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ANNOUNCEMENT – YSS Bulletin RSS Conference Special


Events… Opportunities… Support… Networking…

We’ve just released our RSS Conference Special Bulletin – a quick two-minute summary of the sessions that the Young Statisticians Section are running at the Royal Statistical Society 2017 Annual Conference in Glasgow!

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 and get some top tips on how to make the most out of Conference at our Guide to the Conference session.

Or show your support and help us celebrate the achievements of other young statisticians at one of our many prizewinners sessions.

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

Check out the Bulletin to find out more!

ANNOUNCEMENT – Review of the YSS Statistical Showcase 2017

The Statistical Showcase is a special event hosted by the YSS with the aim of showcasing the broad range of careers that are available to early-career statisticians. This year’s Statistical Showcase was held in London on Friday 30th June and, for the second year running, it included a morning training session in addition to the afternoon careers event. Due to building works at the RSS headquarters in Errol Street, the main body of the event was hosted elsewhere for the first time. We were lucky enough to secure a fantastic alternative venue at Shelter nearby and the event was a great success, with around 50 attendees in total (including speakers).

For the morning training session, Nic Crane from Mango Solutions delivered an introductory workshop on R Shiny – an R package that allows you to easily turn your analyses into interactive web apps. This was a great opportunity for attendees to get some hands on experience with using R Shiny and we’ve already had requests for more R application courses in future years!

After a delicious lunch, kindly sponsored by Roche, the afternoon careers event opened with the first plenary talk from Prof Jane Hutton, who provided some fascinating insights into life as a senior academic. This was followed by parallel speaker sessions covering a broad range of careers, including talks from Sony, Shell, Select Statistics, Full Fact, the Ministry of Defence, Roche, the Department for Transport, the NHS, University College London, Opta Sports/Perform Group and entrepreneur James Littlejohn. These were well received by attendees who gave very positive feedback on the variety of speakers and quality of the talks.

We then headed over to the RSS headquarters for the final plenary and wine reception. Prof David Hand gave us all food for thought with his engaging presentation on the biggest problem we all face in statistics – getting the question right! This was described by some as the highlight of the event, and David even made time to attend the wine reception before heading off to celebrate his birthday!!! The wine reception gave attendees the chance to chat to some of the speakers in a more informal setting, as well as to network with their peers. This was a fantastic close to a fun and interesting event that was enjoyed by attendees, speakers and organisers alike.



Daria Gromyko attended Parliamentary Links Day on behalf of the YSS.

This year I had the honour of being invited by Hetan Shah (Executive Director of the RSS) to the Parliamentary Links Day 2017 to represent the RSS as both a Young Statistician and an Official Statistics practitioner. This prestigious annual event is organised by the Royal Society of Biology and brings together the scientific community and Members of Parliament. The theme of this year’s event was “UK Science and Global Opportunities”.

Representatives from learned societies, academia and scientific professional bodies were welcomed to Parliament by Stephen Metcalfe MP and heard distinguished speakers including the Rt Hon John Bercrow MP (Speaker of the House of Commons), Sir John Kingman FRS (Chair Designate of UK Research & Innovation) and Jo Johnson MP (Minister for Universities and Science) talk about their vision for Science in the UK, the challenges we face and the way forward in addressing them. Themes touched upon were education and funding for scientific research, as well as the main theme of the day.

Two consecutive panel discussions chaired by BBC’s Science Correspondent Pallab Ghosh focused on “Science in Europe” and “Science in the World”, featuring views from Prof Sir John Holman (President of the Royal Society of Chemistry), Dr Sarah Main (Director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering), Professor Roberto Di Lauro and Dr Lorenzo Melchor (Science Attachés for the Embassies of Italy and Spain, respectively) and Chi Onwurah MP (Member of the House of Commons), as well as Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell FRS FRSE (President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh) and Malcolm Brinded CBE FREng (Chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation and Chair of EngineeringUK).

