8 October 2020

Dear {Contact_First_Name},

Welcome to another edition of the SSA newsletter.

It’s been a busy week with many events to keep up with, and I'm not (only) referring to SSA events! There was Tuesday evening’s budget announcement, where a $1 billion boost to university research funding was announced, along with a very welcome $459 million COVID-19 lifeline for CSIRO. The Australian Academy of Science found this to be “… a significant response to the pandemic science crisis,” and I'm sure many of you will agree.

It was also confirmed that just under $40 million will be going towards programs to encourage women and girls to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM). This is welcome news as it will significantly address the underrepresentation of women scientists and technologists in the sector.

If you would like to find out how this budget may affect you, your organisation or your research, you can read Science & Technology Australia’s complete analysis of the budget’s measures here.

Until next week!

Kind regards

Marie-Louise Rankin
SSA Executive Officer

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NSW September Branch meeting:

Rob Salomone takes the NSW Branch on a Monte Carlo trip

For the past couple of years Rob Salomone has been part of the University of New South Wales and the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers as a post-doctoral fellow. At the latest meeting of the New South Wales branch, held on 30th September 2020, Rob gave a very entertaining talk about Monte Carlo - the statistical version.

As is well-known, Monte Carlo is a casino city in the small Mediterraneon country of Monaco. In the 1940s, reseachers at Los Alamos National Laborotories in New Mexico, U.S.A., working on atomic bomb research, borrowed the name for the idea of using sampling methods to approximate integrals. Monte Carlo methods are now a mainstay of statistical methodology. Rob described the Monte Carlo approach in general, and then recent from contributions him and his collaborators.

A recurring theme throughout Rob's presentation was "integration by darts". This involved a graphic of an image plot of a bivariate function, with dart board concentric circles superposed - and these circles being contours of a bivariate density. Throwing darts matches draws from the density, which can be used in an obvious way to approximate the expectation of the function. However, if the bivariate function has important features well away from the bull's eye then integration by darts, i.e. Monte Carlo approximation, can perform poorly. Even in this two-dimension setting the challenges were made apparent. Connections with Bayesian inference were given.

Getting into the second half of this very animated talk, Rob discussed remedies for Monte Carlo challenges such as multiplying by one and adding zero in very smart ways. One of several examples from Rob's research concernedrare events for the sum of dependent log-normal variates. He pointed to papers such as Botev, Salomone & Mackinlay (2019), Salomone, South, Drovandi and Kroese (2020)
and Hodgkinson, Salomone & Roosta (2020). The last one got into Stein operators and Polish spaces - which, from appearances, involve some elegant mathematics in the name of improved Monte Carlo statistical methodology.

Matt Wand
University of Technology Sydney

VIC Branch Early Career Industry Showcase

On the 22nd of September, the Victorian SSA branch brought together more than 100 attendants for the Early Career Industry Showcase. The first part of the event staged six speakers from various companies around Australia working in different Data Science roles. The speakers gave us valuable insights about the type of work they do, strategies that they found valuable to enter or progress in a Data Science career, and important aspects to take into account when thinking about personal development. 

In particular, the first speaker Ben Philips, currently a Data Scientist at Bunnings, gave an overview of his Data Science career path before Bunnings and highlighted how much networking at meetups and other social events was key to finding new job opportunities.

The second speaker Michelle Lugton, Data Science Lead at Coles, stressed the importance for Data Scientists to develop their soft skills and not just to focus on technical skills. For example, by practicing giving talks to a diverse audience or taking on more opportunities to speak to clients or public events.

The third speaker, Nick De Silva, Data Scientist for the REA group, gave some useful advice for early career Data Scientists taken from his personal path. Among the others, he recommended doing more industry experience projects during Masters if one wishes to progress into industry.

The fourth speaker, Sarah Romanes, described what it means to work as a Senior Data Scientist at BCG Gamma^. In particular, she stressed the large diversity and fast pace of the projects and the variety of tools used. Sarah suggested the importance of finding a mentor, especially if you enter as a new consultant in a large company.

Next, Peter Taylor, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers, prompted a discussion with the audience around why academia should or would engage in projects with industry partners and vice versa, what are the types of projects that usually academics would engage with and what makes a successful partnership.

The last speaker of the night, Rose Skandari, Data Science Lead at Citipower and Powercor, told the story of her career shift from Engineering to Data Science while also adapting to living in Australia after moving from Iran. Rose stressed that having a good mentor during her career change was key and she also reiterated the importance of networking at social events.

