Young NSW statisticians attending ISCB ASC 2018

The SSA NSW branch provided travel grants to assist NSW statistics students in attending this year’s Joint International Society for Clinical Biostatistics and Australian Statistical Conference in Melbourne. Four grants were awarded, and the recipients have each provided a short report of their experiences.

Manzoor Khan, UNSW

At the ISCB-ASC conference, statisticians came from all over the world to present their research. The conference was helpful in exploring new research areas for my PhD and future career. This included the application of Bayesian methods in biostatistics, stratified micro-randomized trials with application in mobile health, propensity score and related methods, network meta-analysis, missing data methods, futility analysis, mediation analysis, application of statistics in epidemiology, longitudinal analysis, time series and forecasting and effective data visualization.

I met and discussed my research with statisticians who have worked in areas relevant to my PhD such as current SSA president Adrian Barnett and Martin Bland. Early career researcher day (30th August) was a great experience for me as I learned how to plan for future research projects and how to achieve my goals.

In short, the ISCB-ASC conference was a life-changing experience where I met with researchers from around the globe, learning about different research areas and networking with other statisticians. I would like to thank the NSW Branch for helping facilitate this opportunity.

Mijan Rahman, University of Newcastle

It was a great opportunity for me to attend in the ISCB-ASC2018 conference, Melbourne. On 26 August, I attended one the workshops titled “Multi-state Survival Data”. The workshop was conducted by Terry Therneau who is an author of the book “Modelling Survival Data”. This was absolutely a successful workshop, with more than 50 participants from within and outside of Australia sharing their experiences on modelling complex longitudinal survival data. I took part in the discussion through raising several questions and sharing my experience. After the workshop, I had a one-on-one discussion with the presenter to further discuss the complexity of multi-state survival and multi-state Markov models.  I found the discussion very valuable in relation to my PhD project.

On the first official day of the conference, the plenary presentation by Susan Murphy was an outstanding speech that focussed on Stratified Micro-Randomized Trials with Applications in Mobile Health. I met with several international researchers in particular from Europe and South Asia. I provided an oral presentation on predicting transition probability from multi-state Markov models in the first concurrent academic session. I received helpful feedback on my study, which I will take into account in the next stage of analysis. On the second day, the plenary sessions by Louise Ryan and Thomas Lumley on simple stratified ways of analysing and validation of large health datasets were notable presentations and very important in the context of big data analysis.

I visited the poster sessions and found high quality interesting studies which are relevant to my research.  I had discussions with several poster presenters to get detailed insights into their studies. In the poster competition sessions, the three-minute presentations and subsequent selection of the best presenter by the audience was fabulous. I attended several concurrent sessions and one presentation by Michael Crowther titled “Extended multivariate generalised linear and non-linear mixed effects models: One model might fit all” was extremely useful for those who struggle with fitting different statistical models.

Overall, I found the conference highly beneficial to my current study and future research and career direction. I am grateful to SSA NSW for selecting me for a student support prize to attend in this conference.

Nishanthi Raveendran, Macquarie University

Attending the joint International Society for Clinical Biostatistics and the Statistical Society of Australia conference in Melbourne (August 26-30, 2018) gave me a wonderful opportunity to listen to, and learn from experts in different research areas. Specifically, the sessions that focused on spatial-temporal and network modelling in a clustering setting were useful, and have given me some new ideas to explore and investigate. As this was an international conference, I also had the opportunity to meet overseas delegates while establishing new and strengthening existing contacts with Australian PhD students. Statisticians at different stages of their careers presented guidance and useful tips, including an expert in biostatistics, Professor Louise Ryan. In addition I had chance to listen to Professor Noel Cressie, one of the most famous statisticians in spatial statistics. A morning session with a particular focus on helping young researchers navigate their statistical research and careers in Australia was also convened. The poster session gave me great opportunity to find out about new areas with clear explanations. Attending the conference dinner gave me an excellent networking opportunity in an informal atmosphere. I thank the NSW branch of the SSA for awarding me the Student Support Prize which helped to fund a part of my attendance at this conference. I also thank my supervisor and department for their encouragement and for supporting my attendance at this great conference.

Weichang Yu, University of Sydney

My experience at the Joint International Society for Clinical Biostatistics and Australian Statistical Conference was nothing less than extremely awesome considering the social connections that I had with leading researchers in my field, the numerous intellectually stimulating talks and the delightful conference dinner.

During the conference, I was greatly enriched by both the technical and soft skills exhibited by the presenters. In particular, the talk by Dr Chris Holmes on Bayesian Learning at Scale with approximate models reinforced by confidence in the application of Bayesian modelling to ultra-big datasets (with a substantial proportion of missing data). His summary on the strengths and weaknesses of the Bayesian modelling in large-scale datasets also influenced the direction of my research.  In particular it helps me with the specific problems that I need to tackle when proposing new Bayesian models in my research.

During my own presentation on the Variational Nonparametric Discriminant Analysis, I also received helpful feedback, namely from Prof Murray Aitkin, with whom I managed to exchange ideas with over the tea break.

Overall, I am very grateful to Statistical Society of Australia (NSW Branch) for making my trip possible. I look forward to ASC 2020!




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