The first panel discussion focused on the continued uncertainty around the impacts of Brexit on scientific research in the UK, with the Science Attachés for the Embassies of Italy and Spain presenting discouraging statistics which suggested that large proportions of both Italian and Spanish nationals working in UK academia are considering relocating to elsewhere in the European Union; the discussion addressed ways that the UK can seek to retain such talent.

In the second panel discussion Dame Jocelyn called upon the scientific community to strengthen their links and extend their support to their European colleagues as much as this is currently done for international colleagues outside the EU. There is nothing preventing us from networking with our European colleagues and reinforcing the UK’s reputation as a welcoming and prestigious place to pursue a scientific career – a strong and eloquently delivered message that received a spontaneous round of applause from the packed room.

The event was followed by a lunch at the House of Lords, where Prof Alex Halliday FRS (Vice President of the Royal Society) gave a final keynote speech with allusions to Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

It was a pleasure to meet distinguished colleagues from across the scientific community in the heart of London. The day was an inspiration to us all to use our influence as scientists to encourage young inquisitive minds and pursue opportunities for scientific progress in the face of challenging circumstances.

ANNOUNCEMENT – The winner of our 2017 writing competition is…

Judging took place last month for our writing competition for early-career statisticians. It was the most competitive contest in years, with entrants from several African nations, Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Costa Rica, India, Mexico, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. We are delighted to announce our finalists and this year’s winner.

Kevin Lin, a fourth-year PhD student at Carnegie Mellon University, is the winner of the 2017 Statistical Excellence Award for Early-Career Writing. Kevin’s article, “We, the millennials: The statistical significance of political significance”, explores the subject of political engagement and analyses changes in “upvoting” behaviour on the social news aggregation site, Reddit.com, over the past decade.

Judges found Kevin’s article to be both timely and topical. In addressing the subject of political engagement, he touches on an issue that is very much top of mind, not only in the US, but in the UK and other parts of the democratic world. His article makes interesting use of Reddit data, while taking the time to acknowledge the assumptions he has made, and the limitations of the information he has available. The story is clearly told and written in a journalistic style that makes it an ideal fit for Significance and a worthy winner of this year’s contest. Congratulations to Kevin – his winning article, “We, the millennials”, will be published in the October 2017 issue of Significance.

Our two runners-up are:

  • Levon Demirdjian, a doctoral candidate at UCLA Statistics, for “When truth overshadows power”, which examines the controversy surrounding the film The Promise and analyses the polarised review scores it has received on the Internet Movie Database.
  • Charlotte Moragh Jones-Todd, a research assistant from New Zealand, for “A time to kill: Great British serial killers”, a statistical “true crime” story that looks at the occurrence of serial murders from the 1820s to the modern day in an attempt to discern a pattern.
Thank you to all those who entered this year’s competition, who helped to make it such a fun and interesting competition to judge. We look forward to seeing many new and returning names for next year’s competition, which will be announced in early 2018.

Further information on the writing competition can be found here.

ANNOUNCEMENT – YSS Bulletin #5 released!


Events… Opportunities… Support… Networking…

We’ve just released Issue #5 of the YSS Bulletin – a quick two-minute summary of what the Young Statisticians Section are currently doing!

The deadline for the 2017 Statistical Excellence Award for Early Career Writing  organised jointly with Significance magazine is fast approaching! There’s still time to get your entry in by the 29th May. This year’s Statistical Showcase will take place on Friday 30th June with a morning training session provided on R/R Shiny.

Check out the Bulletin to find out more.


ANNOUNCEMENT – Review of “Celebrating 20 Years of CRAN and R supporting statistics” – 25th April 2017

The “Celebrating 20 Years of CRAN and R supporting statistics” event was jointly hosted by the Glasgow Local group and the Young Statisticians Section of the Royal Statistical Society. The event consisted of speakers Dr. Charis Chanialidis, Dr. Mike Spencer and Dr. Colin Gillespie presenting and celebrating the history of CRAN and R software and the multitude of benefits and applications of this statistical tool. The event was co-hosted by Johnathan Love and Kate Pyper and had approximately 50 attendees that attended in person and approximately 50 attendees that joined in on the event, via livestream.