All the talks can be found as video , audio  or slides .

The fantastic lineup of speakers was followed by a very enjoyable online social gathering. The event was hosted on Airmeet where participants could virtually choose to sit at different virtual tables to interact and socialise with speakers and other participants. At the same time an online bingo was being held where participants could interact in 1-1 speed meetings to get to know some interesting facts about each other and compete to win a prize! 

Anna Quaglieri

COPSS Leadership Academy for Emerging Leaders in Statistics

The SSA is pleased to be a member of the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies and Friends, and is pleased to announce that our members are eligible to nominate for the COPSS Leadership Academy for Emerging Leaders in Statistics. We encourage emerging leaders in Australian statistics to nominate for this award.

Find more details here

Can't sleep? Perhaps you'd like to stay up or wake up for this event:

Statistics for the Public Good

The RSS Glasgow Local Group is proud to welcome Professor Sir Ian Diamond, the UK's National Statistician, to deliver a seminar entitled Statistics for the Public Good, where he will share his thoughts on how the Government Statistical Service has had to adapt in the face of Covid-19.

When? Friday 9 October 2020, 1am AEDT (2pm Glasgow time)

This meeting will be delivered via Zoom. Joining details for the meeting will be supplied prior to the start of the event.

Book now

You are warmly invited to the following webinar hosted by SSA Biostatistics & Bioinformatics Section:

Inferring genetic relatedness to identify disease-causing variants and selection signals

held on Wednesday, 14 October 2020 at 11:30AM AEDT via Zoom, exclusively for members of SSA.

This event is presented by Melanie Bahlo (The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research).

The concept of genetic ancestors is very useful in solving many interesting scientific questions in population genetics and biomedical research. Modelling, or at least recognizing, that genetic signals in genomes of living things are often underpinned by the notion of a genetic ancestor can deliver powerful genetic insights, ranging from identifying hidden genetic relationships between individuals that can pinpoint disease-causing variants in human genomes, to identifying signals of genetic selection in plasmodium, the pathogen that causes malaria. These are two examples that will be discussed during this talk. Some of the statistical techniques applied are simulation methods, hidden Markov models, likelihood ratio tests, permutation testing and outlier detection. These are used to examine large genomic data sets, often processed with third party software generated with its own complex statistical analysis techniques, requiring careful quality controls .

To find out more and to register click here

See more events organised by the SSA Biostatistics & Bioinformatics Section below.

Have you seen the latest

SSA Biostatistics & Bioinformatics Section Newsletter

published today?  It contains updates on the Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Section’s mentoring program pilot, COVID-19 resources related to trials, interesting podcasts, and upcoming SSA or other events.

Read this latest edition

Going to a conference/workshop this year? Check out the SSA Canberra young statisticians "rego" grant!

SSA Canberra is inviting young statisticians from the ACT and regional NSW, who are planning to attend a conference/workshop/short course in a field related to statistics or data science, to apply for financial support in the form of a "SSA Canberra registration grant". SSA Canberra will award an amount up to $200 AUD per successful application. 

Please click here for more information!

Previously advertised - places still available!

The Bayesian Section of the SSA is pleased to announce the following webinar 

Computing Bayes: Bayesian Computation from 1763 to the 21st Century 

with Gael M. Martin on 11 November 2020 at 4:00PM (AEDT).         

About this webinar:

The Bayesian statistical paradigm uses the language of probability to express uncertainty about the phenomena that generate observed data. Probability distributions thus characterize Bayesian inference, with the rules of probability used to transform prior probability distributions for all unknowns - models, parameters, latent variables - into posterior distributions, subsequent to the observation of data. Conducting Bayesian inference requires the evaluation of integrals in which these probability distributions appear. Bayesian computation is all about evaluating such integrals in the typical case where no analytical solution exists. This paper takes the reader on a chronological tour of Bayesian computation over the past two and a half centuries. Beginning with the one-dimensional integral first confronted by Bayes in 1763, through to recent problems in which the unknowns number in the millions, we place all computational problems into a common framework, and describe all computational methods using a common notation. The aim is to help new researchers in particular - and more generally those interested in adopting a Bayesian approach to empirical work - make sense of the plethora of computational techniques that are now on offer; understand when and why different methods are useful; and see the links that do exist, between them all.

To find out more and to register

The Statistical Society of Australia Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Section and Statistical Consulting Network are pleased to offer the following joint workshops:

Getting started with statistical consultancy - Establishing a client base, an operational model and a team

on 16 October 2020 from 10:00 AM - 13:00 PM AEDT via Zoom.

