Log in

News & Media releases

  • 30 Jul 2021 11:49 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    With just a fortnight until National Science Week, please join us on 12 August for the official national launch. You can register here for this free virtual event - and we’d love you to extend this invitation to your networks. STA is honoured to deliver the launch in partnership with Questacon on behalf of the Australian Government. We’ll bring you an inspiring array of experts to speak on The Science of Recovery, Resilience and Renewal - and unveil some fascinating new insights on how Australians value science and the work of our scientists.

    Our thoughts are especially with all of you and your members in New South Wales right now as this lockdown continues. We’re acutely conscious of the impact for those juggling working and caring responsibilities at home, and those facing an uncertain outlook in their employment. Please know the rest of the nation sends love and support - and wishes you every strength. 

    STA has been busy on your behalf over the past month with a raft of engagements across Government and with Parliamentarians, public service departments and agencies. This includes promoting our new STA policy vision. In an opinion piece in the Australian Financial Review last week, we made the case for further investments in research translation, commercialisation and R&D. We’ve published our recent submissions on the Australian curriculum review - here’s the write-up in Campus Morning Mail - and on mitochondrial donation law. We’ve also been concerned about the timing of the latest round of Australian Research Council funding grants.     

    To wrap up the fortnight, STA is delighted to welcome another great STEM education organisation to our membership. The Victorian Space Science Education Centre inspires students in scientific learning and literacy, and supports teachers and schools with high quality education resources. Please warmly welcome VSSEC, its Director Michael Pakakis and its External Relations adviser Dr Brett Biddington to STA.

    Until next time, 

    Misha Schubert 
    CEO, Science & Technology Australia 

  • 29 Jul 2021 3:47 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)


    The Australian and New Zealand Statistical Conference 2021 (ANZSC 2021) was held online from the 5th to 9th July, where this conference brought together a broad range of researchers across a variety of statistical disciplines.  The conference’s theme this year was “Modelling Data for a Brighter Future” and the conference program included presentations by both international and national keynote speakers, including experts in the statistical arena, mini tutorials on trending research areas of statistics, as well as oral and poster presentations.

    I had the opportunity to participate and present at ANZSC 2021, where I received a scholarship covering my registration fee from the SSA Qld. One of the main highlights of the conference was the panel of keynote speakers, and how they each represented a variety of statistical disciplines. The keynote presentation by Distinguished Professor Kerrie Mengersen, (Not) Aggregating Data, was particularly of interest as she discussed how different statistical models can be used to bring together cancer data from different registries around Australia, and how they can be combined with GIS/location details and digital earth technology.

    I also had the opportunity to give an oral presentation during the Biostatistics session and my talk was titled, “scShapes: A statistical framework for identifying distribution shapes in single-cell RNA-sequencing data,” where I presented the work from my PhD research. I particularly enjoyed presenting my work to such a diverse audience, and for receiving valuable feedback. However, the biggest highlight of the conference for me was the opportunity to be part of the panel at the Women in STEM session, since I felt extremely privileged to talk about my PhD journey in my talk “Pursuing a PhD: Journey so far,” and to be on the same panel as Professor Melanie Bahlo; who’s at the forefront of statistical bioinformatics both nationally and internationally.

    I would like to thank the SSA Qld for providing me with financial support to attend ANZSC 2021, as I was extremely pleased with my conference experience since I learned new statistical methods, and applications in the field which I believe will be very useful in my career. Although this year the conference was online, the organisers ensured that participants had the full conference experience through platforms like Zoom and Slack, as we had the opportunity to ask questions and network with other presenters and participants. Attending ANZSC 2021 was a fantastic experience because students and experts working in a variety of statistical disciplines came together to share their research and provide feedback to each other.  



    The ANZSC2021 conference began with an inspiring keynote presentation by Professor Frauke Kreuter, as her presentation on combining data from different sources for social media was useful, and quite new to me. Afterwards, I enjoyed the wonderful talk about randomized trials by Hon. Dr Andrew Leigh, MP. However, I need to highlight the talk by Distinguished Professor Kerrie Mengersen about The Australian Cancer Atlas, since this talk helped me to understand geological based cancer data in Australia, and I hope to use this data in my research. Noel Cressie, one of my favourite authors, presented an interesting talk on the comparison of global geophysical models, and all the talks were useful for my research career, but specifically for my area of research in copula modelling, spatial modelling, and spatio-temporal modelling. The sessions for environmental statistics, modelling, statistical theory, and methods were useful, because they provided numerous insights to my PhD project.

