Nominees for RSS Council 2018

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At the end of this year, six Ordinary members of Council (our trustees) will complete their four-year terms of office. Also, in March one Council member resigned from her post. This means that we will need to elect a total of seven new Council members to fill these vacancies, with the newly-elected Ordinary members commencing their terms of office on 1 January 2018.

In January, we asked fellows to nominate suitable candidates to stand for election as Ordinary members of Council. Having taken into account all the suggestions received from the membership, Council has nominated the nine fellows named below to stand election for the seven vacancies (as Society regulations require that Council put forward for election two more nominations than the number of vacancies).

At this stage, further nominations can be made should any four fellows wish to nominate another fellow to stand for election as an Ordinary member of Council. If you would like to make such a nomination, please send these to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Shah (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) by 1 July, together with the written consent of the nominee(s).

The election for Ordinary members will be held in September and October 2017.

A list of current Ordinary members of Council is available on the RSS main site at

The nine nominees for the seven vacancies on Council in alphabetical order:

Mark Briers (joined 2011)

Mark is a strategic programme director at the Alan Turing Institute. He also holds an honorary senior lecturer position at Imperial College London, where he teaches scalable statistical methods using big data technology to statistics students. He has worked in industry for more than 16 years, directing research programmes in the area of statistical data analysis. He completed his PhD in 2007 at Cambridge University where he developed sequential Monte Carlo based techniques for state-space filtering and smoothing, contributing over 15 publications at the intersection of statistics and information engineering. His current research interests include scalable Bayesian inference, sequential inference, and anomaly detection.

Mark has been an active member of the RSS for many years. He joined the General Applications Section as a committee member in 2011, and then took the role of secretary in 2014, a role which he still undertakes today. He has been instrumental in reshaping the remit of this Section, including revising the focus of the Section towards emerging applications, and thus complementing other sections' activities. Mark is also an active member of the RSS conference organising committee, where he is jointly leading the data science stream for the forthcoming conference.

Christl Donnelly (joined 1994)

Christl is professor of statistical epidemiology at Imperial College London. She worked at the University of Edinburgh from 1992 to 1995 and the University of Oxford from 1995 to 2000 before moving to Imperial as a founding member of the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology. She has a BA degree from Oberlin College in mathematics and MSc and ScD degrees from Harvard University in biostatistics. She works across a wide range of infectious diseases (from bovine TB and foot-and-mouth disease to Ebola and SARS), with a particular interest in outbreaks, bringing together statistical inference and mathematical transmission modelling. She was recently elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (2015) and a Fellow of the Royal Society (2016). 

Christl is an active member of the RSS. At the 2016 RSS annual conference she gave the President's invited Campion lecture focusing on her work on the Ebola outbreak, and she took part in the session entitled 'A statistician’s guide to influencing Parliament' and the Young Statisticians’ Section STEM Showcase event. She is currently serving as the RSS William Guy lecturer visiting schools and science festivals promoting statistical interests and careers to children. Christl previously served on Council from 2001 to 2005.

Blaise Egan (joined 1984)

Blaise works for BT plc, a major telcoms company in the UK, and is one of less than a handful of statisticians amongst tens of thousands of engineers and computer scientists. His remit is to help senior management make better, more evidence-based, decisions and to improve the quality and efficiency of BT's business processes.

Blaise is involved in a wide range of things across the BT Group, including customer experience issues, network engineering issues, regulatory finance issues, and helping Group HR prove that we are being fair to all our people, irrespective of their age, gender, part-time/full-time status and a range of other attributes. He also teaches introductory stats on the annual Data Science course run by Research department and act as an R 'guru' across the business. His work involves having broadly-based statistical skills rather than great depth in any one area, although some areas (sampling and forecasting) come up repeatedly and has a fondness for Bayesian methods. Blaise is passionate about the value of statistical thinking and statistical techniques as means to improve decision-making quite generally.

