young statisticians section

The YSS is one of the Sections of the Royal Statistical Society

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Nightingale2020 badge

The Young Statisticians Section commissioned this beautiful badge to celebrate Florence Nightingale’s birth bicentenary, with the support and funding of the Royal Statistical Society Nightingale2020 planning group.

Nightingale2020 badge commissioned by the Royal Statistical Society to Science on A Postcard

Born in 12 May 1820, Florence Nightingale was the first female member of the RSS in 1858. She remained a member until her death over 50 years later.

The badge includes the following features:

The badge will be awarded to the winners of several events during the year, including our #FloViz data visualisation competition, the Young Researchers using Statistics Symposium organised by the Royal Statistical Society Highlands and Islands Local Group and the Royal Statistical Society international conference.

Altea Lorenzo-Arribas, 12th July 2020

#FloViz winners

Most creative

Bubbleplot in Jupyter, by Roddy Jaques

Most innovative

Animated coxcomb in R, by Sian Bladon

Most accurate

Coxcomb reproduction in R, Edward Gunning

Children category

Nandita Das for her beautiful version of the diagram in the shape of Athena, Flo’s pet owl

Eider Díaz de Argandoña for her impressive plots and website analysing Nightingale’s data

Entries were judged by David Green (director of the Florence Nightingale museum), Lucy Teece (YSS chair, University of Leicester), Craig Anderson (YSS meetings secretary, University of Glasgow). Liz Buckingham-Jeffery (YSS & RSS Nightingale2020 Planning group, Highways England) & Altea Lorenzo-Arribas (YSS & RSS Nightingale2020 Planning group, BioSS).

#FloViz challenge entries

#NeonStats kindly designed by Chelsea Parlett-Pelleriti featuring Florence Nightingale’s quote “To understand God’s thoughts one must study statistics”.

Florence Nightingale’s famour polar area or rose diagram (also known as coxcomb) has been well studied through history. We asked our followers to create their interpretation of these popular plots in any media or software they wished and these are the fantastic results from the #FloViz challenge.

We would like to highlight the collaborative spirit and discussion that has been created by the participants during the past 9 days, where code has been provided, feedback has been shared and mutual support has been shown. Please check the hashtag #FloViz to follow these fascinating #dataviz conversations.

Adult entries

In order of submission the adult entries to the challenge are:


Reproduction of the coxcombs in R, by Edward Gunning (University of Limerick)

Code and additional info:


Reproduction of second set of coxcombs representing Manchester mortality in R, by Edward Gunning (University of Limerick)

Code and additional info:

Edward has summarised his two entries in the form of an infographic:


Animated coxcomb showing overlapping sectors in R, by Dan Miller


Stacked bar chart showing mortality by cause for British soldiers in the Crimean War in R, by Will Ball (Edinburgh Napier University)



Facetted bar chart in R by Will Ball (Edinburgh Napier University)



Facetted bar chart with free scales in R, by David Henderson (Edinburgh Napier University)



Simplified bar chart version in R, by David Henderson (Edinburgh Napier University)



Animated visualisation of the annual rate of deaths attributed to preventable infection in R, by Sian Bladon (University of Manchester).



Animated comparison of monthly mortality rate over time by cause of dealth and estimated army size in R, by Graham Wheeler (University College London).



Area plot of deaths by causes, by James Jackson


Mortality bubbleplot in Jupyter, by Roddy Jaques


Children entries

In order of submission the children entries to the challenge are:


Beautiful Florence’s pet owl Athena made with coxcomb-like shapes, by Nandita Das.


Impressive plots and website, by Eider Díaz de Argandoña.

We’ll announce the winners of the prizes tomorrow 12th May 2020 at noon (GMT+1).

The three winning prizes in each category will win one of these amazing badges designed by Heidi Gardner (Science on a Postcard).

Just for fun

In order to get the challenge started, we produced some fun reinterpretations, see below!

We even got our own hex sticker! Thanks to Edward Gunning for coding this!

