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YSS @ RSS 2019

Each year the YSS join other sections, fellows, and members of the Royal Statistical Society at the RSS International Conference. This year’s conference was held in Belfast on the 2nd – 5th September and was filled with fascinating sessions including our 10th year anniversary celebration. We summarise here a selection of talks we were involved in, enjoy!

The rise of #StatsTwitter, risk and rewards

Belfast, 3rd September 2019
a review by Altea Lorenzo-Arribas (Biomathematics & Statistics Scotland)

This engaging session organised by Darren L. Dahly gave a great insight on the increasing reach of #StatsTwitter and its potential for fascinating collaborations, as well as some drawbacks.

In his fascinating talk, Darren L. Dahly @statsepi (see summary thread below) highlighted some of his successful stories through the use of Twitter and gave a great lesson on how to make the most of this social media tools.

Maarten van Smeden @MaartenvSmeden followed with a very useful talk on how to create a successful scientific thread. You can see some of his great tips below:

Finally, Altea Lorenzo @Altea_Lorenzo encouraged the audience to address issues of diversity and inclusion also in #StatsTwitter, and shared advice on how to make your Twitter experience more gratifying and enlightening by following and interacting with other communities and groups outside of your own. See her slides below:

StatsTwitter, diversity and inclusion

The talks were followed by an open discussion between the three speakers, Deirdre Toher @dtoher, and the audience, on the potential dangers and benefits of Twitter, how to use it effectively and how to promote kindness in the #StatsTwitter community.

Great mapping by Darren L Dahly of the Twitter interactions during the conference.

Tweet all about it!

Belfast, 4th September 2019
a review by Altea Lorenzo-Arribas  (Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland)

In this YSS session, Lucy Teece, Emily Granger and Altea Lorenzo covered a brief overview of Twitter for professionals, going from the very basics, i.e., how to tweet and main concepts, to a more advanced use of Twitter tools to engage the audience.

5 tips for a great Twitter experience:

1. Don’t be an egg, be proactive!

2.Follow a wide range of Twitter accounts

3. Be kind

4. Have fun by using GIFS, emojis, bitmojis…

5. Give threads/tweetorials a try!

If you want to learn more, check out their slides:

and don’t forget to follow our account @statsyss for updates on our events and to network with other early career researchers.

See you in the Twitterverse! 🙂

Significance-YSS writing competition winners session

Belfast, 4th September 2019
a review by by Sarah Nevitt (University of Liverpool)

The first of the RSS Prize winner’s sessions of RSS conference was a special session in which the three finalists for the Statistical Excellence Award for Early Career Writing 2019 delivered presentations based on their articles.

Firstly, Luke Shaw from the Office of National Statistics (also on behalf of his brother Liam, also from the Office of National Statistics presented the 2019 winning article, ‘The flying bomb and the actuary.’ The Shaw brothers recreated and extended actuary R.D. Clarke’s textbook Poisson analysis from 75 years ago to assess whether WW2 flying bombs were falling on London at random or at specific targets, with their data provided in a Google map layer.

Secondly, 2019 finalist Marco Antonio Andrade, who had travelled all the way from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, told us a story about a tiny bot, Artemis. Artemis is a working artificial intelligence application who can emulate human thinking. He has a name, a date of birth and can learn via machine learning algorithms, such as to classify stock chart patterns with higher accuracy and speed than a human brain is capable of.

Finally, 2019 finalist Maximilian Aigner from the Université de Lausanne spoke about ‘Polarisation and the popular vote in Switzerland,’ the country where around 50% of the worlds’ referendum votes have happened. Using data from the last 100 years of referendums in Switzerland, highlighting the most polarising (i.e. referendums with high participation and a close outcome) votes of each decade, results indicate that events equally or more polarising than the 2016 UK referendum are quite frequent.

Congratulations to all three finalists on their excellent articles and presentations and we look forward to seeing the ‘The flying bomb and the actuary’ published in the October edition of Significance magazine

Pre-Plenary session

Belfast, 5th September 2019
a review by Craig Anderson  (University of Glasgow)

The Pre-Plenary Overview session took place on the morning of Thursday 5th September at the RSS Conference in Belfast as part of the Professional Development stream. The event was organised by Gareth McCray on behalf of the Young Statisticians Section of the RSS. The purpose of the event was to provide a brief introduction to the topic of hypergraphs to help get people up to speed with the topic ahead of the plenary session given later the same morning.

