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Review: Survival Analysis for Junior Researchers 2019

Attendees at SAfJR 2019

Copenhagen, April 24th – 26th, 2019

The University of Copenhagen was proud to host the second annual Survival Analysis for Junior Researchers (SafJR) conference outside the UK. This was the 8th annual SAfJR conference. It was a three-day event that was aimed at career-young statisticians with an interest in the application and development of time-to-event analysis and related topics. The conference provided a unique opportunity for participants to present and discuss their work with peers at a similar stage in their careers in a relaxed and friendly environment. The event included a short course on Recurrent Event Analysis by Per Kragh Andersen (University of Copenhagen), talks from keynote speakers Nadine Binder (University of Freiburg), Thomas Alexander Gerds (University of Copenhagen) and Christian Torp-Pedersen (Aalborg University), as well as contributed talks, a poster session and an informal and a formal conference dinner. Detailed information on the program can be found on the website:

We, the SAfJR 2019 organising team, greatly enjoyed the conference, which took place during beautiful weather in the heart of Copenhagen at the Royal Library. Both keynote and contributed sessions were very inspiring and of impressive quality, especially taking into account that for many speakers this was their first conference. In particular we would like to congratulate the oral presentation award winner Sven Erik Ojavee and the poster presentation award winner Natasha A. Sahr with their excellent contributions.

We are looking forward to next year’s SAfJR conference, which will take place from April 1-3 in Ulm. See their website for more information:

Paul, Mia, Kathrine and Corine

Review: The Voice of the Future 2019

By Sritika Chowdhury

The Voice of the Future (VOF), organised by the Royal Society of Biology, is a unique event that offers students and young scientists the chance to put forward their questions on scientific policies and issues to key political figures in the UK. YSS Committee member Sritika Chowdhury represented the Royal Statistical Society at this year’s event held on 12th March 2019, at the Houses of Parliament.

On a very busy day for the UK Parliament, representatives from various societies and high schools were given the opportunity to question members of the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee. This included, Norman Lamb, Vicky Ford, Stephen Metcalfe and Carol Monaghan (the Government Chief Scientific Adviser), Sir Patrick Vallance(Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation), Chris Skidmore, Chi Onwurah a(Shadow Minister for Industrial Strategy, Science and Innovation).

The event was opened by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt Hon John Bercow MP, who spoke enthusiastically about the importance of science in our lives and encouraged the uptake of science, mathematics and engineering subjects by young students.

The questions posed were diverse, ranging from the impact of Brexit on UK’s role in various EU funded science and policy programmes, to the actions taken by school children to safeguard their future on climate change. Vicky Ford spoke about encouraging young girls in school to pursue careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) to promote more jobs, happier and better quality of lives. Chi Onwurah also emphasised the need for additional funding to ensure there are suitable pathways into STEM that do not require STEM degrees. The Select Committee emphasised the importance of collectively tackling issues such as climate change, the need to increase investment in research and development to 2.5% of GDP, and the impact of Brexit on future research.

I asked the Committee a question about the impact of big data and machine learning techniques on our daily lives and the need for appropriate regulation. Sir Patrick Vallance acknowledged the need to test, pilot and regulate such techniques through working groups set up for regulation of innovation.

Overall, it was an interesting and inspiring event that showcased the extent to which politicians value science and their commitment towards young scientists. The whole session was an eye-opening experience, and one I would highly recommend to anyone interested in science, society and policy.   

A full audio of this year’s Voice of the Future event is available on Parliament TV Live.

Review: Writing Competition Webinar

On Wednesday 10th April, the YSS and Significance Magazine hosted a webinar for this years Statistical Excellence Award for Early Career Writing Competition.

The webinar, aimed at career-young statisticians planning to enter the competition, featured presentations from:

Brian Tarran (Significance) – The why, the what and the how

Letisha Smith (New York University) – Tips for Statistical Writing

The Statistical Excellence Award for Early Career Writing Competition is open until 27 May 2019.

Review: Women in Statistics and Data Science: Past, Present, & Future

By Altea Lorenzo-Arribas (YSS), Cecilia Lanata-Briones (RSS History Section) & Lucy Teece (YSS), organisers of the event.

Video recording of the Women in Statistics event at the Royal Statistical Society.

On the 8th March we gathered at the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) in London to celebrate International Women’s Day and specifically Women in Statistics and Data Science by highlighting progress through the history of the discipline.

“Past of Stats & Data Science” speaker: Dr Linda Wijlaars

Dr Linda Wijlaars (University College London) started the talks by focusing on the Past of Statistics and introducing the fascinating life of Dr Janet Elizabeth Lane-Claypon. Lane-Claypon was a pioneer in epidemiology who conducted the first major retrospective cohort study, which included a description of confounding, and the first use of the t-test outside of the Guinness factory.