Philip Jonathan (joined 1995, CStat 1998)

Phil is an applied statistician and head of Shell’s Statistics and Data Science group providing research, consultancy and training in statistics to Shell globally. He has 28 years of experience with statistical modelling of physical systems, in particular extremes of the ocean environment, and has published more than 80 articles in the engineering, physics and statistics literature. Working on the interface of industry and academia, Philip has been honorary fellow in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Lancaster University since 2008, and has acted as industrial supervisor to 15 PhD students. He holds a BSc in Applied Mathematics (1984) and a PhD in Chemical Physics (1987) from Swansea University, and was awarded CStat status in 1999. His current activities are outlined at∼jonathan.

Ruth King (joined 2002)

Ruth is the Thomas Bayes chair of statistics at the University of Edinburgh (since 2015). Prior to this, Ruth held positions as a lecturer, and subsequently reader, at the University of St Andrews (2003-15), an EPSRC post-doctoral fellow (2003-5) and a research associate at the University of Cambridge (2001-3). 

She is also a Faculty Fellow and member of the Programme Committee of the Alan Turing Institute (2016-18). Since taking up her appointment in Edinburgh, Ruth has been active in establishing a new MSc in Statistics with Data Science and has the led the development of the academic content for the massive open online course (MOOC), Statistics: Unlocking the World of Data hosted by the University of Edinburgh.

Ruth’s main research interests lie in the development of novel statistical models and associated efficient model-fitting techniques for data arising in different application areas, primarily ecology and epidemiology. Particular areas of interest include dealing with missing data, model uncertainty, hidden (semi-) Markov models, state-space models and incorporating different forms of heterogeneity. She has co-authored over 50 peer-reviewed publications and two research monographs in Statistical Ecology.

Ruth is an active member of the statistics community. She is currently a member of the RSS Research Section Committee (2016-19); RSS Honours Committee (2016-18); International Biometric Society (IBS) Editorial Advisory Committee (2016-19); and an elected council member of the IBS (2013-17).  She is also associate editor for Journal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Statistics (2012+) and Royal Society Open Science (2016-19). Ruth has also been active in conference organization, including chair of the local organising committee for the IBS Channel Network Conference, 2013; member of the organising committee for the Young Statisticians Meeting, 2003; International Statistical Ecology Conference 2008, 2018; programme committee member for the RSS Conference, 2009; and session organiser for the RSS Conference, 2016. Additional past activity has included associate editor of Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series C (2007-10) and committee member of the RSS Environmental Statistics Section (2005-9).

Emma McCoy (joined 1998)

Emma is a professor of statistics in the Mathematics Department at Imperial College London where she is currently the Deputy Head of Department. From August she will be taking up the position of Vice-Dean (Education) for the Faculty of Natural Sciences at Imperial.  She holds an MSc in Computational Statistics (1991) from the University of Bath and a PhD in Statistics (1994) from Imperial College London. She has taught a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate courses and supervises PhD and master’s level project students. Her current research interests are in developing time-series and propensity score methodology for robust estimation of continuous treatment effects particularly in a transport setting.

Emma has a particular interest in mathematics and statistics education and is a member of the Royal Society’s Advisory Committee for Mathematics Education (ACME). She is involved in many outreach activities; she has delivered the London Mathematical Society (LMS) popular lecture and is a regular speaker at the Royal Institution’s Mathematics Masterclasses. She is keen to encourage more mathematics undergraduates to consider a career in teaching and has recently established a joint Mathematics with Education BSc which is delivered jointly by Imperial College London and Canterbury Christ Church University.

Emma is currently a member of the RSS Academic Affairs Advisory Group and has represented the RSS at CMS and UUK meetings.