The presentation was given by Simon Lunagomez Coria (Lancaster University). He started by introducing the concept of random graph models, which describe the relationship between objects within a network. This led us into the topic of hypergraphs, which are more complex networks which cannot necessarily be explained in terms of object pairs (eg video conferencing and co-authorship of statistical papers). Several types of hypergraph were outlined and Simon further noted the ways in which these models have been adapted to suit a number of statistical needs, notably in terms of Bayesian networks. He concluded with some overall remarks on the topic of hypergraphs, designed to lead in to the upcoming plenary session.

Getting your work published and maximising its impact

Belfast, 4th September 2019
a review by Emily Granger (University of Manchester)

“Getting your research published and maximising its impact” was a session jointly organised by Wiley and the Young Statisticians Section. The session aimed to provide guidance on the publication process, from writing the draft to promoting the final published paper, for early-career researchers. 

First up was Professor Jouni Kuha, a joint editor of the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A. Jouni gave us an overview of the submission and review process for journal articles and shared some tips on how to respond to reviews and increase our chances of getting a paper accepted.

Following Jouni, Brian Tarran gave a talk on writing for Significance. Significance is the official magazine of the Royal Statistical Society and the American Statistical Association, and publishes articles on topics of statistical interest for a very general audience. As the editor of significance, Brian was able to share his insight on the “how, what and why” of writing for magazines. 

Our final speakers were Stephen Raywood, Senior Journals Publishing Manager at Wiley, and Beverley Harnett, Senior Marketing Manager at Wiley. Stephen and Beverley told us about how Wiley can help with the publishing process once a paper has been accepted, and what tools there are available that we can use to help promote our work.

The session ended with a lively Q&A between the audience and panel members. We covered a range of topics from open access and data sharing, to how to deal with conflicts in the review process, and how to make video abstracts of our research. Thanks to our speakers, and participation from the audience, this was a useful, engaging, and brilliant session overall. 

RSC winners session

Belfast, 5th September 2019
a review by Altea Lorenzo-Arribas (Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland)

The three winners from the Research Students’ Conference in Probability and Statistics 2019 (RSC2019) held in Exeter in June, presented their great talks on state-of-the-art topics to the RSS audience.

Ryan Jessop, Jack Kennedy and Evan Baker ready to give their award-winning talks.

Ryan Jessop from Clicksco started the session showcasing analysis of online user browsing and describing the challenges faced when predicting profiles.

Ryan Jessop presenting his work “ Analysis of clickstream data “. Picture credit: Liz Buckingham Jeffery (YSS)

Evan Baker from University of Exeter highlighted challenges when emulating stochastic computer models and explained how to improve the emulation of these models via a deterministic approximation.

Evan Baker presenting his work “ Improving the Emulation of Stochastic Computer Models “. Picture credit: Liz Buckingham Jeffery (YSS)

Jack Kennedy from University of Newcastle finished the session discussing the application of emulation techniques to offshore wind farms and introduced ideas for uncertainty quantification using expert elicitation in this context.

Jack Kennedy presenting his work “ Uncertainty Quantification for Offshore Wind Energy “. Picture credit: Richard Gray

Poster sessions

a review by Altea Lorenzo-Arribas (Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland)

A fantastic selection of more than 60 posters were displayed as part of the conference two poster sessions. You can find below Twitter highlights from these sessions and a sneak peak of some of the posters:

Copies of the winning posters can be found below:

1st prize: Modelling and monitoring the environmental impacts of aquaculture, by Michael Currie et al (University of Glasgow)

2nd prize: Harnessing repeated measurements of predictor variables: a review of existing methods for clinical risk prediction, by Lucy Bull et al (University of Manchester)

YSS @ RSS 2018

Each year the YSS join other sections, Fellows, and members of the Royal Statistical Society at the RSS International Conference. This year’s conference was held in Cardiff on the 3rd – 6th September. Members of the YSS Committee have written up pieces on some of the sessions we helped to organise this year.


