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Statistically Significant Careers 2018

Written by Emma Brown

The annual Statistically Significant Careers event, organised by the Mathematical Sciences Research Centre at Queen’s University Belfast in conjunction with the RSS Northern Ireland Local Group, Young Statistician Section (YSS) and International Biometric Society BIR, took place on Wednesday 17th January 2018. We had a massive turnout of approximately 70 students, from mathematics, statistics, physics, and humanities, listening to 9 companies from a range of industries including data analytics, banking and biostatistics.

Each company presented for 10 minutes about the work their companies do and the importance of statistics in their companies. The presenters showcased their companies and highlighted how statisticians are essential in each major industry in the Twenty-first Century. The talks emphasised the benefits such as flexible working, input into research direction, analysis of novel and exciting problems such as delving deeper into data and uncovering complex relationships between biomarkers were a part of most demonstrations. Questions relating to entry requirements and internal opportunities were asked by final-year students at the end of the presentations.

A reception held after the talks allowed students to network with company representatives and ask further questions about initial training, day-to-day duties and continuing professional development. Both students and company representatives enjoyed these opportunities with many representatives discussing at length with groups of students. Many company representatives expressed their intent to attend the event again to continue their engagement with students and to increase interest in statistics.



PSI Medical Statistics Taster Day 2018

28th February 2018, University of Leicester, review by Sarah Nevitt (YSS)

As the ‘Beast from the East’ brought snow across the UK, over 100 students from Mathematics and Statistics affiliated degree courses headed to the University of Leicester for a ‘taster’ afternoon of careers in Medical Statistics.


The event was organised by the Careers and Academic Liaison Committee of Statisticians in the Pharmaceutical Industry (PSI CALC) and 25 exhibitors attended from a range of pharmaceutical companies, clinical research organisations (CRO), clinical trials units, universities and professional societies.

Throughout the day, attendees learned all about current trends in medical statistics and drug development and stepped into the shoes of a medical statistician or data programmer in an interactive training session.


Students also gained the first-hand experience of a new industry starter and heard from a panel of pharmaceutical, CRO and academic representatives on the best and most challenging parts of their roles, their most nerve wracking moment, their proudest achievements, their most interesting work travel experience and their most unusual project. Panellists also discussed diversity of careers in medical statistics with where their careers may be in 5 years’ time as well as key advice for students starting off in their medical statistics career.

The Royal Statistical Society was represented by Sarah Nevitt (Young Statistician’s Section) and Wendy Harrison (Medical Section). Students were interested to hear the benefits of e-student or student fellow membership of the RSS and many students were very excited to hear that their degree courses were GradStat accredited. This event was a brilliant opportunity to meet the aspiring statisticians of the future and we hope to see many of them again soon still wearing their ‘Eat, Sleep, Stats, Repeat’ badges!

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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.


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!


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)


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


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.


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:


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)


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.