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REVIEW: Research Funding Workshop – RSS Conference 2017

Successful funding applicants and experienced members of funding committee shared their tips and secrets during this Professional Development session, organised by the Young Statistician’s Section. Presenter slides for the session can be found by clicking the links below.

RFW

The session began with Dr Alison Ramage, a successful fellowship applicant and Research Director in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Strathclyde, speaking about tips for choosing the right funder, writing grant proposals and what reviewers are looking for.

Some tips on writing grant proposals – Alison Ramage

The session continued with Professor Jim Norman, senior group leader at the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute and CRUK Pioneer Award Funding committee member, speaking about the Pioneer Award, a high risk funding scheme which also brings high reward. Further information can be found on the Cancer Research website.

Cancer Research UK Pioneer Award – Jim Norman

The final speaker of the session was Dr Jim Lewsley, University of Glasgow and member of the Health Improvement, Protection and Services Research Committee at the Chief Scientist Office. Jim reflected upon research funding application processes and what committees are looking for in a good application, a good project and a good candidate.

Research funding – CSO HIPS perspective – Jim Lewsey

The session closed with a panel discussion where the three speakers shared further tips and secrets, with a reminder to not be discouraged if your research funding application is unsuccessful. Often luck is involved so try, try again!

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REVIEW: Young Statisticians Meeting, YSM, Keele University (27th – 28th July 2017)

The Young Statisticians Meeting (YSM) is an annual event specifically designed for, and organised by, career-young statisticians. This year the conference took place at Keele University, on the 27th and 28th of July, with a fantastic programme of keynote speakers, delegate presentations, a poster session, and an evening social.

The two-day conference offers a fantastic opportunity for early-career statisticians and students to present their research in a friendly environment, network amongst peers, and discover the diverse range of areas that statistics may be applied to.

The plenary sessions provided insights into the fields of sports analytics (Prof Ian McHale), data visualisation (Prof Julius Sim), official statistics (Dr Gary Brown), and data science (Dr Aimee Gott). A wide range of delegate talks covered a variety of applications including clinical trial, genetics, meta-analysis, statistical theory, and public health.

The highlight of the conference was the conference dinner and ceilidh at the picturesque Keele Hall, a brilliant ice-breaker!

The conference closed with the awarding of the RSS sponsored prizes for best presentations and poster. Congratulations once again to Usama Ali, Katie O’Farrell, Kathryn Leeming, and Abigail Higgins.

 

REVIEW: Survival Analysis for Junior Researchers Conference, Leicester (5th – 6th April 2017)

SAFJR

On the 5th – 6th April 2017, the University of Leicester hosted the sixth annual Survival Analysis for Junior Researchers conference.  The two-day conference, which originated in Leicester, was aimed at early career researchers with an interest in analysis of time-to-event data, and related topics such as multi-state models.

The conference programme included invited talks from keynote speakers Dr Nick Latimer (University of Sheffield), Dr Therese Andersson (Karolinska Institutet) and Prof Per Kragh Andersen (University of Copenhagen), as well as a contributed talks and a poster session.  The attendees’ talks covered a wide range of topics including multi state modelling, flexible parametric modelling and computational methods.  During the conference, participants were also treated to a conference dinner and evening social at the renowned Chutney Ivy Restaurant and Bar.   The conference concluded with a talk from a committee member of the Young Statisticians Section (YSS), and a career development talk delivered by Dr Laura Gray.

The conference was interesting and engaging, and was a perfect event for career young statisticians to present their research and network with a group of like-minded career young researchers in their field of work.

Next years meeting will be held on 24 – 26 April 2018 in Leiden, the Netherlands, further information can be found at SAfJR2018.com

REVIEW: Predictions within Sport: a joint meeting of the RSS Merseyside Group and Young Statisticians Section and live broadcast

On 11th October 2017, the RSS Merseyside local group and the RSS Young Statisticians Section hosted a meeting on ‘Predictions within Sport’ which was also streamed live online. There were 25 people in attendance in Liverpool and an additional ten listeners online.

The meeting began with a talk by Kevin Brosnan of the University of Limerick and the Young Statistician’s Section entitled “False start disqualification in elite athletics: Are the rules fairs?” Kevin explored the response times of elite athletes in both men’s and women’s races at European and World Championships. Kevin considered a variety of different races including 100m, 200m and 100m hurdles and the indoor races 60m and 60m hurdles. Kevin discussed differences in response times (how quickly an athlete responds after hearing the starters gun), and false start statistics between male and female athletes, before investigating whether the current IAAF rules for detecting false starts are fair, or in fact too lenient.

