the prize, please contact 

  • 2 May 2021 2:09 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    SSA Canberra is inviting student statisticians and data scientists who are student members or join as student members of SSA Canberra branch, and are planning to either:

    + Attend and present a talk or poster at the Australia and New Zealand Statistical Conference on 5-9 July online (ANZSC 2021), or

    + Attend and present a talk or poster at the Early Career and Student Statisticians Conference on 26 July to 1 August 2021 online (ECSSC 2021)

    to apply for financial support in the form of a "registration grant".

    Application Details:

    prepare the following documents and a submit a single PDF form containing:

    i. A brief resume of up to 4 pages;

    ii. A brief statement of which of the above three "grants" you are applying for.

    Please note you can only apply to be reimbursed for one of the above three grants;

    iii. Your submitted talk/poster abstract for ANZSC2021/ECSSC2021;

    iv. A short letter describing the anticipated benefits to you that will result from your attendance at the conference/workshop, and declaring any other financial support offered to you for this conference/workshop.

    Please send these via email to by 5pm on 31st May 2021

    Successful applications will be notified by email 30th June 2021. After

    receiving a confirmation of your acceptance of talk and your registration

    receipt/invoice, and after SSA Canberra has confirmed that you are a student

    member, then SSA Canberra will then look to reimburse your relevant

    registration/conference fees.

    Successful applications should:

    + Acknowledge the financial support of SSA Canberra during their


    + Contribute a short piece about their experience to the SSA Stats Matters

    newsletter, to be sent to

  • 2 May 2021 2:00 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    SSA Vic are proud and happy to announce that we will once again be offering financial support to our members for the attendance of statistical workshops,  conferences, winter/summer schools and short courses; both national and international, in 2021. This includes for example, the ANZSC 2021, the ECSSC 2021 and AMSI Winter School.

    Members are invited to apply for funding via one of the two schemes:

    1. (Conferences 2021) We are offering up to $200 of total funding, per member, for the registration and travel expenses associated with attendance of national and international conferences; or

    2. (Summer & Winter Schools/Short Courses/Workshops 2021)

    We are offering up to $150 of total funding, per member, for the registration cost of short courses or workshops for their statistical development.

    Members may apply to both schemes, however the total amount of funding available per member is $250 (e.g., if a member has received $150 for a Workshop, and then applies for conference expenses, then they will only be eligible for $100 from the Conference scheme). Members who were funded in 2020 are also eligible for funding in this 2021 round.

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


    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 seeking more information may email for more information, by including the subject line "SSA Vic Funding Applications 2021".

    Please note that the successful applicants may need to write a small report about their experience. Successful applicants that are presenting at the conference will need to acknowledge support from SSA Vic in their talks or poster. The names of all successful applicants will be publicly shared.

    Please use the following form to apply for either funding schemes:

    We hope that this funding program will help alleviate the financial burden of our members and look forward to receiving your applications.

  • 2 May 2021 1:25 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    The April 2021 meeting of the New South Wales branch was co-hosted by the Sydney section of the R Ladies group. Jenny Sloane gave a short presentation about R Ladies, both at the international and local levels, and explained how it promotes gender diversity within the R computing community - and also how it helps her as a researcher and data analyst.

    We then had a seminar by Dr Gordana Popovic who is a research fellow and statistical consultant at the University of New South Wales. Gordana's talk was titled "Carrots are good for vision. Models are good for visualising discrete data". We didn't hear much about carrots after that, but penguins and spiders came up quite a bit. The animal theme was in keeping with Gordana's membership of the Ecological Statistics Research Group at her university. The commonly used pairwise scatterplot or visualisation of multivariate data was likened to drawings of the top and side views of an object commonly used in high school technical drawing courses.

    Improved visualisation of the object is, of course, achieved by viewing it from several angles.  Gordana likened this to flying in a drone around a multi-dimensional point cloud.  The visualisation term for this is "tour" and the R package named "tourr" was mentioned due to it supporting drone-type views of multivariate data controlled by a computer  mouse.  A data concerning features of penguins collected at Palmer Station, a  research station in Antartica, was used to illustrate problems with pairwise scatterplots and tours. This is because of factors such as discreteness of the observations and counts having very many zeroes. A common quick and simple remedy is to jitter the data but this has shortcomings such as not preserving ordering.