“Present of Stats & Data Science” speaker: Prof Deborah Ashby

RSS President, Professor Deborah Ashby (Imperial College London), examined the Present situation of women in statistics and data science. She focused on the current representation of women fellows, award winners and presidents in the RSS and other organisations worldwide. She also highlighted the achievements of many influential women working in the field of statistics and data science, and inspired the audience with stories of the women that have supported her through her career.

“Future of Stats & Data Science” panel: Maria Skoularidou, Fatima Batool, Dr Susan Lovick & Dr Lauren Rodgers.

The last session looked at the Future of the profession with the help of a great panel of four women working in statistics and data science both in industry and academia. Dr Susan Lovick (Phastar) described her own experience as a woman in statistics and the great supportive environment she has found at Phastar. Dr Lauren Rodgers (University of Exeter) described the great support, events and grants offered by the Women in Mathematics Committee of the London Mathematical Society to encourage diversity and inclusivity in the field. Fatima Batool (University College London) concentrated on her role as ambassador of the Women in Data Science programme, emphasising the depth of data science and the evergrowing diversity in the field. The last speaker of this session, Maria Skoularidou (University of Cambridge) introduced the RSS’s newly formed Women in Data Science and Statistics Special Interest Group .

The talks were followed by a wine reception sponsored by Phastar that encouraged great networking.

You can find the slides from the event below:

Finally, for an overview of the fascinating Twitter discussion generated around this event check out the following link:

Professor Deborah Ashby said she had “never seen so many women in the RSS HQ” and now we can’t wait to meet even more of you next year!

Review: PSI Medical Statistics Careers Event

20th February 2019, The Venue @ DeMontfort University, Leicester, review by Sarah Nevitt (RSS Medical Section and YSS)

Ready and prepared with a badge for everyone, the Royal Statistical Society was represented at the annual PSI Medical Statistics Careers event by Sarah Nevitt (RSS Medical Section and Young Statistician’s Section) and Lucy Teece (Young Statistician’s Section).

Over 120 students from Mathematics and Statistics affiliated degree courses, attended a special afternoon showcasing career opportunities within Medical Statistics.

The event was organised by the Careers and Academic Liaison Committee of Statisticians in the Pharmaceutical Industry (PSI CALC) and 29 exhibitors attended from a range of pharmaceutical companies, clinical research organisations (CRO), clinical trials units, universities, regulatory agencies and professional societies.

Throughout the day, attendees learned all about the roles of medical statisticians across a diverse range of organisations from a panel of pharmaceutical, CRO and academic representatives, including a familiar face in an RSS t-shirt! My fellow panellists and I shared the best and most challenging parts of our roles, most nerve wracking moments, proudest achievements, our most interesting work travel experiences, most unusual project as well as our key advice for students starting off in their medical statistics career. Students also gained from the first hand experience of a new-starter in the field of medical statistics and received invaluable advice on job searching, applications and interviews.

The visitors to the Royal Statistical Society exhibitor stand were interested to hear the benefits of e-student or student fellow membership of the RSS, as well as the work of the YSS and of the Medical Section. In fact, many visitors were already RSS members, had attended previous RSS events or were students of GradStat accredited courses!

We wish all of the attendees well within their degree courses and their future careers and we look forward to welcoming many more new starters into the world of Medical Statistics.

Review: Parliamentary Links Day 2018

review by Shikta Das (YSS) Imperial_profile_pic

Shikta Das attended Parliamentary Links Day on behalf of the Young Statistician Section (YSS).

I was honoured to attend the majestic location of Parliament for the Links Day on 26th of June, 2018. Royal Statistical Society (RSS) Executive Director, Hetan Shah, invited me to be a part of it and it was a huge privilege to be among the representatives of learned scientists and leaders of industry. The 30th Parliamentary Link Day was organised by the Royal Society of Biology and it welcomed Members of Parliament and leaders of the scientific community to discuss the theme of “Science and the Industrial Strategy”.


The day offered engaging sessions led by distinguished speakers and it was well represented by panellists from all areas of science and technology. Esteemed parliamentarian Stephen Metcalfe MP introduced the attendees to the excellent speakers, including Rt Hon John Bercow MP (Speaker of the House of Commons), R Hon Norman Lamb MP (Chair, House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology), Chi Onwurah MP (Shadow Minister of Industrial Strategy), Rt Hon Claire Perry MP (Minster of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Dr Patrick Vallance (Government Chief Scientific Advisor) and Rebecca Endean (UK Research and Innovation). The speakers talked about the importance of Science in UK’s economy and industrial strategy and the continuing need to retain the best academics in the UK. Chi Onwurah MP highlighted the important issue of government funding for science and UK’s access to talent in a Post Brexit world.


