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 YSS were delighted to organise the Tuesday evening “pub quiz” at last week’s RSS 2016 conference in Manchester. We had a tremendous turn-out, with over 80 people competing for a range of prizes and enjoying free drinks, thanks to very generous sponsorship from ATASS Sports. When the final scores were tallied up, the winning team were “The Unsignificant Five” (163 points), with “Meet In The Middle” (156 points) and “Probably Last” (155 points) following close behind.
If you fancy having a go at the quiz, simply click on the link below to bring up the pdf of questions! The answers will appear here in the next few days.
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 YSS will be running no fewer than 12 events at next week’s RSS2016 conference in Manchester – a new record! Click on the flyer below to find out more.
We’ll be out in force at the conference with no fewer than eight members of the YSS committee in attendance – look out for our eye-catching red t-shirts!