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Are we sure that when an athlete is disqualified for a false start, in an Olympic 100 m event say, that they have actually false started? On Wednesday 29th March YSS committee member Kevin Brosnan gave a webinar discussing the false start rulings used in elite athletics and questioned if the existing rules are fair. The webinar was hosted by the Statistics in Sports section of the Royal Statistical Society, as part of their new webinar series which will see interesting interactions of sports and statistics.
The webinar focused on research which modelled existing response times of athletes to the starting gun with data from 1999 up to 2014. The research identified that false starts currently detected are indeed true false starts, however the outstanding issue is that some true false starts remain undetected under the current rules. Using statistical modelling we have proposed new false start time limits for male and female events, while also identifying an interesting and questionable result at last summer’s Rio Olympics.
To find out more a copy of the presentation can be found at http://www.rss.org.uk/Images/PDF/events/2017/RSS_Sports_Section_Webinar.pdf, while a recording of the presentation including the audio will be available on the RSS Youtube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/RoyalStatSoc) soon!
Voice of the Future is an annual event which offers young scientists the chance to raise and discuss important issues about science policies to key political figures. The event is held in Parliament each year as a part of British Science Week. This year YSS Committee members Johnathan Love and Lucy Teece attended the event as representatives of the Royal Statistical Society.
“The Voice of the Future was a unique opportunity to interact and ask Members of Parliament, Sir Mark Walport the Government Chief Scientific Adviser and the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee questions about the opportunities and challenges that Science in the UK faces in the foreseeable future .”
Coming from a mathematical and statistical background and being a STEM ambassador, one of the highlights for me was a question asked by a school pupil on the panel to Chi Onwurah MP, which focused on how can we, as a society, change young people’s negative attitudes towards maths and also convince people that numeracy is an essential skill to have. Chi’s response to this question highlighted that we should be giving “more and better rewards for teachers” and that the media can have a role to play in changing the country’s perception of Maths as a subject; though the responsibility of changing these attitudes and perceptions lies with our society and we should be doing more to promote the fact that Maths is a really “important, creative and beautiful subject.”
As can be expected, questions around leaving the European Union featured heavily, with a number of concerns raised about the effect of this change on research funding and collaboration with existing European colleagues. It was encouraging to hear Jo Johnson MP confirm a commitment from the Government to research and development as a “big priority” and that £4.7 billion is planned to be spent by 2021 on UK Research and Development, which is a 20% increase of what was planned to be originally spent on UK Research and Development.
A multitude of topics were discussed by Sir Mark Walport and the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee: ranging from genetic technologies, driverless cars, food security, artificial intelligence, commercial spaceflight, antimicrobial resistance and the influence of the arts, humanities and social sciences on scientific policy.
This unique event encourages young scientists from all over the UK to take part in political debate and shows that there is a real interest in government to engage with the scientific community.
“I was honoured to be asked to represent the Royal Statistical at this year’s Voice of the Future event. This excellent opportunity shows a willingness to build and maintain a constructive dialogue between parliament and the younger generation of scientists.”
Throughout the afternoon we heard questions from representatives from a wide range of scientific societies, organisations, and local high schools. There was a great deal of involvement from many of the UK’s greatest science organisations, such as the Royal Society, the British Pharmacological Society, and the Campaign for Science and Engineering. These questions were answered by Chi Onwurah MP (Shadow Minister for Industrial Strategy, Science and Innovation), Sir Mark Walport (Government Chief Scientific Adviser), Jo Johnson MP (Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation) and members of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee.
A full video of the Voice of the Future hearing is available on the parliamentlive.tv website.
Events… Opportunities… Support… Networking…
We’ve just released Issue #4 of the YSS Bulletin – a quick two-minute summary of what the Young Statisticians Section are currently doing!
For example, did you know that our 2017 Statistical Excellence Award for Early Career Writing – organised jointly with Significance magazine – has now gone live? Or that this year’s Statistical Showcase will take place on Friday 30th June?
Check out the Bulletin to find out more.
On the 1st March 2017, the School of Mathematics at the University of Manchester held their annual Careers in Statistics Fair (http://www.maths.manchester.ac.uk/study/careers/maths-careers-events/career-in-statistics-fair-2017.htm).
Around 30 undergraduate and postgraduate students of maths and statistics were in attendance and contributed stalls included the Royal Statistical Society (represented by Sarah Nevitt and Maria Sudell of the YSS and Professor Richard Emsley of the RSS Manchester Local Group), the University of Manchester (a representative of the Department of Biostatistics and from Postgraduate Student Service), HM Revenue and Customs (the UK’s tax, payments and custom’s authority) and the Lubrizol corporation (a leader in speciality chemicals). The afternoon also featured inspiring talks from representatives of each organisation in attendance regarding a wide range of statistical careers and the support that the RSS and the YSS will be able to provide to them throughout their future statistical activities.
The Young Statisticians Section (YSS) of the Royal Statistical Society are seeking enthusiastic individuals to join the YSS Committee for 2017.
