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REVIEW: DeMO 18th April

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”.


Young Statisticians Writing Webinar (3pm, 28th March)

Writing Webinar

Young Statisticians Writing Webinar for the Statistical Excellence Award for Early Career Writing competition with Significance Magazine.


The webinar will provide invaluable advice and motivation to those interested in the 2018 Writing Competition for Early-Career Statisticians, and for those who wish to make their statistical writing more accessible.

The YSS and Significance are hosting this free one-hour webinar at 3pm on Wednesday 28 March covering everything you need to know to start writing. Three fantastic presenters will be sharing their experience and advice, and you will have the chance to ask them any burning questions you have relating to the competition, or any more general queries you have on making your statistical writing jump off the page.

Our speakers are:

Brian Tarran, Editor of Significance Magazine.

Jonathan Auerbach and Sam Tyner, previous finalists of the competition.

Joining in is easy! 

Either join through the Skype Meeting (you may need to install the app first) or dial in using the details below:

Phone number: +44 203 321 5256

Access Code: 16 507 182

Conference ID: 16 507 182

We hope you will be able to join us!

RSS Computational Statistics and Machine Learning Launch

The launch for the new RSS section for Machine Learning and Computational Statistics was held on the 25th of January 2018.  The launch event consisted of a series of talks giving introductions to machine learning, work into methodological issues, and examples of applications to real world issues.

The launch started with a talk from Sylvia Richardson of the MRC Biostatistics Unit, Cambridge.  She gave a talk covering work on data compression with statistical guarantees, specifically methods to conduct multivariate regression and model exploration in datasets that can contain upwards of 500000 individuals.

The second talk was given by Zoubin Ghahramani of the University of Cambridge and Uber AI labs.  He gave a clear introduction to the areas of machine learning and computational statistics, including explanations of various key terms.  His talk focussed on the area of deep learning.

The launch continued with a talk from Julien Cornebise of Element AI, who described ongoing work using machine learning to assemble evidence of destruction of villages in Sudan through examination of satellite photographs of the area.

The final talk was delivered by Yee Whye Teh of the University of Oxford and Deepmind.  He described the benefit of using Bayesian approaches, such as utilising prior information, for complex networks of data (such as where there is a large amount of data, but relatively little data for each individual in the analysis).

The launch concluded with a networking session, which allowed researchers with a background or interest in the area to connect.

Catch-up with the YSS Bulletin!


Committee… Competitions… Volunteering… Events…

We’ve just released Issue #6 of the YSS Bulletin – our short summary of what the Young Statisticians Section are planning and promoting!

For example, did you know that the 2018 Young Statisticians Writing Competition – organised jointly with Significance magazine – has now gone live?

Or that you could have the opportunity to teach in Africa with the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences?

Check out the Bulletin to find out more!