This workshop is the first part of two half-day workshops on statistical consultancy. This half day workshop is designed to provide participants with an understanding and tips of some of the key considerations involved in setting up and running a statistical consultancy from within a university environment:  covering a range of topics including funding and operational models, reaching and securing clients, building and funding a team. The workshop will feature presentations from statisticians experienced in setting up and running a statistical consultancy, as well as an interactive panel session to allow participants to pick the ‘tried and tested’ brains of our experts!

Find out more and book your place

The second half day of the workshop will cover

Essential skills for statistical consultancy - Project management, timelines and communication

on 22 October 2020 from 10:00 AM - 13:00 PM AEDT via Zoom.

This half day workshop is designed to provide participants with an understanding of some of the key skills involved in biostatistical consultancy, covering a range of topics including how to run consultancy projects from start to finish, managing projects, and communication skills. The course will feature presentations from statisticians experienced in biostatistical consultancy, as well as an interactive panel session to allow participants to pick the brains of our experts!

Find out more and book your place

Statistical Consulting Network 2020 Meeting – Abstract submission deadline approaching!

The abstract submission deadline has been extended until 14 October, so this is your last chance to get your abstract in and be part of the

Statistical Consulting Network 2020 Meeting

held on 7 - 9 December 2020 from 11am-2pm AEDT(each day).

The Statistical Consulting Network 2020 Meeting is a virtual event where statistical consultants can connect, present their ideas, discuss best practice, and more!  The event will feature:

  • A keynote talk by Doug Zahn (Florida State)
  • Contributed talks
  • Lunchtime discussions on topical issues in consulting
  • A virtual display hall to view contributed speed talks and posters 
Be part of this event - find out more

Statistics in the Capital: Knibbs Lecture with Ray Carroll and Alan Welsh

Save the date! SSA Canberra invites you to attend this year's Knibbs lecture, which will be presented by Prof. Ray Carroll (Texax A&M). The lecture will also celebrate the 60th birthday of Prof. Alan Welsh (ANU), and his contributions to statistics.  

Date and time:  Tuesday 24th November; 12:30pm-1:45pm AEDT.   

More details will be announced closer to the date of the event. In the meantime, please RSVP for the event  to save the date!
RSVP here

ACEMS Virtual Public Lecture Series -  14 October

Just how much water is down there, and will it last?

Professor Louise Ryan, University of Technology Sydney

Wednesday 14 October, 12pm-1pm AEDT

Water is a precious resource - under increasing global pressure and vulnerability due to rising populations and changing climate patterns. Modelling can offer critical insights into the nature and sustainability of this resource so that effective and equitable decisions can be made regarding its usage. In this lecture, Louise presents various approaches to modelling underground aquifers, which are a significant water source for many parts of Australia. While she will briefly review the classical process-based approaches based on hydro-geological theory, her focus will be more data-driven approaches including dynamic regression modelling that draw on the theory of time series, as well as machine learning approaches such as neural network models and their extensions to the time series domain. Louise will be joined by Dr Stephanie Clark, post-doctoral fellow at the University of Technology Sydney. The presentation draws on work done in collaboration with Professor Rob Hyndman and Mr Mitchell O’Hara-Wild, Monash University and Dr Dan Pagendam, CSIRO.

Register here to receive zoom webinar link

Explore Current Research and Developments

In 2020, AMSI BioInfoSummer is going virtual! Hosted by The Australian National University (ANU), attendees will participate online over the four-day program to develop their bioinformatics skills, national networks and employability.

Join with other advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students, researchers and professionals from the mathematics, statistics, medical sciences and information technology disciplines to explore bioinformatics under the following themes:

·         Single cell / transcriptomics

·         RNA biology

·         Long read sequencing

·         Biomedical optimisation / data science

Find out more

Belz Lecture and World Statistics Day - 20 October 2020, 5.30-7:00pm AEDT

The Vic Branch is delighted to announce details of the Victorian Branch's premier annual event, the Belz Lecture. 

This year's Belz Lecture is extra special because we will also be celebrating World Statistics Day 2020, an initiative from the United Nations Statistical Division with the goal of celebrating and promoting official statistics to policymakers and the general public. The theme of this year's World Statistics Day is "Connecting the world with data we can trust".

The Belz Lecturer for this year, Deputy Australian Statistician Teresa Dickinson, will explore this theme in her lecture titled “To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved”: a maxim for official statistics?

For more information and to register, please click below.

Click here

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