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Yearly Archives: 2014


ANNOUNCEMENT – Early-Career Stats Showcase at the University of Exeter (YSS / ExIStA joint event) on 11 Feb 2015


Early-Career Stats Showcase
Wed 11 February 2015, 5:30pm, University of Exeter

On the evening of Wednesday 11 February 2015, the YSS will be joining forces with ExIStA (Exeter Initiative for Statistics and its Applications) to host a special Early-Career Stats Showcase at the University of Exeter. The aim of this event is to showcase the work of career-young statisticians – or those using statistics in their everyday jobs – based in the South West.

The evening will begin with a series of eight-minute talks from eight speakers whose professions span the statistical spectrum, giving a unique insight into the variety of different careers that are available, and a flavour of the current challenges and future trends within each area. These presentations will be followed by a panel Q&A session, after which the evening will conclude with wine and nibbles, providing an ideal opportunity for networking and further discussion.

Schedule: Coffee and biscuits will be served from 5:00pm. The talks and panel Q&A will run from 5:30pm to 7:00pm. Wine and nibbles will be served from 7:00pm.
Venue: Meeting Rooms 1-3 of the Forum, on the University of Exeter’s Streatham campus (No. 3 on the campus map).
Cost: Free of charge (but please register in advance – see below).

Attendance at the Showcase is open to all, but we’re particularly keen to hear from potential speakers who are in the first ten years of their career. If you are interested in attending the event or giving a talk, please register now via the ExIStA website.


ANNOUNCEMENT – YSS “Statistically Significant Careers” event at Queen’s University Belfast on 10 Dec 2014


Statistically Significant Careers
Wed 10 December 2014, 1:30pm to 5pm, Queen’s University Belfast

Please click on the image above for further details!

To register for the event (free of charge), head over to the SSC webpage at:

REVIEW – RSS Statistical Analytics Challenge session at RSS 2014 on 3 Sep 2014


This year saw the introduction of the annual RSS Statistical Analytics Challenge, a new joint venture by the Young Statisticians Section and the Research Section of the Society. The 2014 Challenge was kindly sponsored by Select Statistics. For six weeks beginning in May, teams of intrepid analysts from across the globe battled it out in the “ultimate test of analytic skill, teamwork and creativity”.

The Challenge brief sets out an open-ended research question relating to a large and complex data set. The goal of the Challenge is for each team to collaboratively explore and analyse the data – using any methods and tools that they wished – and submit a short report summarising their main findings.

Nineteen teams from around the world registered for the 2014 RSS Challenge. Teams were encouraged to include a diverse range of members – male and female, career-young and career-not-so-young – and this diversity was clearly evident in the majority of teams.

This year, the brief focused on the ‘Perils of Data Dredging’, and the Challenge was to produce the most innovative analysis of a set of neuroimaging data (specifically, resting state fMRI data), whilst “highlighting along the way the potential pitfalls for blind or naïve analysis”. No previous knowledge of brain imaging was needed to analyse the data, and teams were free to use as much or as little of the data as they liked (though a minimal data set was established). This freedom was embraced by all teams, and a wide variety of approaches were considered.

The winners of the 2014 Challenge were announced on 4 August 2014.

The Overall Winner was Team UCLStats (Beate Franke, Sam Livingstone, Alfredo Kalaitzis from University College London and Michael Betancourt from Warwick University) with their report entitled “Long-Range Spatiotemporal Dependence of fMRI Imaging Data”.

Team SODA (Chris Brignell, Phillip Pane, Wilhelm Braun and Heather Pettitt) from the University of Nottingham was awarded “Highly Commended Runner-Up” with their report on the “Effect of smoothing halfwidth on estimated network structure in single-subject fMRI data”.

Both teams were invited to present their findings at the YSS and RSS Statistical Analytics Challenge Session at the RSS 2014 conference in Sheffield on Wednesday 3 September 2014. Certificates were presented to both teams by Prof. Chris Jennison at the beginning of the session; this prize-giving was followed by excellent presentations from both teams and a lively discussion with the audience.