    Speaker Popovic then moved onto her central theme: using models to help with visualisation. A key principle for this is Dunn-Smyth residuals, which were cooked up at the University of Queensland in the 1990s by Peter Dunn and Gordon Smyth and published in a very well-cited 1996 Journal of Computational  and Graphical Statistics paper. Gordana explained how Dunn-Smyth principle is like jittering but preserves ordering. The upshot is much more useful  pairwise scatterplots and tours. Similar illustrations were made for spiders and interpretations of the fondness for leaves by some spider species was made possible by the new methodology.

    An R package by Gordana and colleagues, named "ecoCopula", was advertised as a way for R Ladies and gentlemen to do  it themselves.  There was a brief technical part concerning copulas as a latent variable model and biplot concepts. Then there was final theme concerning ordinal data and how the ideas translated well to their visualisation as well.

    Matt Wand
    University of Technology Sydney


  • 18 Mar 2021 9:08 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)


    We would like to reinforce the statement made by the European Women in Mathematics¹ on the inequitable impacts of the global pandemic on mathematicians. We wish to provide further recommendations in the Australian context.

    The Australian mathematical sciences community reiterates that the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic have not been equally experienced, and they will continue to be felt for a long time to come. Impacts including reduction of research output, loss of networking opportunities and collegiate connection, and increased stress on mental health have been devastating to many, but have been most acutely felt by those in more vulnerable positions.

    The pressures brought on by the pandemic have exacerbated many pre-existing issues:

    • researchers and practitioners in mathematics, statistics, and data science on short-term contracts or casual appointments (many of whom are early career) have faced increasing job insecurity;
    •  those with caring responsibilities have seen significantly increased obligations at home, including home- schooling children or providing elderly care;
    • women, in particular, who are over-represented in the above groups, have experienced these as a double-burden; and
    • people from underrepresented groups in the mathematical sciences have seen increased structural barriers in career development and a disproportionate load of service.

    The economic and social case for developing diverse workforces is well established. Now is a time for proactive and decisive action by all of us to formulate long-lasting change in the mathematical sciences, ensuring we retain the gains already made and continue to further inclusivity. Here we offer just a few areas where creative solutions are needed in the immediate future.

    • In assessments made for hiring, promotions, grants, prizes and committees across academia, considering the academic age of candidates (rather than years since PhD) is now common place. However, the impacts of lost momentum and collaboration development are far longer lasting, but less obvious, than those of lost absolute research time. We must now look beyond metrics to consider a more nuanced definition of what makes a talented and productive scientist.
    • Where possible, extending contracts and allowing for teaching relief in academic settings will enable opportunity to regain research momentum lost during the pandemic. We recognise the significant budgetary challenge in this area, but we implore individuals, departments and organisations to think creatively in this space, seek out non-traditional solutions and make conscious decisions to support those from underrepresented groups and in their early career.
    • This is a time to redouble our efforts towards inclusion and diversity across the mathematical sciences, and across academia, industry, and government. We empower you to petition managers, departments and organisations to avoid cuts in equity programs. As a minimum, we can ensure that deadlines, meeting times and workplace arrangements allow for the flexibility that staff need, not only in this time but into the future, to support the careers of researchers and practitioners in mathematics, statistics, and data science, particularly women and caregivers.
    • The pandemic has impacted many people from diverse backgrounds in ways that are as varied and nuanced as people are different and nuanced. We exhort colleagues, managers and organisations to genuinely listen, to treat each case, thoughtfully, on its merits, and be prepared to work on suitably varied and nuanced solutions.

    During this time of increased uncertainty and heightened physical and mental burdens, we ask our fellow mathematicians, statisticians and data scientists, our departments and our organisations to support each other in retaining and developing our diverse and talented Australian mathematical sciences community.