Dr. Charis Chanialidis of the University of Glasgow presented his thoughts about data visualisation and statistical modelling in Shiny, a package from RStudio that provides a web framework for building web applications (apps). In his talk, Dr. Chanialidis highlighted that this package is gaining in popularity and R users can turn statistical analyses into useful and interactive web applications and this was accompanied with a live demonstration using several Shiny apps. One significant point that was highlighted was the fact that Shiny apps can prove to be a useful tool for engaging with non-statisticians and/or the general public.

Afterwards, Dr. Mike Spencer of Scotland’s Rural College, presented his work on predicting snowmelt using R software. Dr. Spencer highlighted how snowmelt contributes to flood risk and gave a brief history of how some of the largest floods, such as the second largest recorded flood event on the River Thames after the winter of 1947, were attributable to snowmelt. In his talk, he demonstrated how he was able to utilise R to model the risks of snowmelt to reservoirs in Scotland, via extreme value analysis. Highlights that Dr. Spencer touched upon include being able to run R as a platform within other software (e.g. GRASS, GIS), and the production of spatial maps that one is able to produce using R software.

Finally, Dr. Colin Gillespie of Newcastle University and jumping rivers, presented a history and the development of CRAN and R software over the past 20 years. In his talk, Dr. Gillespie explained what CRAN is and the requirements involved in producing packages to be installed in R software. One of the main highlights from Dr. Gillespie was how the development of packages has grown tremendously over the past 20 years, such that the number of packages available to be installed in R/RStudio software has surpassed 10,000 as of the 24th April 2017.

Overall, this was a well turned out event by those who could attend in person to the University of Strathclyde and across the country, via livestream, and a rare celebration of CRAN and R software.

ANNOUNCEMENT – 40th Research Students’ Conference in Probability and Statistics held in Durham

The 40th research students’ conference (RSC) in probability and statistics took place from April 18th to April 21st 2017 in the Calman Learning Centre, Durham University.  The RSC is a large annual conference that is organised by PhD students for PhD students in any field relating to probability or statistics.  Being a student conference, the RSC provides delegates with a friendly and relaxed environment to discuss research and exchange ideas.

This year was the second time RSC has been in Durham (with the first time being back in 2007), and it was a triumphant success.  68 delegates attended the conference from a large number of universities across the UK and Ireland.  Almost every delegate gave a talk or poster presentation at the conference, with a wide range of topics covering many aspects of probability as well as both frequentist and Bayesian methods being covered, for example medical statistics, statistical modelling, non-parametric inference and stochastic processes to name but a few.  We had four distinguished guest speakers giving plenary talks: Professor Denise Lievesley (Principal of Green Templeton college, University of Oxford), Professor Nicholas Bingham (Imperial College, London), Professor Michael Goldstein (Durham University) and Dr. Peter Avery (Newcastle University).  These talks were very inspiring, covering both the speakers’ fascinating careers as wells fundamental research areas of probability and statistics.

In addition to the academic aspect of the conference, a number of social events were organised to bring the postgraduate community together to establish friendships and showcase the beauty of the historic city of Durham.  A combined posters and sponsors event allowed delegates to present their posters and sponsors, from both research and industrial backgrounds local and national without whom the conference would not have be possible, to advertise their companies.  Other events included a trip to the cathedral, a tour of Durham castle and a fun-filled mathematically themed quiz, with the whole week culminating in a conference dinner and ceilidh in the great hall of Durham castle – a truly magical experience that the delegates will be unlikely to forget!

RSC 2017 was a great success, with feedback from delegates being very positive and indicated their appreciation of such a smooth flowing, informative and fun conference.  RSC 2017 has hopefully left all those present with newly established research ideas and newly established friendships, along with fantastic memories.  Focus now already turns towards next year’s gathering in Sheffield which promises to be equally entertaining and informative.