With such a excellent response and exciting findings, we are very much looking forward to the RSS Statistical Analytics Challenge 2015 – so assemble your team, embrace the competitive spirit, and get ready to accept the Challenge!

Reviewed by Órlaith Burke.

REVIEW – YSS activities at RSS 2014 (2-4 September 2014)


In early September, the YSS committee were out in force at the RSS 2014 conference in Sheffield, with last year’s harrowing pink t-shirts being replaced by an altogether more credible shade of red. In keeping with previous years, our programme of activities blended the familiar with the innovative, as illustrated by our packed flyer of events (see image above),

Our classic opening session, “The Young Statistician’s Guide to the Conference”, was more popular than ever, with Dr Jenny Freeman kindly taking the stage to furnish the audience with advice on how to get the most out of conference. Our Tuesday lunchtime mixer also attracted a record-breaking 60+ attendees, with a speed-dating icebreaker ensuring the mingling continued throughout the hour. On Tuesday evening, the traditional night of YSS revelry began with an unusually cerebral twist at the Bessemer pub, with more than 70 competitors eagerly battling it out for the inaugural YSS quiz crown, and an array of glittering (and not so glittering) prizes. After we were treated to some impromptu a-capella singing by a local men’s choir, the night swiftly took a cultural downturn, with a short bar crawl around central Sheffield finally culminating in a visit to eyeopening local nightclub “Pop World”.

Wednesday’s YSS activities centred around two special sessions featuring presentations by the winners of the YSS/Significance Writing Competition, and the inaugural Statistical Analytics Challenge, a new contest set up collaboratively by the YSS and the RSS Research Section which will hopefully become a regular item on the YSS calendar. The day also featured sessions showcasing the prizewinning presentations delivered by young statisticians at the YSM 2014 and RSC 2014 conferences earlier in the year, and a snappy 30-minute AGM, during which Matt gave a brief review of the year, and the 2015 YSS committee were voted in. The day concluded with an excellent conference dinner, followed by another short trip around the watering holes of Sheffield.

Finally, on Thursday, the YSS ran a joint session with the Professional Affairs Committee in which statisticians at different points along their career trajoectories spoke about the professional development opportunities they had encountered along the way. The session was well received, and may be a format worth revisiting at future conferences.

All in all, the annual conference was once again an extremely successful three days for the YSS, with lots of positive ideas to build on for the future. Roll on RSS 2015 in Exeter!

REVIEW – YSS / Young Statisticians of IBS at the International Biometric Conference on 7-11 July 2014


The YSS and the Young Statisticians of the International Biometric Society organised several activities especially for the early-career researchers attending the International Biometric Conference in Florence, Italy, on 7-11 July 2014.

A lunchtime ice-breaker got the young statistician proceedings off to a great start, with James Carpenter offering his insider tips and tricks for how to make the most of a conference such as IBC. This was followed by a “statistics speed-dating” networking activity, a in which colour-coded pairs were given 4-5 minutes at a time to talk about particular topics, ranging from personal facts to statistical pet peeves.

One of the highlights in the schedule of talks was the “Young Statisticians Showcase Session”, which proved to be an excellent way to close Monday. This session featured the five winners of the Showcase Competition and PhD students from all over the globe were given the opportunity to present their research. The speakers were: Vinicius Calsavara (University of São Paulo), Laura Fernandes (University of Michigan), Emanuele Giorgi (Lancaster University), Nikki Sewpersad (Durban, South Africa) and Gokmen Zararsiz (Hacettepe University). A wide variety of topics were up for discussion, including wavelets, modelling toxicity in oncology, spatially referenced prevalence studies, drought tolerance potential of sugarcane and bagging support vector machines. The standard of these presentations was truly outstanding and each of the speakers was a well-deserved winner.

Following on from this, the “Young Statisticians Reception” offered young statisticians a great opportunity to mingle with their peers and also provided attendees with a chance to meet Exec Board Directors, former Presidents and Editors, all of whom were invited to attend.