The Panel discussions were chaired by BBC’s Science Correspondent Pallav Ghosh. The panel featured, Prof Jonathan Flint (Institute of Physics), Prof John McGagh (Institute of Chemical Engineers), Prof Carol Monaghan MP (House of commons select committee on Science and Technology), Prof Dame Carol Robinson (Royal Society of Chemistry), Hetan Shah (Royal Statistical Society), Dr Louise Leong (Royal Society of Biology), Prof Peter Bruce (The Royal Society), Prof Iain Gray (The Royal Society of Edinburgh), Dr Sarah Main (Campaign for Science and Engineering) and Dr Hayaatun Sillem (Royal Academy of Engineering).


The first panel discussion was about diversity in science and UK’s access to bright people. Prof Flint, talked about access to bright people. He suggested that, among other things, UK’s industrial strategy should aim to make it the best place for innovation. Prof Robinson talked about the challenges in respect of diversity, especially for women and academics and scientists from an ethnic minority background. She also talked about training more technical staff. John talked about the immense opportunities offered by Artificial Intelligence and how it can dramatically change the way we observe science. Hetan Shah (RSS Executive Director) emphasized the need for encouraging participation and offering more opportunities to scientists from minority groups. He outlined some of RSS efforts in contributing towards the society, for example, the scheme to offer statistical volunteers for charities. He emphasized the need for a council for data ethics and developing more environmentally sustainable strategies.


The second panel discussion was on the role of the royal societies and how can they help in developing and delivering strategies.

The event was followed by a lunch at the House of Lords where there was further opportunity to meet and network with a range of leaders from the worlds of academics, scientists, civil service, politics and industry.


Overall, the Link Day was a great opportunity for young scientists like me to meet and hear from so many distinguished speakers and diverse set of attendees. It offered me a window to the world of policy making. As a scientist and a statistician, I was inspired to note that the work that we publish as part of our work is actually used to develop policies and strategies which affect everyone’s lives.


Young Researchers Using Statistics Symposium 2018

23rd May 2018, review by David McLernon & Altea Lorenzo-Arribas (YSS)

The YRS Symposium aims to encourage early career researchers who are interested in statistics to chat about their research and to hear inspiring talks from peers and external speakers. The long-term aim is to create a supportive community of practice. The event was held in the architecturally impressive Sir Duncan Rice Library, University of Aberdeen, and was organised by a committee of young statisticians from the RSS Highlands Local Group, University of Aberdeen, and Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland (BioSS).


Audience at YRS2018 (picture credits: Amaka Nwagbara, RSS)

YRS 2018 was a great success, selling out with over 60 participants from Scottish research institutions and universities based in the Highlands.

The first session of selected talks from early career researchers covered a range of health topics, from mental health to nutrition. The society session focused on economic modelling and the two talks in the environment session dealt with spatial models in fishery studies. A wide range of topics also featured at the poster session, including ecological occupancy models, juror systems probabilistic analysis and medical studies.


The symposium also included two fantastic keynote speakers; Jen Rogers, Director of Statistical Consultancy at the University of Oxford and RSS Vice President for External Affairs, and Liberty Vittert, Mitchell lecturer at the University of Glasgow.  Jen gave an interactive overview of risk misconceptions and stats misuse in media and advertising.  Liberty grabbed the audience with thought-provoking examples (including humanitarian aid work at the UN Refugee agency) highlighting the importance of making data relevant to people. During lunch there was an opportunity to network through a speed dating exercise.

The variety and high quality of the research showcased at the symposium made it extremely difficult for the jury to choose the recipients of the two prizes; Charlotte Huggins (University of Aberdeen) won the best presentation award (£50 Amazon voucher) for her talk, “Assessing the ability to understand one’s own emotional state”, and Tiberiu Pana (University of Aberdeen) won the poster award (£20) with a depiction of his research on “Impact of heart failure on stroke mortality and recurrence”.  Additionally, best tweet of the day was awarded to Alessandra Jibbs (University of Aberdeen) for an entertaining GIF of our YRS mascot, Norma the Normal!




Professor David Elston, ex-director of BioSS closed what he defined as an “inspirational event that has brought together the best of the RSS, the Highlands Local Group and the YSS in terms of interaction between different stats applications, visibility of young researchers and networking”.  He also gifted us with a quote to remember: “there are three ways of reaching decisions: tradition, prejudice and statistical analysis (of the right data set)”. We would agree that the symposium included a remarkable collection of work aiming for the latter.



YRS2018 in numbers



A ‘wakelet’ highlighting the presence of the YRS symposium on Twitter can be found on:

The analytics of the event tweets can be seen below:


Acknowledgments: We would like to thank the YRS committee, the YSS, and the RSS for their continuous support and promotion of this event.