Vic Branch Young Stats Showcase


Georgia Tsambos, our Vic Branch Young Stats Representative, with Thiyanga Talagala, Kelsey Grantham, Anurika De Silva, and Dilini Talagala.

On the 19th of September, the Victorian branch of the SSA hosted a showcase evening for the best and brightest of our young statisticians. Four PhD students were invited to speak from a field of competitive applicants, giving the audience an opportunity to learn about some of the latest research coming out of our local universities.

Biostatistics was a notable focus of the evening; Anurika De Silva spoke about imputing missing data in longitudinal health studies, and Kelsey Grantham introduced us to problems relating to correlation in cluster randomised control trials. The other talks focused on time series models. We heard from Dilini Talagala about identifying anomalies in time series data, while Thiyanga Talagala taught us about selection techniques to improve forecasts.

With support from the SSA, these four speakers also attended the 2017 Young Statisticians Conference in Tweed Heads, where their work was very well-received. Here’s what they had to say about their experience:

Anurika De Silva

I tried my best not to be distracted by the beautiful sunny weather in the Gold Coast, as I was the first speaker at this year’s Young Statisticians Conference (YSC), which was also my first YSC. However, it was extremely hard, given that the conference was held at Tweed

Events, Twin Towns, a picturesque location overlooking the ocean. The organising committee should be applauded for putting together an intensive two-day conference with over 35 talks from early career statisticians, 5 keynote speeches by experienced and highly skilled senior researchers, and an extremely insightful career panel session. Even though I was nervous to be the first speaker, it also gave me the opportunity to enjoy all the great talks which followed. Early career statisticians from Australia and overseas, presented fascinating talks related to both theoretical and applied statistics. The keynote speeches were intuitive and insightful. A broad range of topics were discussed

by the speakers, and they truly inspired all us young statisticians. The career sessions panel provided a balanced perspective into being a part of both academia and the industry, enriched with experiences of the panel members. The final session of the conference:

“Future Think” by Prof. Kerry Mengersen was a great interactive session, with an insight into the perspectives of different generations, and the importance of thinking forward. 

The conference dinner which was held at Bin 72, was very well organised with mind boggling games, drinks and too much to eat. I had the opportunity to connect with several early career statisticians, while attempting to match celebrities with their baby pictures. It was clear to everyone in my group that we know too much about Hollywood, when we emerged victorious at this game. Attending the YSC 2017 gave me the opportunity to network with early career statisticians working in diverse areas, and listen to the expertise of senior statisticians. I would like to thank all my supervisors for their endless support, and the Victorian Branch of the Statistical Society of Australia for providing me with a travel grant to attend the YSC 2017.


Kelsey Grantham

It was so fun hearing about all the different ways people are using statistics to solve problems at the Young Statisticians Conference in Tweed Heads. The talks over the two  days covered a wide range of application areas and tackled many different methodological challenges. Some projects dealt with a lack of data, such as exploring approaches for imputing missing values, while others aimed to process large amounts of data, such as from freight routes around Australia or streaming time series. Some of the other challenges came down to the design of surveys to appropriately capture the information of interest, or to the communication of statistical analyses to a wider audience. Needless to say, we all had lots to talk about during the breaks and social events. I’m grateful to the SSA Victorian branch for helping fund my trip. It was a great conference, especially as the first one of my PhD, and I hope to go to the next one in two years when (fingers crossed) I’ll be wrapping up my PhD Work.

Dilini Talagala

YSC 2017 was a great opportunity for me to connect with the best students and early career professionals in my field from all around the country. It also gave me a great platform for me to introduce my research findings to a wider community and thereby gain feedback for further improvement. The keynote speakers of YSC 2017 are leading researchers in areas that directly link to my research interests. The career session was also very useful and it was awesome to listen to the panel who shared their passion to help our mission. “Future Think” session was another interesting event that I enjoyed a lot. It was truly amazing to see how the world will look like in ten years through statisticians’ eye. The YSC 2017 video competition was also a good way to gain new insight into possible research and allowed me to connect even with those who were unable to attend the conference. All this in an amazing place, Twin Towns which enables a person to be present in two states at the same time. I am truly grateful to the Victorian Branch of Statistical Society of Australia for funding me to attend YSC 2017 and have this amazing experience.

Thiyanga Talagala

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Victorian Branch of Statistical Society of Australia (SSA Vic) for the support funds to attend Young Statisticians Conference (YSC) 2017. As one of this year’s recipients, I am so grateful for the opportunities provided by this award. YSC 2017 was a fantastic conference. I believe the mixture between academia and industry has been one of the key ingredients, which contributed to the success of the conference. The conference offered a unique meeting point for many like-minded people. I was able to strengthen my network amongst fellow researchers. The event was a truly memorable experience.



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