KB

Kevin also demonstrated how the number of false starts and the athlete response times have changes in line with changes in the disqualification rules over the past 20 years designed to improve viewer experience of athletics. Kevin concluded by pointing out a case in the 2016 Olympics where athletes had surprisingly quick response times. Did they pre-empt the gun?

Following a coffee break, Dr Sean Williams from the University of Bath spoke on “Tackling safety issues in professional rugby union: Can we reduce the risk of injury?” Sean described his role in analysing injury trends in professional rugby, in an incredibly timely talk given the BBC article of the same day “A love affair that hurts- the story of rugby’s injury crisis”. The article is available here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/41544641.

SW

Sean described some of his groups’ work on an acute-chronic workload ratio, which is a tool designed to assess how a player’s recent training and match schedules influence their risk of injury. This is a tool that is potentially useful to coaches in preventing injury and managing training routines. Finally Sean described some recent work aimed at improving safety in the scrum, which had led to World Rugby changing their laws, and also a training routine in amateur rugby that had been shown to reduce the number of injuries experienced.

Both talks were entertaining and enlightening and provoked lively discussion, both in the room and from our online listeners.

Review by David Hughes (RSS Merseyside)

REVIEW – Survival Analysis for Junior Researchers Conference in Leeds (13-14 Apr 2016)

SAFJR

The 5th Survival Analysis for Junior Researchers Conference took place in Leeds on 13-14 April 2016 with support from the Royal Statistical Society, and attracted over 40 delegates. The two-day event featured two keynote addresses on sequential analysis of clinical trials data (Prof Walter Gregory, LICTR), and how big-data and linkage creates challenges and opportunities for survival analysis (Dr Matthew Sperrin, University of Manchester). There were also a range of sessions in which delegates from across the UK and Ireland presented and discussed their research findings, with themes including flexible modelling, emerging methodology, subsequent therapy, and applications in practice. The RSS Young Statisticians’ Section were also in attendance, and provided an overview of the RSS and the benefits of being a member.

Next year’s meeting will be held at the University of Leicester.

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.

votf_timpeake

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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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REVIEW – YSS “Statistically Significant Careers” event at Queen’s University Belfast on 4 Nov 2015

Statistically Significant Careers

Centre for Statistical Science & Operational Research, Queen’s University Belfast

Reviewed by Caoimhe Carbery.

On 4th November 2015, the YSS collaborated with the RSS NI local group to host the second annual Statistically Significant Careers event which continues to be a huge success. Companies from throughout the UK and Ireland came together to showcase the vast range of careers available to the career young statisticians who were in attendance.

The event, which was held in The Great Hall at Queen’s University Belfast, was generously sponsored by the School of Mathematics and Physics alongside the RSS NI local group. The format of the event differed from the previous year, whereby the main body of the day consisted of presentations from the various companies and ended on a networking and drinks reception whereby the companies had an assigned space for posters and leaflets – this allowed the 60 delegates to network with potential future employers on a more informal level.

The event was opened by Dr Lisa McCrink, lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast and Meetings Secretary of the YSS, welcoming those in attendance. Lisa spoke about the different events and initiatives run by the YSS throughout the year, encouraging students to take advantage and sign up as a free e-Student member of the RSS, a brilliant opportunity for career young statisticians.

The company representatives then began, with the audience treated to talks from eleven companies based throughout the UK and Ireland, all of whom demonstrate a keen interest in the applications of statistical techniques within their respective industries. The companies included Pramerica, GlaxoSmithKline, Seagate, Kainos, Analytics Engines, Allstate, Ulster Bank, NISRA, Accenture and Quintiles. Each company delivered an inspirational and insightful 10 minute talk, with time afterwards for questions from the audience. With the multitude of companies providing talks from different application areas of statistics, the audience had the opportunity to gain valuable advice and perspectives in relation to future careers. Both the coffee break and the networking session at the closing of the event allowed the discussions to continue – which was a great chance for the attendees to meet fellow career-young statisticians.

A huge thanks to our sponsors and all the companies who helped make the event a success! The event has received positive feedback from both the students in attendance and the companies. As the event continues to be a success, the organising committee are excited for the next Statistically Significant Careers event which will occur in a year’s time in October 2016. If you would like to get involved or to hear more about the event, please get in touch by emailing Lisa McCrink (l.mccrink@qub.ac.uk).