The YSS exists to support and bring together statisticians in the first 10 years of their careers – including students. We run a number of events each year for young statisticians, including careers days, webinars, competitions (such as this year’s YSS/Significance Writing Competition) and a variety of sessions at the RSS Annual Conference, as well as supporting numerous other conferences and events in the statistical calendar. (For further details, please have a browse through some of the previous posts on this site!)
Being a member of the YSS Committee is a commitment but also very rewarding (and fun!) We are particularly looking for people who are keen to champion new ideas for reaching out the early-career statistics community, and to help organise events targeted at young statisticians. We hold three committee meetings per year, so most events and initiatives are organised remotely via email or phone conference.
If you would like to be considered for one of the committee positions, simply send an email (subject line “YSS Committee 2017”) to Tim at
by 6pm on Friday 23 September 2016, with a short blurb (up to 250 words) summarising your background and why you’d like to join the committee.
Please note that to take up a position you will need to be a full fellow of the RSS.
A final note: if you’re attending the RSS Conference in Manchester next week (5-8 September), and would like to find out more about the YSS, please do come up and have a chat with the current committee – just look for the red t-shirts!
The 39th Research Students’ Conference (RSC) in Probability and Statistics took place from June 14th to June 16th 2016 at the O’Brien Science Center, University College Dublin (UCD), Ireland. The RSC is a large annual conference that is organised by PhD students for PhD students in any field relating to probability and 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 first time that the RSC was hosted outside of the UK, and it was a huge success. Overall, there were 88 delegates in attendance, from a number of universities across Ireland, UK and Sweden. Almost every delegate gave a talk or a poster presentation, with the research topics spanning fields such as Biostatistics, Official Statistics, Mathematical Statistics, and Bayesian Statistics – to name just a few. This year, our two guest speakers were Prof. Uwe Ligges (Dortmund University, Germany) and Prof. Brendan Murphy (UCD), who gave inspiring talks about the roles of statisticians in society and the different paths we could take post-PhD.
As this was the first occasion the RSC had taken place in Ireland, a number of social events were organised to showcase the beauty of Dublin to our British and international friends, including a bus tour which took delegates around Dublin and provided a taste of its long history and vibrant culture. The charm and the humour of our Irish tour guide left a memorable impression on our international friends. Delegates also enjoyed a live music event at one of Dublin’s favourite pubs, the Whelans, and a comedy night at the Anseo pub. On the final night, the conference dinner took place in the welcoming atmosphere of the Hampton hotel, followed by fun group dancing afterwards.
All in all, RSC 2016 was a great success, and the feedback we received was very positive with many delegates commenting that it had been one of the the best conferences they had attended. We hope that delegates not only left RSC 2016 with many new research ideas, but also new friendships and lots of great memories.
REVIEW – Multi-state modelling workshop in Leeds (joint event with RSS Leeds/Bradford) on 14 Apr 2016
Complementary to the “Survival Analysis for Junior Researchers Conference” (see above), an afternoon workshop on multi-state modelling was jointly organised by the RSS Young Statisticians’ Section and the Leeds/Bradford local group on 14 April 2016. Several SAfJR delegates stayed on for the workshop and were joined by local group members. The meeting was introduced and chaired by Professor Linda Sharples (Leeds Institute of Clinical Trials Research, University of Leeds).
The first speaker was Dr Andrew Titman (Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Lancaster) who gave a talk entitled ‘Multi-state modelling: An overview’ to provide an introduction to the methodology. The talk gave an overview of the principal methods and key assumptions used in multi-state models, covering both continuously observed processes (where much of the machinery from standard survival analysis carries across) and interval-censored or panel-observed data (where there are additional computational challenges, and analysis is usually parametric). The methods were illustrated through application to progression-free and overall survival in cancer studies, and modelling the onset of cardiac allograft vasculopathy in post-heart-transplantation patients.
To offer an example of current research in the field, Dr Aidan O’Keeffe (Department of Statistical Science, University College London) gave a presentation entitled ‘Multi-state models and causal arguments: Application to a study of clinical damage in psoriatic arthritis’. The presentation illustrated the use of multi-state models as a method for assessing a causal effect of one process on another in the context of psoriatic arthritis, and showed how multi-state models can be used to assess the causal relationship between disease activity (tenderness and swelling) and clinical joint damage.
The final speaker was Dr Howard Thom (School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol) whose talk was entitled ‘Using Parameter Constraints to choose State-Structures in Cost-effectiveness Modelling’. This research addressed the question of structural uncertainty in cost-effectiveness decision models – in particular, the choice of state-structure when using a multi-state model. Key model outputs, such as treatment recommendations and identification of future research needs, may be sensitive to this choice of state-structure. Dr Thom described a new method that involves re-expressing a model with merged states as a model on the larger state space, meaning that standard statistical methods for comparing models with a common reference dataset can be used. This methodology was then applied to data for prescribing anti-depressants by depression severity.
Overall, the workshop gave a comprehensive overview of methodologies in the field, and illustrated them through two very different applications in causal assessment of the relationship between different elements of arthritis and to health economics decision modelling.
The slides from the event can be found at the local group website: