Each year the YSS join other sections, Fellows, and members of the Royal Statistical Society at the RSS International Conference. The conference is aimed at anyone interested in data analysis and statistics and comprises of a mixture of keynote presentations, invited speaker sessions, professional development workshops, a poster presentation session, numerous prize winners sessions, the RSS awards ceremony, and an array of evening social events.
This year the record-breaking conference was held in Glasgow on the 4th – 7th September. Our thoughtful members have written up a few of their conference highlights for those who were unable to attend the event, those who were not able to register due to the conference selling out, and those who want to find out what all of the fuss is about!
The best reviews (as voted by the YSS Committee) have each won a £100 book voucher, which has been generously provided by Wiley.
Not just a statistics conference – a review by Laura Bonnett (WINNER)
Any preconceptions I had that the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) Conference would be too broad to be useful were quickly transformed during my attendance at this year’s event in Glasgow. Although the conference does programme parallel sessions related to specific streams such as social, environmental and official statistics, the real strength of the agenda, in my opinion, lies in the general streams such as communicating statistics, and professional development.
Despite the variation in experience of the attendees I am confident everyone would have gained from talks relating to promoting statistical literacy, presenting statistical results, and using social media to communicate statistics. This was particularly evidenced by the audience for the Young Statisticians Section and RSS Education Committee’s joint session entitled STEM Showcase. Following a demonstration of activities being developed to engage the next generation of statisticians and scientists, panellists fielded questions from PhD students and post-docs through to eminent statisticians such as Professors David Spiegelhalter, Sheila Bird and Stephen Senn.
I believe that as statisticians we have a duty to inspire the next generation, and to engage the public with our subject. This year’s RSS conference certainly inspired many, and provided the skills to do just that!
Prize winners: Young Statistician’s Meeting 2016/2017 & Research Students Conference 2017 – a review by Johnathan Love and Katie Pyper
The Prize Winners of the Young Statisticians Meeting (YSM) in the years 2016 and 2017 and those from the Researchers Student Conference (RSC) in 2017 took to the auditorium stage at the Royal Statistical Society’s International Conference 2017
Within the YSM 2016 Winners session, attendees were treated to a talk about how to best combine multiple imputation techniques and propensity scores in light of missing data (Emily Granger). In addition, we also had interesting talks that focused on applying quantitative bias analysis to estimate the plausible effects of selection bias in a cluster randomised controlled trial setting (Lauren Barnett) and were also told about a current longitudinal study that is being undertaken by the Department of Education which aims to gain insight about various aspects of young people’s lives (Viktoria Vianeva).
As for the YSM 2017 Winners session, attendees were able to discover what the Office for National Statistics uses when faced with asymmetries in UK trade flows (Katie O Farrell), as well as finding out whether or not nursing stations within bays of hospital wards reduce the rate of inpatient falls via an interrupted time series analysis (Usama Ali) and learned about the analysis of network time series, which arise in environmental, social, and medical settings (Kathryn Leeming).
Finally, in the RSC 2017 Winners session, attendees found out about latent class analysis and the health risk factors with respect to the development of new pain in older Irish adults (Aoife O’Neill), sequential Monte Carlo Methods and a new algorithm being developed that could be used for epidemic data (Jessica Welding) and learned about Spatio-temporal modelling and prediction applied to specific Road Accident Hotspots (Joe Matthews).
The presenters should be proud of the high quality of their presentations, for answering questions from attendees in a professional and informative manner and for highlighting the various fields in which the subject of Statistics proves to be a useful and an important tool in our society at present, and for the foreseeable future.