    I presented my conference talk on Day 3 titled, “Copula modelling for spatial data: a new approach to model multivariate spatial dependency,” although I was quite nervous before the talk began since this was my first experience at a virtual conference. However, I presented well and answered all the questions from the audience, and Noel Cressie’s question was especially helpful in improving my methods. Also, other members of the audience had positive feedback on Slack, which encouraged me to progress well with my research.

    Firstly, I would like to express my gratitude to my principal supervisor Associate Professor Helen Thompson, who suggested I attend this conference and helped me in preparing the conference talk and abstract. Secondly, I sincerely thank my Associate supervisor Professor You-Gan Wang, who also reviewed my abstract and gave me valuable suggestions. Finally, I must thank QUT, ACEMS, and SSA Qld for their financial assistance.



    Extending Bayesian model averaging methodology for application across multiple unsupervised clustering methods

    A variety of methods have been developed to combine inference across multiple sets of results for unsupervised clustering, within the ensemble and consensus clustering literature. The approach of reporting results selected from the “best” model out of several candidate clustering models ignores the uncertainty that arises from choosing the model, and results in inference that is sensitive to the chosen model and parameters, especially with small sample size data. Bayesian model averaging (BMA) is a popular approach for combining results across multiple models that offers some attractive benefits in this setting, including intuitive probabilistic interpretation of an overall cluster structure integrated across multiple sets of clustering results, with quantification of model-based uncertainty.

    Previous application of BMA for clustering has been developed in the context of finite mixture models, using the Bayesian Information Criterion (BIC) to approximate model evidence for weighted averaging of results across selected models. In this work we proposed an extension to BMA methodology to enable weighted model averaging across results from multiple clustering algorithms, by using a combination of clustering internal validation criteria in place of the BIC to weight results from each model. We presented results exploring the utility of this approach with a case study applying BMA across results, from several popular unsupervised clustering algorithms, to identify robust subgroups of individuals based on electroencephalography (EEG) data. We also used simulated clustering datasets to explore the utility of this technique to identify robust integrated clusters.

    Personal Highlights

    Overall, I was amazed at how smoothly and seamlessly this online conference ran, and massive kudos to the organisers for making everything run without hiccups across Slack and Zoom! Some talk highlights for me included: Professor Renate Meyer's plenary about Bayesian Time Series Tools for Gravitational Wave Astronomy; Dr Karen Lamb's talk about Obesogenic Environments and the Health Effects of Residing in 20-minute Neighbourhoods; and Dr Edgar Santos-Fernandez's talk about Spatio-Temporal Models for River Networks. I was also helped by Dr Nicole White's mini tutorial on implementing mixture models for unsupervised clustering, since this tutorial really helped bed down my familiarity and confidence with these methods, and I am grateful for Nicole's expertise and clear explanations. There were so many interesting talk titles and abstracts, that it was hard to choose which parallel session to attend live, and I’m looking forward to watching recordings of some more great talks over the next couple of weeks!

    Thank you very much to the SSA Qld branch for funding my attendance, as I’m grateful for the opportunity, and I had an awesome time at ANZSC2021.

  • 22 Jul 2021 6:11 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    Dr Emi Tanaka* from Monash University gave a talk to members of the South Australian Branch on Programming paradigms x Statistical software design.

    Emi started off by illustrating 5 computer programming paradigms in terms of drawing faces which was a very useful analogy.

    Imperative programming is when your code to draw a face is lines of code that instruct the computer to do something. Functional programming where you gather your code together and generalize it in a ‘function’, so you can repeatedly apply the same code but with different attributes.  Syntactic sugar where functions are designed to make it easier to express for humans- this may be as simple as giving a function a sensible name representing what it actually does, for example instead of calling it “face1” it could be called “face_angry”. Rethinking functions arguments -separating the parts of the function into sensible parts. In terms of the face, instead of having a function that creates the whole face, breaking it down into face parts (eyes, mouth, face shape)- each of which can be altered individually and also added to eg. Adding a mole or eyebrows.  Object -oriented programming where the previous arguments of function are now objects. Now anyone can add a new object to add to the available options.