    Yours sincerely,

    Prof. S. Ole Warnaar
    President of the Australian Mathematical Society (AustMS)

    Dr Jessica Kasza
    President of the Statistical Society of Australia (SSA)

    (printable, accessible PDF)

    The following organisations have endorsed the AustMS/SSA Covid-19 impact statement:

    ·         ARC Centre of Excellence for Mathematical & Statistical Frontiers (ACEMS)

    ·         Australian Academy of Science (AAS)

    ·         Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE)

    ·         Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI)

    ·         Mathematical Research Institute (MATRIX)

    ·         The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU)

    ·         University of Sydney Mathematical Research Institute (SMRI)

    ·         Science & Technology Australia (STA   




    Useful Resources:

    ¹An open letter from the EWM, European Women in Mathematics, 22 September 2020

    The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women in the STEM workforce,
    Rapid Research Information Forum, 17 May 2020

    Impacts of COVID-19 for EMCRs National Survey, EMCR Forum, August 2020 and-events/news-and-media-releases/early-and-mid-career-researchers-fear-their-careers-are-risk

    In the Eye of the Beholder: Avoiding the Merit Trap, Chief Executive Women and Male Champions of Change

    National Evaluation Guide for STEM Gender Equity Programs, Women in STEM Ambassador, 8 December 2020

    Women in Science decadal plan

    STEM Women: 

  • 1 Mar 2021 10:52 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    This week we launched Science & Technology Australia’s Pre-Budget submission. In it, we proposed a big and bold idea: a new $2.4 billion research translation and commercialisation fund. A once-in-a-generation seismic investment in science in the 2021 Budget would be a defining legacy for the Government, securing the science heft needed to face the next challenges after COVID-19. It would be a powerful vehicle to turn more of Australia’s world-class university research into products, services and jobs with deeper industry-university collaboration. The proposal generated positive coverage, including in The Australian, InnovationAus, The Canberra Times, and Campus Morning Mail.

    Late last week, we also garnered global coverage with our joint media statement with other key science groups drawing attention to the decision by Facebook to block the feeds of science and health organisations on the eve of the nation’s largest-ever vaccine rollout amid a global pandemic. STA’s Facebook page was among those blocked for several days - before the coverage managed to restore our feed. Please let us know if your organisation is still having difficulties with getting your feed restored.

    Our Superstars of STEM had their first two days of high-quality training last week. The cohort is brimming with talent, and it was a joy to see these diverse and brilliant women lifting each other up. If you haven’t already, follow them all using our list in Twitter - it’s a daily dose of inspiration. 

    Meanwhile, a continuing volume of policy, program and events work continues at STA. 

    If you haven’t already - please register your delegates for Science Meets Parliament by Sunday (Feb 28). With an outstanding online program in 2021, we want to make sure your members have the chance to access this excellent professional development opportunity. Register now!

    Finally, we encourage you to spread the word. Even if people aren’t attending #SmP2021 as a delegate, they can still buy a ticket to one of the five concurrent events for our SmP National Gala Dinners on Monday March 29 in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney. This will be the first big gathering for the STEM sector leaders in many capitals since the outset of the pandemic. It will be a chance for us to say thank you to those who’ve shared their expertise, celebrate the role of science in saving lives, and enjoy a night of inspiring company and content. Please join us - you can buy tickets here!
    Until next time, 

    Misha Schubert 
    CEO, Science & Technology Australia 


    Further information: Peter Derbyshire, STA Policy Manager -


    Don’t miss out as our flagship event turns 21! Science meets Parliament is an unrivalled opportunity for STEM professionals to upskill and connect with Parliamentarians and the broader STEM sector.

    In 2021, over two days of superb online content, 50 experts will share invaluable insights on policymaking, communications and Parliamentary engagement. It’s the best-value professional development event of the year. 

    Registrations for #SmP2021 close Feb 28 - so be quick! See the updated program and register here


    STA encourages our members to identify deserving nominees whose commitment, talent and contributions to science should be recognised in this year’s Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science. 

    These awards should reflect the strong diversity of our STEM sector, and we encourage members to reflect that diversity in nominations.

    Nominate someone here. Nominations close March 9.


    • Plastics – are they a problem, benefit or a game-changer? Join RACI’s 10-part virtual series exploring innovations, challenges, sustainable uses, recycling and the future of plastics. Commencing Tuesday 16 Feb 2021

    To add a conference or event: contact STA Events & Membership Manager Mitchell Piercey –



    A number of our members were affected by Facebook’s recent blocking of content. STA was one of the organisations that were affected – you can read our joint statement with the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Science Media Centre here. Our Facebook page is showing content again now, but a number of our members may still be affected. If your organisation’s Facebook page is still not showing content (make sure you ‘View as visitor’ to test this) please let our Communications Manager, Martyn Pearce know

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