Getting your research published and maximising its impact – a review by Sarah Nevitt
There was standing room only at this Professional Development session, organised jointly by the Young Statisticians Section and by Wiley, with a very experienced panel of speakers across a wide range of disciplines. The session opened with the reflections and personal experiences of Professor Adrian Bowman (University of Glasgow and former Joint-Editor of RSS Journal Series C: Applied Statistics) as both an author submitting to journals and as an RSS journal editor reviewing submitted research. The session continued with Brian Tarran, editor of Significance Magazine, speaking about writing for Significance, why this style of writing is different to writing for journals and why young statisticians should consider writing for Significance. Finally, Stephen Raywood (Journal Editor, Wiley) and Jemma Blow (Associate Marketing Manager, Wiley) highlighted importance of self-promotion of your research to maximise the reach and impact of your work. Stephen and Jemma discussed a wide range of tools including Search Engine Optimisation, Article Citation Tracking, Altmetrics and Social Media Sharing tools.
The session ended with a lively panel discussion with questions ranging from the very specific (e.g. which journal should I submit my work to) to the very general (e.g. what is the biggest thing to avoid? The answer – submitting your work to more than one place at the same time!). The take-home message of the session was to remember that getting your research published in a journal is not the end of the line – you need to make sure that people read it, so get tweeting!
Poster Session – a review by Altea Lorenzo-Arribas (WINNER)
Have I got Stats for you! – a review by Lucy Teece
Directly following an inspired tribute to the late Hans Rosling, the Young Statisticians Section embraced the theme of the “Joy of Stats”, and presented their very own statistical panel game show “Have I Got Stats for You!”
The session consisted of a statistical mash-up of rounds taken from a number of family game shows. The first round, Insignificant (aka Pointless), had our panellists solving anagrams instead of formulas, as well as identifying famous statisticians and revealing the top UK mathematics universities. The second round, Statsphrase (aka Catchphrase), featured impressive animations of Ronald McDonald with a fishing pole (Ronald Fisher), Zoolander peering into a crystal ball (prediction model), and a teapot sitting an exam (t-test), from talented cartoonist M McClernon.
Our final round, Stats does Countdown (aka Countdown), left our panellists divided! The audience participation definitely added to the session!
Our two extraordinary panels were made up of David Spiegelhalter, Stephen Senn, Rebecca Goldin, and Scott Held. The panels, with their horn and cowbell buzzers at the ready and with a little audience participation, competed head-to-head answering a stack of questions around statistics. Congratulations to the formidable winning panel of David Spiegelhalter and Stephen Senn and a special thank you to US based Rebecca Goldin for participating for enthusiastically in quiz shows that have never made it across the Atlantic. Final thanks must be extended to the YSS Committee members, without whom the session would not have been possible.
Young Statistician’s Social Events – a review by Sarah Nevitt and Maria Sudell
The first day of RSS Conference 2017 brought together early career and young statisticians in a lunch reception. Over lunch, attendees enjoyed a series of ‘speed-networking’ questions including ‘2-minute thesis’ (describing your work or research in only 2 minutes) and the best setting or dream setting for a conference or course.
Wednesday night, following the inaugural and memorable ‘Have I got Stats for You!’ plenary was Pub Quiz night. Bar Home, a quaint and quirky venue close by to the Conference Centre hosted 16 teams tacking six quiz rounds on general knowledge, animated films, 21st century events, music, human anatomy and Scottish trivia while sipping on free drinks, generously provided by ATASS Sports.
‘Bayesian Baked Beans’ received the YSS committee’s vote for best team name and drama unfolded as two teams emerged victorious in the quiz with a tied score of 97 out of 125 points.
Congratulations to ‘The Proclaimers’ who snatched victory in the tie breaker: “How many miles separates the Royal Statistical Society Headquarters in London and our venue Bar Home in Glasgow?” The answer is 404 miles driving (according to Google maps).
Commiserations to ‘The Random Errors’ who were well deserved runners up and unlucky in the tie-breaker.
Professional development: Get Involved! – a review by Emily Granger (WINNER)
Along with a variety of stimulating statistical talks, the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) Conference hosted numerous professional development sessions. Collectively, these sessions offered inspiring advice for statisticians of any sector, at any stage of their career. For me, one of the most interesting sessions was ‘Get Involved’.
