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YSS Bulletin: RSS 2018 Conference Special


Professional Development… Volunteering… Prize Winners… Events…

We’ve just released our Royal Statistical Society 2018 Conference Special Bulletin – a quick guide to the sessions the Young Statisticians Section will be running at this years’  RSS Annual Conference in Cardiff this September!

Each year the YSS aims to squeeze as many career development sessions, prize-winner presentations, and networking opportunities into the RSS Conference as we can, and this year is no exception!

Why not join us, show your support, and help us celebrate the achievements of other young statisticians at one of our many prize winner sessions.

Or find out how you can get involved in our volunteering sessions; which highlight  opportunities within the UK and abroad, and demonstrate activities that have been developed for use in schools and science fairs.

And of course, come and meet the team and network with your peers at our pub quiz and networking lunch reception!

Check out the Bulletin to find out more!

Submissions are open for Poster presentations until 30th June.


Manchester Careers Fair

Review by Maria Sudell (YSS)

On the 14th March 2017, the School of Mathematics at the University of Manchester held their annual Careers in Statistics Fair (for more information click on View Details at ).

Around 40 undergraduate and postgraduate students of maths and statistics were in attendance and contributed stalls included the Royal Statistical Society (represented by Maria Sudell and Emily Granger of the YSS), the University of Manchester careers service, HM Revenue and Customs, Lubrizol corporation (a leader in speciality chemicals), and many others. The afternoon also featured inspiring talks from representatives of attending organisations regarding how statistics is used in their industries, current recruitment opportunities and the support that the RSS and the YSS will be able to provide to them throughout their future statistical activities.

REVIEW: DeMO 18th April

18th April 2018, review by Lucy Teece (YSS)
A YSS Discussion Meeting Overview (DeMO) based around the article “The statistical analysis of acoustic phonetic data: exploring differences between spoken Romance languages” was held at RSS Errol Street on 18th April 2018. The meeting consisted of two 30 minute talks intended to prepare the audience for the Discussion Meeting to follow, a video of the meeting is below.
Presentations included:
Dr Ben Powell (University of York): “Spectral Representations and their Properties”
Dr Davide Pigoli (King’s College London): “Introduction and Background to Discussion Paper”
Discussion meeting overviews (DeMOs) are arranged by the YSS to make the read papers at RSS Discussion Meetings more accessible to those unfamiliar with the topics discussed in the read papers (including career-young statisticians). 


REVIEW: Applied Statistics to Health & Medicine (YSM Prize Winners), 2nd May 2018

The “Applied Statistics to Health & Medicine (YSM Prize Winners)” event was jointly hosted by the Glasgow Local group and the Young Statisticians Section of the Royal Statistical Society and was a livestreamed event. The event consisted of Young Statisticians Meeting (YSM) prize winners Emily Granger (University of Manchester) and Kathryn Leeming (University of Bristol) presenting about their PhD statistical research in health and medical contexts. The event was chaired by Johnathan Love and had approximately 30 in person attendees at the University of Glasgow and 16 attendees that joined via livestream.

Emily Granger (YSM Prize Winner, 2016) presented her research on propensity score diagnostics and the challenges we face when ascertaining if a propensity-based estimate is unbiased. In a health context and when dealing with observational patient data, these scores (defined as a patient’s probability of receiving treatment conditional on their baseline characteristics) are becoming an increasingly popular method used to account for confounders. However, Emily highlighted that there is some debate on the reliability of these scores, particularly the balancing of these scores across covariate distributions. Emily outlined why some of the balance diagnostics could possibly mislead users of propensity scores: results from a simulation study indicated commonly used diagnostics, e.g. standardised differences, can be unreliable. Emily also discussed her future plans on developing new propensity score diagnostics, such as cumulative prevalence.

In the second part of the session, Kathryn Leeming (YSM Prize Winner 2017), presented her research on network time series, which are data collected over time at nodes of a graph/network and occur in a wide variety of areas including environmental, financial and indeed medical. Kathryn presented results of analyses, which involved the Network Autoregressive (NAR) framework, using England-based Mumps disease incidence data. Kathryn also highlighted features of the NAR model and demonstrated how to recover an un-weighted graph from a multivariate time series using the NAR model. Kathryn also highlighted the advantages of using network-based methods for analysing such medical data and compared the performance of these methods to those which do not involve utilising network structures.

Overall, this was an engaging session on modern statistical methods applicable to the fields of health and medicine.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Young Researchers using Statistics Symposium


The Young Statisticians of The RSS Highland Local Group are holding the second biennial ‘Young Researchers using Statistics’ (YRS) symposium on Wednesday 23rd May at the Sir Duncan Rice Library, Aberdeen.

We have two amazing plenary speakers confirmed – Dr Jen Rogers, Director of Statistical Consultancy Services, University of Oxford, who will be talking about risk communication, and Dr Liberty Vittert, Mitchell Lecturer, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Glasgow, who will present her work on facial shape analysis.