Let’s continue celebrating Florence Nightingale pioneering work by keeping the hashtag #FloViz alive. Please continue tweeting your visualisations and we’ll circulate them. Who knows, there might even be some sparee badges 😉

Florence Nightingale #dataviz competition (for children and adults!)

In the run-up to the celebrations of the bicentenary of the birth of Florence Nightingale on the 12th of May, we invite you to take part in our data visualisation competition.

As well as for her pioneering work in nursing, Florence will be always associated to the polar area diagram of Crimean War deaths also known as the Coxcomb or rose chart. As described by Alison Hedley in her Significance article on Victorian visualisation, “the polar area graph was among many visualisations that Nightingale used to highlight the relationship between mortality and sanitation that she perceived based on both her first-hand experience as a nurse and the medical data gathered at war hospitals.”

But nearly 200 years later… can you do better than Florence? We challenge you to create a fun, interesting, and creative way to present the same data.

Nightingale’s diagram of the causes of mortality in the Crimean War.
Source: Wikimedia commons

We welcome entries using any software or media from both adults and children.

You can download the data Florence used below (source: Understanding Uncertainty):

(also available in the R package HistData)

The data corresponds to estimated average monthly strength of the Army; and the deaths and Annual Rate of Mortality (AMR) per 1000 in each month, from April 1854 to March 1856 (inclusive), in the Hospitals of the Army in the East.

Age appropriate data

There are several online generators (e.g., LiveGap or IASTE research group) that will allow younger kids to input their own data and create coxcombs.

In R you can generate a simple polar diagram with your own toy data using the following code (Source: Carolyn Parkinson):

# function to compute standard error of mean
se <- function(x) sqrt(var(x)/length(x)) 

# set seed for reproducible results

# create toy data
DF <- data.frame(variable = as.factor(1:12),
                 value = sample(12, replace = TRUE))

# create bar plot
plot <- ggplot(DF, aes(variable, value, fill = variable)) +
  geom_bar(width = 1, stat = "identity", color = "white") +
  geom_errorbar(aes(ymin = value - se(DF$value), 
                    ymax = value + se(DF$value), 
                    color = variable), 
                    width = .2) + 
  scale_y_continuous(breaks = 0:nlevels(DF$variable)) +
  theme_gray() +
  theme(axis.ticks = element_blank(),
        axis.text = element_blank(),
        axis.title = element_blank(),
        axis.line = element_blank())
# create polar area diagram
plot + coord_polar()

How to enter

You can send your entries to our email or tweet us @statsyss using the hashtag #FloViz

Please note that we will share the entries on our Social Media and Website.

Closing date

Deadline for submissions is midnight (GMT+1) of the 10th May 2020.


We will pick winning entries from 3 adults and 3 children, and they will receive one of these #Nightingale2020 badges designed by Heidi Gardner (Science on a Postcard). Winners will be announced at noon (GMT+1) of the 12th May 2020.

Florence Nigthingale badge
designed by Science on a postcard.

YSS Lunch Club

The YSS are aware that, due to the current COVID-19 outbreak, many are having to self-isolate or work from home. This could result in many young statisticians feeling isolated or lonely. We have put together the YSS Lunch Club to try to help!

The YSS Lunch Club will consist of online meetings which run from 12:00 (GMT) on Wednesday lunch times for half an hour. Meetings will alternate between discussions of a range of statistical and professional development topics and a pub quiz, both in an informal setting with plenty of time to chat.