Simon White (joined 2008)

Simon is a senior investigator statistician at the Medical Research Council Biostatistics Unit, University of Cambridge. He completed his PhD (2009) in epidemic modelling of infectious diseases at the University of Nottingham, then became an MRC Career Development Fellow at the MRC Biostatistics Unit (2010-2012). Now, as a senior investigator, he is developing a research group on neuroimaging and cognition, focused on bridging the complex and multivariate aspects of ageing with statistical methodologies. He supervises several PhD students working on the statistical challenges of neuroimaging data, as well as being co-ordinator and examiner for several MPhil courses. He reviews for multiple academic journals, including as a statistical reviewer for the Lancet and Lancet Neurology; and has published in the Society journals (JRSS A). Outside of his academic research interests, Simon is coordinator for the MRC Biostatistics Unit's public engagement activities (in particular the annual Cambridge Science Festival); a volunteer for the Science Media Centre's 'Behind the Headlines' initiative - providing comment on science press releases; and an active STEM Ambassador - going into schools to support and promote statistics.

Simon is an active member of the Society and has been involved in several committees and initiatives. First becoming a member of the East Midlands local group, then joining the committee (2010-2014) and becoming Vice-Chair (2012-2013) of the Young Statistician Section (YSS); where he was responsible for organising the YSS Statistical Showcase, the YSS Pre-Ordinary Meetings (introductory sessions just before the Society's Research Section's Read Paper meetings), working with the Society's 'getstats' initiative, and organising sessions for young statisticians at the Society's Conferences. Simon is currently a member of the Education Committee (2014-present), working to expand the Society's outreach work on statistical literacy. Simon was involved in the Society's Long Term Strategic Review (submissions) and the President's Nominating Committee As well as being involved in Society committees, Simon has been involved in the RSS initiatives such as: the RSS Science Journalism Programme (2014-present) - delivering statistical training to journalists at The Times, the BBC, the Centre for Investigative Journalism; and as a judge for the RSS Journalism Awards (2012-present); and is currently an RSS Statistical Ambassador (2016-present) - supporting the Society's engagement with the media and the wider promotion of statistics.

Amy Wilson (joined 2010)

Amy is a research associate in the statistics of energy systems in the School of Mathematics at the University of Edinburgh. She studied mathematics at the University of Cambridge and has a PhD in statistics from the University of Edinburgh. Before moving back to Edinburgh in 2016, she worked as a research associate at Durham University. Since 2015, Amy has been a committee member of the Statistics and Law Section of the RSS.

Amy's research interests are in the development of statistical methodology for application in practical problems in industry and government. Her PhD was on the evaluation and interpretation of forensic evidence, particularly focusing on models for evaluating traces of cocaine on banknotes. Since 2014, Amy has worked on statistical problems in energy systems. This has included methods for assessing the risk of electricity shortfalls, and the quantification of uncertainty in the outputs of large energy system simulators.

Sharon Witherspoon (joined 2011)

Sharon is currently head of policy at the Academy of Social Sciences and Deputy Chair of the Administrative Data Research Network, convened by the UK Statistics Authority with the support of the ESRC. 

Sharon worked for several years in applied social science research, designing and carrying out survey-based evaluations of government programmes; she was also one of the original research team on the British Social Attitudes survey.  She was at the Nuffield Foundation, a grant-giving endowed charitable trust, for 19 years, first heading its programmes of social research and social policy, and then for three years as director. While there, she led the development of the £19.5m Q-Step programme, funded jointly by the Nuffield Foundation, the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), to improve the number and data skills of UK social science undergraduates.  At the Academy of Social Sciences, Sharon has remained active in promoting better number and data skills for those studying social science, from school through to university. She was awarded an MBE for services to social science in 2008, and received the British Academy President’s Medal in 2011.

Sharon has been active for many years in promoting public benefit research using statistical data. She has worked closely with the RSS on appropriate policies for data sharing and data linking for public benefit research, most recently on the Digital Economy Bill and in promoting access to health data.  Sharon has been active too in promoting better public understanding of the importance of statistics (including involvement in 'getstats' and its successor work at the RSS), and the use of data for public benefit, both through the ADRN and as a trustee of Full Fact, the fact-checking charity.

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