The annual Belz Lecture is named in tribute to Professor Maurice Belz, who was the first Head of the first Department of Statistics in Australia, at the University of Melbourne. Professor Belz was not only responsible for training many prominent Australian statisticians, he was also active in service to statistics, the University, and to the broader community. The Victorian Branch’s 2017 Belz Lecture was held on October 31, and we were honoured to have Professor Noel Cressie of the University of Wollongong as our 2017 Belz Lecturer.
Professor Cressie was educated at the University of Western Australia and at Princeton University in the USA. He is widely recognised as being at the forefront of the development of the field of spatial statistics, and has received many awards and honours in recognition of his many contributions to that field, including the SSA’s 2014 Pitman Medal, and the Royal Statistical Society’s 2016 Barnett Award. At the 2017 Belz Lecture, Professor Cressie spoke to a packed house about his work with data observed using NASA satellites in a talk titled “A Bird’s-Eye View of Statistics for Remote Sensing Data.” Professor Cressie gave a fascinating insight into the statistical challenges in working with satellite data, which measures column averages of atmospheric components. He spoke about his work in the development and application of hierarchical models to capture the many sources of uncertainty that satellite data is subject to, with the aim of estimating how the amount of carbon dioxide present at the Earth’s surface is changing. Professor Cressie’s lecture reminded us that statisticians have a vitally important role to play in understanding our changing climate.
A recording of the event is available here.
Jess Kasza and Nick Tierney