Event report: Parliamentary Links Day 2017

Written by Daria Gromyko on . Posted in Features

This year I had the honour of being invited by Hetan Shah (RSS executive director) to the Parliamentary Links Day 2017 to represent the RSS as both a young statistician and an official statistics practitioner. This prestigious annual event is organised by the Royal Society of Biology and brings together the scientific community and members of parliament. RSS statistical ambassador and PhD student at MRC Biostatistics Unit in CambridgeSusan Connolly, also attended on behalf of the RSS. The theme of this year’s event was ‘UK science and global opportunities’.

Representatives from learned societies, academia and scientific professional bodies were welcomed to Parliament by Stephen Metcalfe MP, the former chair of the Science and Technology Select Committee. Speakers included John Kingman (chair designate of UK Research & Innovation), Jo Johnson (universities and science minister) and House of Commons speaker John Bercow, who all talked about their vision for UK science, the challenges we face and the way forward in addressing them. Themes touched upon were education and funding for scientific research, as well as the main theme of the day. 

In stats we trust – an interview with David Norgrove

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in Features

The RSS was delighted at the appointment of one of its fellows, Sir David Norgrove, to the position of UKSA chair back in March 2017 when Sir Andrew Dilnot stepped down. We spoke to David a couple of months after his appointment to ask him about his plans as he gets to grips with his role.

David is no stranger to the inner workings of government; he was former private secretary (1985-88) to the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and after spending 16 years with Marks & Spencer he became the inaugural chair of the Pensions Regulator in 2005 and chaired the Low Pay Commission (2009-16).

Critical thinking and stats literacy are the answers to a post-truth age

Written by Hetan Shah on . Posted in Features

RSS executive director Hetan Shah explores the concepts of 'post-truth' and 'fake news' and what can be done to improve the quality of public debate in this forthcoming UK election and beyond.

We are apparently in a world of post-truth. The election of President Trump across the pond, and EU referendum campaign have convinced many that truth is under attack in a way never seen before. What does this all mean for the unexpected General Election campaign we are now in?

David Spiegelhalter on being RSS president

Written by David Spiegelhalter on . Posted in Features

Our president writes about what the role has entailed for him since taking up his presidency at the beginning of 2017.

I’ve been RSS President for nearly six months, and it’s been a fascinating experience. Although I’ve been a member of the Society for around 40 years, I never really had much of an idea of all the things it got up to, and I’ve been amazed at the extraordinary breadth of activities, from the familiar planning of events, to preparation of submissions to parliamentary inquiries. 

From Bill to Royal Assent: Our work on the Digital Economy Act

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in Features

The RSS pressed for greater provision around data sharing for statistics and research in the Digital Economy Act as it passed through both Houses of Parliament. Here we explain how the RSS influenced Parliament in respect of this major and highly complex piece of legislation.

The RSS has played an important role in influencing the way new legislation relating to statistics and research has been formed in the UK’s new Digital Economy Act, which was finally rubber-stamped by Parliament on 27 April 2017.

Teaching statistics in Africa: Volunteering for AIMS-Tanzania

Written by Nancy Duong Nguyen on . Posted in Features

The RSS campaign to send statisticians to teach MSc students in Africa is about to send another of our fellows to the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) centre in Tanzania. Nancy Duong Nguyen, who recently finished her PhD in Statistics at University College Dublin, explains what motivated her to volunteer for the scheme before she makes her six-week trip to AIMS-Tanzania.

In the first year of my PhD, I had the pleasure of listening to Jonathan Rougier (Bristol) and Peter Diggle (Lancaster) discuss their interesting projects in Africa. Along with other students at the Academy for PhD Training in Statistics, I was fascinated (and amused) with Professor Rougier’s work on weighing donkeys in Kenya and inspired by Professor Diggle’s work on modelling the prevalence of river blindness in some African countries. These two professors concluded their talks with what I will always remember - there are more than enough good problems for us statisticians to work on and that we should always analyse the problems, not the data.

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