2016 Conference poster winners

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Each year, the RSS hosts a poster competition at its Annual Conference, where researchers have the opportunity to display and discuss their research with conference delegates. Prizes are also given to those deemed the best entries.

1st Prize – Springer ‘International Encyclopedia of Statistical Science’
Frank Dondelinger (Lancaster University)
Efficient High-Dimensional Drug Sensitivity Prediction in Heterogeneous Cancer Cell Lines

Big data for policy - and policies for big data

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How do we formulate policy in order to utilize the swathes of ‘big data’ that are now being produced? And how do we use this data in order to formulate policy? These were the big questions being discussed by the three speakers at a session on 'Big data for policy' at the RSS 2016 Conference.

Current policy around innovation does not make much use of data, and this is something Stian Westlake, head of policy at Nesta – an innovation foundation - would like changed. In his talk, ‘Towards a strategic brain for industrial and innovation policy’ Stian described how once, the British government used to record a lot of data about industry, at macro and micro level. Since the days of the 1965 National Plan, however, we have gradually stopped gathering a lot of this micro-economic data.

Getting political: A statistician's guide to influencing parliament

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Statisticians and parliamentarians might not seem the most obvious of friends but as statistics becomes increasingly entrenched in political debate (as shown by the EU referendum campaign), statisticians are a valuable ally to MPs and peers alike. The RSS 2016 professional development session titled ‘A statistician’s guide to influencing parliament’ was aimed at those looking to make an impact with their work on the legislative process.

Gary Hart of the Parliamentary Outreach Team highlighted the numerous ways in which statisticians can reach out to parliamentarians. Select committees hold a large number of inquiries for which they actively welcome written responses from those in the statistical community. This is an area in which the RSS is very active in, having (at time of writing), submitted 21 responses to a varied range of inquiries, from civil service skills to how science can be better communicated to the public.

Try your hand at the RSS 2016 Pub Quiz

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The YSS were delighted to organise “pub quiz” at last week’s RSS 2016 conference in Manchester. They 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.

 Quiz questions are available here. The answers will appear on YSS website in the next few days.

The Campion lecture: Statistical insights into the Ebola outbreak

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Every year, the RSS president personally invites someone to give the Campion lecture at the RSS conference and this year, Peter Diggle invited Professor Christl Donnelly to give a talk regarding the role of statistics in responding to the recent Ebola outbreak in west Africa.

The recent Ebola outbreak was the biggest the world had ever witnessed. To date, more than 28,000 cases have been reported, of which there were more than 11,000 deaths.

Tracking disease: Spatial statistics for tropical disease control

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Spatial statistics can be used to monitor tropical disease spread and this session featured three experts in this area.

Emanuele Giorgi (pictured) has been studying ways in which to track lymphatic filariasis, a disease that affects the limbs in populations across Africa and Asia, mainly transmitted by mosquito. There are two ways of counting the microfilariae in individuals; the first is more accurate but can only be done at night as they are nocturnal; the second diagnostic does not need to be done at night but it does not give an overall count. Emanuele explained how a bivariate geostatistical model could be used to get a more accurate count using the second diagnostic given the the count found in a sample of individuals.

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