    Emi recognized that software implements a mix of paradigms- and illustrated how they related to statistical programming. She looked at the ‘Grammar of graphics’ and illustrated with ggplot (a function from the R package ggplot2) which uses object-oriented programming style. ggplot follows the equifinality principal where there is more than one approach to the same thing. This allows users which may have different mental models to approach the same graph in different ways. Emi gave examples using a data set of the agridat R package, where the plot can show either infection rate or treatment, how easy it is to add captions, titles labels, change colours. ggplot allows the user to draw publication ready graphics.

    Next was the ‘Grammar of data manipulations’ illustrated with the R library dplyr which combines element of syntactic sugar but has the disadvantage that the user may not understand the nuances of what is happening. dplyr is essentially a pipeline – consistent in terms of input and output, where both are ‘data.frames’.

    Emi finished with the ‘Grammar of experimental design’ and touched briefly on some standard experimental design- from completely randomized design to split-plot designs. For the R package there is a CRAN task view of design of experiments with 112 R-packages, with the top downloaded packages in 2020 being AlgDesign and agricolae. Emi noted that Python another popular software language doesn’t have a lot of experimental design tools- R is really the best for experimental design and has the latest tools available in this space. In the grammar of experimental design space Emi has been developing her own package in R called edibble. Emi had taken the 3 components of experimental designs: Experimental units, treatments, allocations to treatments along with potential constraints for example blocks and created an interactive approach to generating an experimental design using ‘edibble’ which maps the 3 components using a sequential pipeline with ‘syntactic sugar’, complementing other experimental design tools.

    Emi has made her slides available, and they can be found at:

    Emi is hoping to expand to designs for clinical trials next year in collaboration with Andrew Forbes- so watch this space!

    On behalf of those attending the talk – thanks Emi for an insightful look into programming and your new R package.

    Helena Oakey

    *Dr. Emi Tanaka is a lecturer in statistics at Monash University whose primary interest is to develop impactful statistical methods and tools that can readily be used by practitioners. Her research areas include data visualisation, mixed models and experimental designs, motivated primarily by problems in bioinformatics and agricultural sciences. She is currently the President of the Statistical Society of Australia Victorian Branch and is an avid programmer in R, HTML/CSS and other computational languages.

  • 15 Jul 2021 9:11 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    A reminder that SSA Vic are 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 ECSSC 2021 

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

    Please use this 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.

  • 8 Jul 2021 3:40 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    The Statistical Society of Australia (SSA) awards the Pitman Medal (named after E. J. G. Pitman), at most once annually, in recognition of outstanding achievement in, and contribution to, the discipline of Statistics. 

    SSA is pleased to announce

    Rob J Hyndman FAA FASSA, Professor of Statistics and Head of the Department of Econometrics & Business Statistics at Monash University, 

    as the Pitman Medal winner in 2021.

    Rob Hyndman is one of the world’s most recognised statisticians and is internationally recognised for cultivating widespread interest around forecasting. He has authored about 200 papers, chapters, or books on statistical topics since 1991. His most important contributions are in the areas of time series forecasting, forecast reconciliation, energy forecasting, and demographic fore- casting. The methodology developed in Hyndman’s research papers is used in many fields including epidemiology, demography, energy management, optometry, meteorology, operations research, pharmacology, environmetrics, tourism, ecology, satellite imaging, and chemistry. Google Scholar calculates more than 29 400 citations of his work (17 900 in the last five years). His H-index is 62.

    Rob Hyndman has been Editor of three statistical journals as well as an Associate Editor for the International Journal of Forecasting from 2001–2004 and 2019.

    Hyndman was a Director of the International Institute of Forecasters from 2005–2018. He was Secretary of the Victorian branch council of the Statistical Society of Australia for several years in the late 1990s. Also, he was the Victorian representative on the Central Council of the Statistical Society of Australia for some time in the 1990s.

    Hyndman is frequently asked to advise the Australian Bureau of Statistics on methodological is- sues, most recently to correct the well-publicised problems they had with unemployment seasonal adjustment in August 2014. He was also a member of the ABS Methodological Advisory Committee from 2010–2018.

    He has been on the scaling committee for the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (overseeing the calculation of the ATAR for all Victorian VCE students) continuously since 1994.

    He has been on the ATAR technical group (and its predecessors) for the Australian Conference of Tertiary Admissions Centres (overseeing the calculation of the ATAR for all Australian Year 12 students) continuously since 2003.