Links for upcoming YSS Lunch Clubs are below.
If you have any suggestions for light-hearted topics that we could discuss during our meetings then please send us an email:

Wednesday 8th April: Quiz
Join us in #YSSLunchClub for our third general knowledge Quiz!
A jovial, pub quiz style session just for fun.
📅 Wednesday 8th April
⏰ 12:00 BST (GMT+1)
💻 Zoom Link:
🗝️ Password: 080420

Wednesday 1st April: Bad News
No news is good news, but some headlines are splendidly inaccurate!
Join us for #YSSLunchClub where this week we’ll be reviewing the headlines that might make you cringe, recoil, or gasp with horror.
📅 Wednesday 1st April
⏰ 12:00 BST (GMT+1)
💻 Zoom Link:

Friday 27th March: Friday Quiz
Join us in #YSSLunchClub for our second Friday Quiz!
A jovial, general knowledge, pub quiz style session to end the week.
📅 Friday 27th March
⏰ 12:00 GMT
💻 Zoom Link:

Wednesday 25th March: xkcd comics
This lunch club is for anyone who enjoys a sarcasm, statistics, and comics. We’ve trawled through and dug out our favourite statistical comics by Randall Monroe to share with you.
Join us for our third #YSSLunchClub, to admire and enjoy some fantastic short comics and chat with other isolated statisticians.
📅 Wednesday 25th March
⏰ 12:00 GMT
💻 Zoom Link:

Friday 20th March: Friday Quiz
Join us in #YSSLunchClub for our first Friday Quiz!
A jovial, general knowledge, pub quiz style session to end the week.
📅 Friday 20th March
⏰ 12:00 GMT
💻 Zoom Link:

Wednesday 18th March: Bad Graphs
As statisticians we can spend a lot of time editing and adjusting our graphs to make them perfect, but we rarely get to spend any time admiring the bad graphs! 
Join us for our first #YSSLunchClub, during which we will admire, ponder, discuss, and pontificate an array of imperfect, careless, and downright gruesome graphs.
📅 Wednesday 18th March
⏰ 12:00 GMT
💻 Zoom Link:

First YSS bulletin of 2020!

Hot off the press we have our 2020 March Bulletin, showcasing upcoming activities for young statisticians.

Make sure to follow @statsyss on Twitter to keep up to date with our lockdown lunch club!

Manchester Careers Fair

By Emily Granger

Ready with badges, keyrings and enthusiasm, Emily Granger represented the Young Statisticians Section and the Royal Statistical Society at Manchester University’s “Careers in Statistics” event on the 11th March 2020.

This is an annual careers event organised by the Department of Mathematics at Manchester University, and 12 exhibitioners attended to showcase a wide range of statistical careers from automotive businesses to pharmaceutical companies. Students had the opportunity to network with potential employers during the stall exhibition, which was followed by a series of careers talks in the afternoon.

Emily kicked off the talks by introducing the Royal Statistical Society and giving her top reasons for why students should consider joining! We then heard career talks by speakers from the Centre for Biostatistics, HM Revenue & Customs, BBC, GCE Solutions (a global clinical research organization), and Public Health England. Each speaker gave us an idea of what it would be like to work as a statistician in their company.

The visitors to the Royal Statistical Society stand were interested to hear that they could become a e-student member for free, and wanted to learn more about how to become a chartered statistician. We hope that all those who showed interest keep in touch, and we wish you all the best of luck in your future careers. We’ll be looking out for you wearing our badges!

Enter our 2020 writing competition for early-career statisticians

If you read Significance, then you are definitely interested in stories about statistics and data science, and fascinated by what data can tell us about the world we live in. So, how would you like to write one of those stories for the magazine?

If you are an early-career researcher, now is your chance. Our 2020 writing competition, jointly organised with the Young Statisticians Section of the Royal Statistical Society (RSS), is now open for entries.

The competition is for two categories of people: students currently studying for a first degree, Master’s or PhD in statistics or related subjects, and graduates whose last qualification in statistics or related subjects (whether first degree, Master’s or PhD) was not more than five years ago.

The rules of entry are simple: send us your best statistical writing in the form of a magazine article (1,500 to 2,500 words) on any subject you like, and the winning entry will be published in our October 2020 issue.

But what should you write about?

Successful submissions from past years were based on original analyses, produced specifically for the competition. This does take work, but it often results in a unique and compelling article.