Getting your research published and maximising its impact
a review by Altea Lorenzo-Arribas (Biomathematics & Statistics Scotland)

This publishing workshop jointly organised with Wiley was a great forum for early-career researchers and publishing editors to share opinions and queries about the statistics publishing status quo, covering tips for publication as well as research dissemination and impact.

Harvey Goldstein, editor of the Royal Statistical Society Series A journal, provided a very useful and motivational overview of the focus of the journal on methodological innovation understood not only as the use of new techniques per se but also looking at the novel application of techniques that are not exploited in a specific area of research or solutions to real-life problems tackled with state-of-the-art approaches. He also encouraged the submission of historical papers throwing new light both philosophically or statistically speaking, ultimately encouraging quantitative and qualitative discussion and reflections mirroring the multidisciplinary nature of statistics.

Featured (L-R): Brian Tarran, Stephen Raywood & Harvey Goldstein. Image credit: Richard Gray

Paul Smith, discussion paper editor for the Journals of the Royal Statistical Society, gave an extensive and very useful set of specifications of the actual articles for publication, suggesting a story-telling focus with clear and succinct titles and descriptions with an aim to ensure replicability and reproducibility (particularly relevant for case studies and simulations), without ignoring the power of relevant good figures.

Featured: Paul Smith. Photograph credit: Richard Gray

Stephen Raywood, Senior Journals Publishing Manager at Wiley, introduced the exciting interactive tools that Wiley makes available for researchers to maximise publication impact. Find more about Kudos and the Almetric service on this link.

Finally, Brian Tarran, editor of Significance magazine, encouraged research dissemination to a wider audience as a fantastic opportunity for statisticians at all levels to make their work accessible and far reaching. Brian recommended the use of informally styled statistical stories that your friends and family would be happy to read. He concluded his talk by reminding the audience about the many different forms of engagement with Significance including: entries for the Significance & YSS writing competition (check details on the winning entries for this year’s edition here); 2,500-3,500 words articles in the magazine; web features; contributions to the Timeline of Statistics; and potentially podcasts in the near future!

We hope this session motivated you to write, write, write, as much as it did to us!

YSS Pub Quiz
a review by David Mclernon

Kongs, an industrial hipster style bar located in a trendy area of Cardiff, hosted 23 teams tackling six quiz rounds on general knowledge, random pictures, sports, music, populations and Welsh trivia while sipping on free drinks, generously provided by ATASS Sports.

‘Stat Out of Hell’ received the YSS committee’s vote for best team name.  Special shout outs to ‘Stochastic Seven’ and ‘MCMC Hammer’!

Congratulations to ‘If we win it, it was all down to Jen; If we lose it was all down to Rob’ who won by a clear 7 points with 94 points (out of 120). Runners Up were Fisher’s Fingers with 87 points followed by Cold Steel with 84 points.

Get Involved: Volunteering in the UK
a review by Emily Granger

The Young Statisticians Section organised a professional development session titled ‘Get Involved: Volunteering in the UK’. This session included three excellent speakers who highlighted a variety of ways in which statisticians can volunteer for the RSS and associated initiatives.

Deirdre Toher kicked off the session with her presentation ‘Statistics behind the headlines’. Deirdre was one of the first cohort of RSS statistical ambassadors and has a great deal of experience helping journalists understand statistics. She discussed how we can work with the media to ensure statistics is communicated well to the public.

Next up was Simon White who talked about becoming a STEM Ambassador. Simon has long been involved in public engagement and outreach and it was a pleasure to hear his advice on volunteering in school to promote statistics.

Amaka Nwagbara ended the session by presenting on the Sections and Local Groups within the RSS. Amaka is the Member Engagement Manager at RSS and she gave us a great overview of the aims and activities undertaken by each society section. Overall this session inspired a number of ways for statisticians to get involved. For those interested, the RSS website ( gives information on all sections and local groups, becoming an RSS Statistical Ambassador and ideas for statistical STEM activities.

Ross The YSS Mascot
created by Lucy Teece

Videos and slides from the sessions organised by the YSS at the RSS conference can be found below:


YSS @ RSS 2017

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)

Poster Review.jpg
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.

STEM Showcase

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

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.

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