    He has been on the Indigenous Statistical and Information Advisory Group for the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare since 2017.

    Hyndman’s work with the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aging involved reducing the forecast error in the budget for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme from nearly $1 billion per year to less than $50 million per year (out of a budget of $7 billion at the time). His methods continue to be used for forecasting the PBS budget nearly 20 years later.

    Hyndman was the founding Director of Consulting for the Department of Econometrics and Business Statistics at Monash University, and founding Director of the Monash University Business and Economic Forecasting Unit. In these roles he has collaborated with more than 100 commercial clients, in Australia, New Zealand, China, USA, India, the Netherlands, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

  • 8 Jul 2021 3:35 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    The E J G Pitman Young Statisticians Prize is awarded for the most outstanding talk by a “young statistician” at an Australian Statistical Conference. The prize is only open to members of SSA or – in the case of ANZSC2021 - to members of SSA or NZSA, and a ‘young statistician’ means a person enrolled for a degree who is studying either full-time or part-time without age limit, or a person who graduated with a Bachelor’s degree within the past five years, or a person awarded a postgraduate degree within the past year.  The prize winner is selected by a committee of members of the Society appointed by Council.

    At the closing ceremony of ANZSC2021 today, Adrian Barnett commented on how difficult the selection of the winner had been, as so many deserving presentations had been seen during the course of the conference. After thanking the panel of judges involved in making the decision, he was pleased to announce that the Pitman Prize winner for 2021 is Elizabeth Korevaar, who presented “Evaluation of statistical methods used to meta-analyse results from interrupted time series studies: a simulation study”.

    Congratulations, Elizabeth Korevaar!

  • 7 Jul 2021 3:44 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

      mikemacmarketing, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons 

    Can artificial intelligence answer important medical questions?

    A collaboration between a biostatistician and a data scientist.

    $2,000 scholarships available for two successful applicants

    The Australian Pharmaceutical Biostatistics Group (APBG) is providing a fantastic opportunity for undergraduates or new graduates in the data science and statistical fields to work together on this important conundrum.

    Biostatisticians and data scientists often have different approaches to answering important clinical questions.  Classical statistical regression methods used for prediction modelling are well understood in the statistical sciences and the scientific community that employs them. These methods tend to be transparent and are usually hypothesis driven but can overlook complex associations with limited flexibility when a high number of variables are investigated. In addition, when using classic regression modelling, choosing the ‘right’ model is not straightforward. Non-traditional machine learning algorithms, and machine learning approaches, may overcome some of the limitations of classical regression models in this new era of big data, but are not a complete solution as they must be considered in the context of the limitations of data used in the analysis.

    In this project, you will receive a large dataset with an underlying correlation structure.  You will work together with your assigned collaborator to discover the algorithm that best fits the data.

    You will be expected to meet with the APBG steering committee to present updates on your project, provide a written report, code, and present your findings at our annual meeting which is to be held in December 2021.

    Applications are welcomed from undergraduates or graduates of Data Science or Statistics or related fields who are based in Australia or New Zealand.

    Grant amount: $2,000 each for successful applicants (one data scientist, one biostatistician).

    How to apply: Send your one-page CV, plus a covering letter explaining why you would be suitable for this opportunity to by 15 August 2021.  Successful applicants will be notified by the end of August 2021.

    This scholarship opportunity is provided by APBG, in partnership with the SSA.  The Australian Pharmaceutical Biostatistics Group is a not-for-profit association of pharmaceutical industry statisticians in Australia, whose mission is to ensure high statistical standards within Australia to assist in the decision processes which provide safe, efficacious and cost-effective health care products produced in a regulated environment for the health and quality of life of people.


  • 2 Jul 2021 1:23 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    This week’s Intergenerational Report highlights the vast structural challenges ahead for Australia’s society, economy and federal budget. In the coming years, we face a slowing economy, a huge productivity challenge, a dropping birth rate, and a long-term COVID hangover. This sharpens the imperative for clever investments now to put Australia on a path to become a global science and technology superpower. Science and technology are the answer to every one of these challenges. We made this case in STA’s media commentary this week, syndicated nationally and in The Canberra Times and Business Insider

    STA’s lifeblood is our members. We are always delighted to welcome the leadership of our member organisations to serve in STA’s governance structures. This month, Women in STEMM Australia co-chair Dr Marguerite Evans-Galea joins STA’s Policy Committee. Ecological Society of Australia President Dr Bek Christensen and former Statistical Society of Australia President Professor Adrian Barnett were reappointed for a second term. Joining the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee are Dr Susanna Cramb of the Statistical Society of Australia, Dr Erin McGillick of Reproductive Health Australia, and Dr Tara Roberson of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems. Susannah and Erin are also Superstars of STEM. We warmly welcome them to all their new roles!