Last year’s winners, Liam P. Shaw and Luke F. Shaw, followed in the footsteps of R. D. Clarke, a British actuary who sought to determine whether the apparent clustering of V‐1 strikes on London during the Second World War was the result of targeting or random chance. The year before that, Letisha Smith scraped online recipes and used clustering algorithms to group together foods with similar ingredients to help streamline meal plans and reduce food waste.

You might also write about work you have done as part of your studies or during your career. However, if these articles draw on previously published work, you must ensure that the competition submission is sufficiently different in terms of style and structure. Remember, Significance is a magazine, not an academic journal.

You can also write about the work of others, but this must be in the form of a critique or wider overview of a subject area.

Please help promote the competition in your statistics department or workplace. Download the official poster:

Whatever you choose to write about, articles must be engaging and easy to read. Significance is published for a broad audience, so accessibility is key. This means technical terms and mathematics must be kept to a minimum and explained clearly where used.

We recommend you read articles from past winners and finalists to get a sense of the style of writing and storytelling that judges are looking for. A list of published articles from previous years’ competitions can be found here.

The competition is open until 23:59 on 29 May 2020. Three finalists will be selected in June, with the winner announced in July. The winning article will be published in the October issue of Significance and online at Runners-up may also be published online or in print at the editor’s discretion.

Finalists will be invited to give presentations based on their articles at a special session of the Royal Statistical Society International Conference (7–10 September 2020 in Bournemouth)

How to enter

Email your submissions as a text/Word file, or as a PDF, to Make sure to include our competition entry form:

Closing date

29 May 2020

Competition rules and guidelines

  • Entrants must be either (1) students currently studying for a first degree, Master’s or PhD in statistics or related subjects, or (2) graduates whose last qualification in statistics or related subjects (whether first degree, Master’s or PhD) was not more than five years ago.
  • Articles must be between 1,500 and 2,500 words in length, and can include tables and figures – though, for space reasons, there should be no more than five tables/figures in total.
  • Writing style must be accessible and engaging.
  • Technical terms and mathematics must be used sparingly, and suitably explained where used.
  • End references are encouraged but should be limited to five.
  • Footnotes must not be used.
  • Only submissions in English will be considered.
  • Manuscripts must be original and not under consideration for publication elsewhere. You may submit articles based on work in theses or in papers that have been submitted to, or accepted by, academic journals, provided that the competition submission is sufficiently different in style and structure.
  • Winners, finalists and entrants from previous years of the competition are not excluded from participating in this year’s competition.
  • Articles will be reviewed by a judging panel featuring representatives of both the Young Statisticians Section and Significance.
  • Three finalists will win a full registration to the 2020 Royal Statistical Society International Conference in Bournemouth. Please note that travel and accommodation costs will not be covered.
  • The winning article will be published in Significance magazine and online at
  • Runner-up articles may be published on the Significance website or in Significance magazine at the editor’s discretion.

Statistically Significant Careers – Belfast

Statistically Significant Careers Event is back, with free pizza, on Wednesday 29th January at 2pm at Queen’s University Belfast.

On Wednesday 29th January at 2pm we are pleased to be hosting our annual careers and placements event at Queen’s University Belfast to showcase the wide range of mathematical, statistical and data science careers and placements available. As well as talks from employers, the event will end with a chat to the companies over some free pizza!

The event offers a unique opportunity for undergraduates and graduates to meet their future employers. Professionals from a variety of top employers within the UK and Ireland will be attending and sharing their expertise and experience – making this the ideal occasion to get advice on application processes, potential job and placement opportunities and future career progression.

Everyone is welcome. Please use the link below to register for the event and to see further details of the companies attending:
Places are limited, so please sign up to secure your ticket for the event.

If you have any queries, please contact Lisa McFetridge ( Hope to see you all there!

Volunteers needed for the 2020 YSS Committee


The Young Statistician’s Section (YSS) of the Royal Statistical Society are seeking enthusiastic individuals to join the YSS Committee for 2020. Being a member of the YSS committee is a commitment but very rewarding (and lots of fun!). It’s a great opportunity to network with your peers. If you are interested in finding out more information, please click HERE

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