Come and hear ten early career researchers from a diverse range of disciplines present their work to a friendly audience.

Registration is only £5! Click here to register.

If you have any queries please contact the YRS committee by emailing

WEBINAR: Statistical Excellence Award for Early Career Writing competition

The YSS and Significance Magazine hosted a webinar for early-career statisticians thinking of entering the RSS Statistical Excellence Award for Early Career Writing competition. A video of the webinar is below:


Hosted by Katie Fisher from YSS, and featuring presentations from:

Brian Tarran (Significance) – Overview of the writing competition, including guidance on the competition process, how to get started and what the judges will be looking for

Brian Tarran has been editor of Significance since June 2014. He is a journalist by training, having previously worked for local newspapers in East London and later as launch editor of the Market Research Society’s award-winning Impact Magazine.

Robert Matthews (Significance) – Hints and tips on writing engaging statistical articles

Robert Matthews is an award-winning journalist, statistician and member of the Significance editorial board. After reading physics at the University of Oxford, he began a dual career in journalism and academia. His media career included 17 years at The Times and the Sunday Telegraph as a specialist correspondent and columnist, and freelance work for publication in the UK and abroad. He is currently a columnist for The Sunday Times Magazine and The National newspaper in the Emirates. On the academic front, he is Visiting Professor in the Department of Mathematics at Aston University, where his interests include probability and Bayesian inference. In 2016 he also published “Chancing It”, a popular-level book on probability and statistics.

Previous competition finalists, Jonathan Auerbach and Sam Tyner, providing insight into their competition experiences

Jonathan Auerbach is a PhD student in the Statistics Department at Columbia University. Previously he was a research associate at the Center for Urban Research in the City University of New York. His interests include urban politics, public policy, open data and statistical methodology. Jonathan won our 2014 writing competition for his article, “Does New York City really have as many rats as people?”.

Sam Tyner earned her PhD in Statistics from Iowa State University in December 2017. She is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate with the Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence at ISU, focusing on education, outreach, and computing. Her other research interests outside of forensics include statistical graphics and social network analysis & visualization. She is also the co-founder and co-organizer of the Ames chapter of R-Ladies. Sam was a finalist in our 2015 competition with her article, “The joy of clustering”.


Voice of the Future 2018

13th March 2018, review by Lucy Teece & Stephen Blaxand (YSS)

The Royal Society of Biology’s annual Voice of the Future event offers students and early-career scientists the opportunity to question key political figures about important scientific issues. YSS committee members, Lucy Teece and Stephen Blaxland, represented the Royal Statistical Society at this year’s event held in the Houses of Parliament during British Science Week.


Throughout the morning a multitude of questions, raised by representatives from a wide range of scientific societies, organisations, and local high schools, were answered by the newly-appointed Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation (Sam Gyimah MP), the Shadow Minister for Industrial Strategy, Science & Innovation (Chi Onwurah MP), members of the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee (Martin Whitfield MP, Stephen Metcalfe MP, and Carol Monaghan MP), and the director of the Government Office for Science (Dr Rupert Lewis).


Lucy Teece:

Diversity in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine) careers was a recurrent theme of the questions asked, and prompted discussions around the under-representation of Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) researchers; the gender pay gap and ‘leaky pipeline’ producing a gender imbalance in high-level positions; and barriers preventing those from communities of low socioeconomic status from pursuing careers in STEMM subjects. The political figures present acknowledged the strength in diversity and communicated their commitment to encourage equal representation across both academia and industry. Chi Onwurah MP, who has a degree in Electrical Engineering, described the need for strong female and minority role models and leaders to inspire and support those seeking STEMM careers. Balance in STEMM subjects requires enthusiastic role models to reach out to students and spark an interest in these subjects at an early age, and to promote the exciting and rewarding careers available to those who study STEMM subjects.

This unique event evidenced a commitment by parliament to seriously consider the challenges faced by the younger generation of scientists and displays a willingness by the politicians present at the event to build and maintain a constructive dialogue with career-young scientists.

Stephen Blaxland:

 Sitting in the Horseshoe next to John Bercow with his radiant tie was a surreal experience. He opened the event with a passionate speech about the importance of MPs to communicate with scientists and take data-driven decisions.

More than 500 questions were sent to the event organiser’s steering committee, 40 were chosen, the primary focus was on Brexit and the importance of diversity in the workforce. There were some more esoteric questions on developing legislation for biohacking (when someone ‘hacks’ their genetics), especially as altering genomes would influence not just the hacker but also their future generations.

For me, Chi Onwurah stole the show with thoughtful responses about distributed ledger systems and how the government could develop legislation to encourage new technologies to the improtance of increasing diversity. It was very impressive to see these politicians spending time to understand and answer a diverse set of  topics. At the end of the day I left feeling humbled that these MPs spent time to answer and collaborate with the scientific community. Let us hope that the UK will continue to push forward this important collaboration.



A full video of this years’ Voice of the Future event is available on Parliament TV Live.