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Monthly Archives: March 2016

ANNOUNCEMENT – STEM Showcase session at the RSS 2016 conference in Manchester (8 September 2016)

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On the afternoon on Thursday 8 September, the YSS will be running a special “STEM Showcase” session at the RSS 2016 conference (which takes place in Manchester from 5-8 September – see www.rss.org.uk/conference for further details).

The STEM Showcase event will feature five 12-minute presentations that showcase best practice and innovation in school statistical STEM activities, followed by 15 minutes of Q&A and further discussion. Following the session, we will share and promote these activity materials (with full attribution to the authors) across the young statistician / STEM ambassador community, to maximise the impact of the activities.

We’re now assembling the line-up for the session – so if you are an early-career statistician (first 10 years of career) and/or a STEM Ambassador and would like to share examples of effective and engaging statistical activities that you have developed for young people, we would love to hear from you!

If you’re interested in contributing to the session, please drop an email to the address shown below by 30 April 2016, giving details of what you’d like to speak about:

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All selected speakers will be eligible for a conference registration waiver for the day of the session, as a thank you for being involved.

Please note: As the number of speaker slots is limited, we may receive more expressions of interest than can be accommodated in the session. In this instance, the slots will be allocated on a competitive basis to ensure we have the most varied and engaging combination of talks possible.

We look forward to hearing from you soon!

ANNOUNCEMENT – YSS Bulletin #3 released!

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Events… Opportunities… Support… Networking…

We’ve just released Issue #3 of the YSS Bulletin – a quick two-minute summary of what the Young Statisticians Section are currently doing! (Full URL: https://statsyss.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/yssbulletin-march2016-finalversion.pdf)

For example, did you know that our 2016 Young Statisticians Writing Competition – organised jointly with Significance magazine – has now gone live? Or that we’ll be running eight different events this autumn at the 2016 RSS Conference in Manchester, including a special STEM Showcase (click to find out how you can get involved), a brand-new “Tech Giants” session, and the now-infamous YSS pub quiz?

Check out the Bulletin to find out more!

REVIEW – Careers in Statistics Fair at the University of Manchester on 2 Mar 2016

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Reviewed by Maria Sudell.

On the 2nd March 2016, the School of Mathematics at the University of Manchester held their 2016 Careers in Statistics Fair, supported by the RSS Manchester Local group – with around 40 individuals attending (http://www.maths.manchester.ac.uk/study/careers/maths-careers-events/careers-in-statistics-fair-2016.htm). The event was designed for individuals who were considering, or were at the start of, a statistical career, and included stalls from the RSS (manned by YSS committee members and Richard Emsley of the Manchester Local group), and from employers such as HMRC, Lubrizol, AWE, Ernst and Young and AstraZeneca. The day featured talks from these providers and from the RSS, and also a talk about Medical Statistics in the public sector or academia. The stalls and talks gave young individuals interested in a statistical career the opportunity to hear about the types of jobs available in the area, and also the chance to ask a wide range of people questions about their jobs, and what could help them move into similar careers in future.

REVIEW – “Voice of the Future” at Parliament on 1 Mar 2016

New YSS committee members Janette McQuillan and Maria Sudell report back from the 2016 Voice of the Future event, held at Parliament on Tuesday 1 March.

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Janette - 2016   Janette McQuillan

“The Voice of the Future event provided an excellent opportunity to sit at the Committee ‘horseshoe’ table at Parliament and ask the Government Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir Mark Walport and MPs sitting on the Science and Technology Committee questions about science policy and their key priorities for the years ahead.”

I asked the Committee a question about the progress that has been made with making government datasets publicly available for analysis and how data-driven initiatives can help inform decision making processes in government. In response to my question, Chair of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, Nicola Blackwood MP discussed the recently published Big Data report and specifically highlighted some of the key issues raised by the report that really need to be addressed – the variability inherent in data quality, the provision of an auditing framework and the necessity for the availability of data in real-time.

There was quite a discussion around the likely impact of the UK leaving the European Union on the scientific research community. The general consensus among committee members was that EU membership  was in the science community’s best interest because we receive substantial funding for our research from the EU and benefit greatly from international collaborations.

There were many questions relating to the obesity problem in the UK and the introduction of a sugar tax as a potential solution. Yvonne Fovargue MP, Shadow minister for BIS suggested that as a society we need better education about the sugar content of foods and we need to address the fact that the cost of healthy eating is significantly higher. She believes that we need to subsidise the cost of healthy food and explore how unhealthy foods can be used to supplement that.

Another issue that was discussed at great length was the lack of female representation in high level science positions in both academia and industry. The Committee recognise the need for a cultural shift in attitude at the C level for any changes in this area to be realised. There needs to be greater encouragement for young girls to study mathematics and physics at A-level. We need strong female role models to show that it is possible for women to be highly successful in what is typically seen as a male dominated environment. We need greater job security to enable women to pursue a career in academia. In industry, there needs to be more flexibility in working hours given to women with families. Stella Creasy MP suggested that men have a key role to play in this and need to be more supportive in relation to the provision of child care. Women need to be more supportive and encouraging of each other. Stella strongly believes that we all have the power to make this change happen.

The highlight of the event for me was a parliamentary first, a video message broadcast from 400km above the earth from Major Tim Peake (pictured below). It was fascinating to hear about the life science experiments he is conducting to investigate the effects of gravity on ageing and the potential impact this could have on those suffering with asthma.

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MariaSudell3   Maria Sudell

“I was excited to attend the Voice of the Future 2016 event and to find out how policy for science was perceived at parliament. It was encouraging to see a wide range of scientific societies represented at this event, along with students from two high schools who also submitted questions to the panel. I hope that this event will continue to be run in the future, as a valuable link between parliament and those working in scientific careers.”

The Voice of the Future 2016 event was a great opportunity to discover and discuss the issues important to individuals working in STEM areas. We heard questions answered by the Government Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Mark Walport, the select Committee on Science and Technology, the Minister for Universities and Science Jo Jackson MP, the Shadow Minister for Science Yvonne Forvargue MP and even a video message from Tim Peake at the International Space Station. Questions were submitted by a range of institutions and societies, including the Council for Mathematical Sciences (the CMS, comprising the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA), the London Mathematical Society (LMS) and the Royal Statistical Society (RSS)). Questions submitted by the CMS covered areas such as making government datasets publicly available and possible initiatives to encourage school leavers to take up a career in mathematical sciences.  Several initiatives to engage students in sciences were discussed including STEM ambassadors, and the need for individuals and companies working in relevant areas to come into schools to give talks about future career paths. I was excited to attend this event and to find out how policy for science was perceived at parliament. It was encouraging to see a wide range of societies from areas as far reaching as Microbiology and Astronomy represented at this event, along with students from two high schools who also submitted questions to the panel.

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