This year, there was only one formal tour organised for the Wednesday, so the organisers of the young statistician events put together an “Explore Florence Together” day. Local students acted as tour guides and showed a group of young statisticians all the highlights that Florence has to offer. The day was a great success, with everyone enjoying the chance to have a gentle stroll through Florence’s cobbled streets, taking in all the tourist hot spots!

When thinking about how best to welcome young statisticians to IBC, the conference organisers didn’t just put together a selection of special events; in addition, a group of young statistician volunteers were always on hand to give directions, information and advice, and their help throughout the conference was hugely appreciated. In addition, in the run up to the conference, an “IBS Young Statisticians” Facebook account was set up (see This proved to be a great way for young statisticians attending the conference to get in touch with each other in advance of the main event, and will should be a great tool for communication in the run up to the next IBC.

The next IBC will be taking place in Victoria in 2016 and a “Young Statisticians Showcase Session” and a “Young Statisticians Mixer” are already scheduled in. Overall, the young statistician events that took place at IBC 2014 were a resounding success – here’s to this success continuing in 2016 and beyond!

Reviewed by Jen Rogers and Silvia Liverani.

ANNOUNCEMENT – The winners of the 2014 YSS/RSS Statistical Analytics Challenge are…


Congratulations to the following two teams who have won prizes in this year’s Statistical Analytics Challenge!

(For further information on the Challenge, please see our advert here:


Overall Winner:

“Long-Range Spatiotemporal Dependence in fMRI Imaging Data”

Team UCLStats – Beate Franke, Sam Livingstone, Alfredo Kalaitzis (University College London) and Michael Betancourt (Warwick University)


Highly Commended Runner-Up:

“Effect of smoothing halfwidth on estimated network structure in single-subject fMRI data”

Team SODA – Chris Brignell, Phillip Paine, Wilhelm Braun, Heather Pettitt (University of Nottingham)


These teams will be invited to present their findings at the YSS and Research Section Statistical Analytics Challenge Session at the RSS 2014 conference in Sheffield on Wednesday 3 September 2014, and will also receive written feedback on their work from the Assessment Panel. In addition, the winning entry from Team UCLStats will be considered for publication in the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series C.

Many thanks to all of those from around the world who accepted the Challenge, and congratulations once again to our winners – we look forward to seeing their presentations in Sheffield.

See you all next year for the 2015 Challenge!


REVIEW – Round table with young statisticians from Europe on 14 Jun 2014


On 14 June 2014, the young section of the Italian Statistical Society (ySIS) organised the first International Young Statistical Meeting (IYSM).

ySIS website:

IYSM website:

The event was dedicated to young statisticians and featured two tutorials, a round table with young statisticians from Europe, and social events. This was the first event totally organised by the newly-born young section of SIS, which began its activities in 2013.

The event officially started on Friday afternoon, with the last session of the SIS scientific meeting (i.e., the PhD Awards Special Session of the SIS prize for the best PhD thesis in Statistics) and continued into the night with an ice-breaking social dinner. For those who survived, the morning of Saturday was dedicated to a wonderful tutorial on Bayesian model selection given by Ed George and Veronika Rockova (The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania), and in the afternoon, Francesco Stingo (MD Anderson Cancer Center) presented an juicy talk on recent advances in bioinformatics.

The event concluded with a lively round table with members of young sections of the main European and International Statistical Societies and young statisticians working in industry, featuring I. Antoniano (j-ISBA), S. Liverani (y-RSS), G. Russolillo (j-SFDS), L. Trinchera (y-BIS), G. Cassarini (MOX-OFF srl), C. Fede (ISTAT), and M. Santoni (Nunatac srl).

IYSM 2014 was a ideal event with which to kick off the activities of y-SIS and presented a great opportunity to bring together young people involved in statistics at national and international level, and foster collaborations between young statistical groups.

Reviewed by the organisers, Francesca Ieva and Antonio Canale.