Three impressive speakers included Emanuele Giorgi who spoke passionately about his experiences in Africa teaching statistics to students from the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS). Karen Facey described various ways to get involved with the RSS and Laura Bonnett shared her experiences as a STEM Ambassador inspiring young people to consider STEM-related careers.
Laura’s talk peaked my interest. I have recently become a STEM Ambassador, but find the prospect of going into a school to inspire young people with statistics fairly daunting! However, Laura demonstrated how achievable this is by describing a number of tried and tested statistical activities. One example included using dice to show people that they are not as random as they might think!
The session left me more confident in my role as a STEM Ambassador and with new ideas for involvement with AIMS and RSS. Overall, these were three brilliant and motivating talks.
STEM Showcase – a review by Kevin Brosnan
Interacting with school children at all levels, and making them aware of the variety of careers available in statistics is of the utmost importance for the Royal Statistical Society, and the field of statistics as a whole. As such a session showcasing fun activities which can be used as ice-breakers to engage students, or as a tool to aid in the teaching of statistical concepts was hosted by the Young Statisticians Section. Johnathan Love opened the session with an overview of the initiatives run by the statistics group at the University of Strathclyde, including a game used in schools which requires using statistics to identify a murderer within the school. Dr. Simon White and Dr. Laura Bonnett then introduced many interesting and fun games developed in conjunction with the Royal Statistical Society’s Education Committee.
Each of the activities focused on developing a statistical concept through a game, which involved ducks, cards and penguins. A discussion with the three exceptional speakers followed with questions from many of those in attendance in the almost full to capacity venue. The resources developed by the RSS Education Committee can be found at www.rss.org.uk/hands-on/
Research Funding – a review by Sarah Nevitt
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. 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. 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. 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.
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!
YSS Get Involved – a review by Maria Sudell
The Young Statistician’s Section coordinated a ‘Get Involved’ session, designed to highlight some of the many ways young statisticians can get involved with areas of interest to the RSS. The session contained talks from Karen Facey on the sections and local groups that make up the RSS, from Laura Bonnett about STEM ambassadors who help promote statistics in schools, and from Emanuele Giorgi about the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS). The panel session which concluded the event gave the audience a chance to quiz the speakers about their valuable experiences as volunteers. More information on how you can get involved with the RSS as a volunteer can be found on the RSS website.
Statistical Excellence Award for Early-Career Writing – Awards session – a review by Markus Elze
This session featured the three winners of the 2017 Statistical Excellence Award for Early-Career Writing. Despite being the first session of the day after the Pub Quiz the night before, many participants attended and provided a lively discussion.
Levon Demirdjian examined the controversy surrounding the film The Promise in “When truth overshadows power” and analysed the polarised review scores it has received on the Internet Movie Database. Charlotte Moragh Jones-Todd exposed a pattern of murder in “A time to kill: Great British serial killers”, a statistical “true crime” story that looked at the occurrence of serial murders from the 1820s to the modern day. Kevin Lin explored political engagement in “We, the millennials: The statistical significance of political significance” and analysed changes in “upvoting” behaviour on the social news aggregation site Reddit over the past decade
To close the session the new BBC head of statistics Robert Cuffe gave a special guest presentation on “Engaging with the Media”. One of the messages was a call to action for statisticians to help their university press office and the media in selecting stories that are worth reporting.
CStat: What? Why? How? – a review by Kevin Brosnan
Dr. Paul Baxter and Dr. Rob Mastrodomenico provided attendees with a complete walk-through of the what, why and how of Chartered and Graduate Statistician professional qualifications. Paul, the Vice-President for Professional Affairs, led the session with an overview of the professional qualification, the advantages of acquiring the status of CStat and then introduced the application process. Rob, as a current member applying for CStat status, presented his own motivation for applying and then presented elements of his application form to help those in the audience interested in applying. With a full room of interested statisticians the twenty minute Q&A was barely without a silence, and the knowledge acquired from both Paul and Rob was hugely beneficial to attendees.