2008 Diary

These are some of the undertakings and travellings of members of the Department of Statistics during 2008. There are omissions.

Workshop for women researchers in the mathematical sciences

Ilze Ziedins attended this workshop at the University of Canterbury in December, and co-presented a session on "Surviving a Conference" along with Vivien Kirk.

Claude McCarthy Fellowship

Jennifer Wilcock has received a 2009 Claude McCarthy Fellowships, awarded by Public Trust and the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors Committee (NZVCC). Jenny is developing methods for analysing epidemiological study data and will be using her fellowship to attend the Joint Statistical Meetings in Washington, DC in August 2009, to present a paper on her PhD research.


Lyndon Walker, on the organising committee, and Alethea Rea, conference co-chair, and a number of students and staff attended the New Zealand Mathematics and Statistics Postgraduate Conference 2008 in mid-November.

Ross Ihaka awarded Pickering Medal

Ross Ihaka
Ross Ihaka

Ross Ihaka was awarded the Pickering Medal by the Royal Society of New Zealand. This report comes from NZIMA:

Ross Ihaka (University of Auckland), whose work with Robert Gentleman in creating the "R" system for statistical computing was featured on the front page of Issue 3 of our NZ-IMAges bulletin, was awarded the Pickering Medal of the Royal Society of New Zealand at the NZ Science Honours Dinner in Wellington on 11th November. The Pickering Medal, which recognises excellence and innovation in practical applications of technology, is one of the three premier awards made by the RSNZ at the annual dinner.

The uptake of the "R" system has been phenomenal. It has become the statistical package of choice for many statisticians around the world, particularly in universities, but also industry and government. For example, it is invaluable for processing huge amounts of genomic and survival data. "R" is sponsored by notable companies and organisations such as Astra Zeneca, HortResearch, Merck, Sharp & Dohme, and Telecom. It is used for both teaching and research by hundreds of universities around the world, including Stanford, Oxford, Cambridge and Berkeley.

There are over 40 books written about, or featuring, the use of "R", and the package and the journal paper introducing it have been cited over 1700 times, by far the highest for publications in the mathematical sciences over the last ten years, worldwide. It is now disseminated through 75 internet sites in 30 different countries.

Dr Steven Miller

Steven Miller has completed all the examination requirements and been awarded his PhD.

Richard Robinson Award

Patricia Metcalf, Alastair Scott, and others
Patricia Metcalf

Patricia Metcalf, Robert Scragg, David Schaaf, Lorna Dyall, Peter Black, Rod Jackson have been presented with the Richard Robinson Award for excellence in medical writing.

The award-winning research was funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand, and can be found in the New Zealand Medical Journal NZMJ 17-Nov-2006 - Vol 119 No 1245, "Trends in major cardiovascular risk factors in Auckland: 1982 to 2002-2003".

NZSA Conference

Stephen Taylor, an MSc student in our Department, has just won the first prize in the competition of student presentations at the Annual Conference of the New Zealand Statistical Association. In his talk, he described a new, fast algorithm for computing a nonparametric survival function that works robustly in all situations.

Invited speakers from this Department include:

  • Statistical Genetics: Sharon Browning
  • Statistical Computing: David Scott, Yong Wang, and Paul Murrell
  • Probability and Stochastic Processes: Mark Holmes
  • Departmental review

    At the Senate's sixth meeting the Department of Statistics review was unveiled:

    The report of the committee set up to review the Department of Statistics was received. This affirmed its status as a leading -- if not the leading -- Statistics Department in Australasia. There are some issues around its volume of service teaching and developing a University-wide statistical consulting service.

    Rachel Cunliffe's new son

    Eli Cunliffe was born to Rachel and Regan on 08.08.08.

    Early Career Research Excellence Awards and the Best Doctoral Thesis Awards for 2007

    The Best Doctoral Thesis winners include:

    Christian Röver, Bayesian Inference on Astrophysical Binary Inspirals Based on Gravitational-Wave Measurements.

    Main supervisor: Associate Professor Renate Meyer; Co-supervisor: Dr Nelson Christensen

    Kristy Su awarded PhD

    Kristy Su has been awarded her PhD for Optimal Controls for Queueing Networks. Kristy was supervised by Ilze Ziedins.

    7th World Congress in Probability and Statistics

    Mark Holmes was an invited speaker at the 7th World Congress in Probability and Statistics, in Singapore. Ross Ihaka was also invited.

    Tails from Réunion

    James Russell with red-tail

    James Russell has briefly returned from Réunion Island with news regarding his research on red-tailed tropic birds and differential population growth models. He delivered a seminar on Bayesian Hierarchical Occupancy Modelling of the Swedish Bird Survey.

    James Curran

    James Curran has been promoted to Associate Professor.

    Biostatistics Workshop 2008

    The Department, along with the Biostatistics unit at CTRU, and the University of Otago, held a workshop on Longitudinal Data Analysis (LDA 2008) in the newly refurbished lecture theatres on February 21 and 22.

    Around eighty people attended the two day workshop.

    Chris Triggs HoD

    Chris Triggs is the new Head of Department.

    Son born to Ivan

    Ivan Kojadinovic and his wife Jessica have a son, Nicolas.

    Postgraduate Student Research Projects

    The NZIMA is now supporting the following new research projects by postgraduate students at New Zealand universities, in addition to those projects forming part of our thematic programmes and eleven others sponsored independently of our programmes:

    • "New methods for estimating effective population size" Jing Liu (PhD, Statistics, University of Auckland, supervised by Dr Rachel Fewster)
    • "Optimal control and phase transitions in stochastic networks" Tong Zhu (PhD, Statistics, University of Auckland, supervised by Dr Ilze Ziedins)

    Seminars in 2008. Go back to 2007.

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