    Following last year’s excellent virtual event, STA will host the official launch of National Science Week 2021. Register now for this free online event as we explore The Science of Recovery, Resilience & Renewal with an outstanding expert panel.

    Next week, we will proudly launch our Reconciliation Action Plan. It sets out a clear path with measurable actions over the coming year. We will soon be inviting you and your members to join us for this important online event. We also congratulate Kamilaroi man Corey Tutt - CEO of STA member organisation Deadly Science - whose new book The First Scientists is now available for pre-order. We can’t wait to read it, Corey!

    Finally, this week we are delighted to welcome our newest member of the STA family - Cruxes Innovation. Cruxes runs research translation coaching and mentoring programs to help researchers to work with industry to apply brilliant science and research. Their membership of STA is especially timely as momentum grows in the opportunities for Australia on research translation. Please join me and the STA Board in warmly welcoming Cruxes - and its leaders Jonathan Lacey and Emily Chang - to the STA community.

    Until next time, 

    Misha Schubert 
    CEO, Science & Technology Australia 

  • 23 Jun 2021 2:30 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    Science And Technology Will Enable Us To Seize The Future.

    Together, they are key to solve humanity’s most complex challenges – and to forge new opportunities for Australia.

    To enable them to play this pivotal role, we need to safeguard and strengthen our sovereign science,  technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) capabilities.

    Our competitor nations have a clear-eyed strategic understanding about how a strong STEM system unleashes economic growth and creates jobs, seeds new industries, and leads to major breakthroughs to save lives.

    Australia should be every bit as ambitious in its STEM capabilities as other nations across the globe.

    In this blueprint, we outline a bold policy vision for how Australia can achieve this.

    Through clever strategic investments, leveraged global collaboration, and a coordinated national strategy, we can seize advantages for our nation – and keep pace with the world.

    And this will enable us to tackle the next big challenges we face at home and abroad.

    Science and technology have been at the forefront of Australia’s approach to managing intensifying bushfire seasons and a global pandemic. They are essential in the urgent rebuilding of our economy.

    A stronger STEM capability will help to save and improve lives - and translate more of our world-leading research into products, services, jobs and industries in Australia.

    This blueprint offers Science & Technology Australia’s policy vision on:

    • A national strategy to extend crucial science and technology capabilities;
    • An ambitious target of levelling-up R&D investment to 3 per cent of GDP to keep pace and compete with our international rivals;
    • A new $2.4 billion research translation and commercialisation fund to turbo-charge more of Australia’s ideas and innovations into products, services, and jobs;
    • A major new initiative to inspire school students to grow their skills, knowledge, and love of STEM in order to arrest the alarming slide in maths and science skills among school students;
    • Policy deeply informed by research and evidence;
    • Increased and deepened internationally collaborative research and engagement; and
    • A diverse and inclusive STEM workforce.

    The policies are mutually reinforcing, and of equal importance to the STEM sector.

    We commend this policy vision to you.

    See our vision here.

  • 23 Jun 2021 11:44 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

    The Statistical Society of Australia wishes to emphasise our support of trans people and the gender diverse community: within the SSA, and more broadly. The SSA is committed to ensuring the statistical community in Australia is welcoming and inclusive, and will not tolerate anti-transgender bias, including discrimination in any form.

    As statisticians, we are often involved with the collection and analysis of data on gender and sex. The SSA encourages all researchers to collect data on gender and sex in an inclusive way, in compliance with the Federal Sex Discrimination Act. We encourage our members to ensure that data collection for gender and sex can accurately and adequately reflect both cis and trans people in studies that they are involved in. We recommend consulting the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Standard for Sex, Gender, Variations of Sex Characteristics and Sexual Orientation Variables, available here.

    The SSA wishes to thank Transgender Victoria for their advice in the preparation of this statement.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software