Professor Valerie Isham’s two year stewardship as RSS president comes to an end at midnight, 31 December, 2012, when the current RSS president-elect, John Pullinger, will take on the mantle.
Valerie has helped to consolidate the work of the society during a period of rapid change, including a change of executive director and other senior staff. She has been tireless behind the scenes, ensuring the flow of volunteers into activities and securing honorary officers, and has provided valuable input into thinking about the society’s future financial models. She has also represented the RSS at numerous meetings and events, and maintained relations with a wide variety of stakeholders as well as helping to develop links with new ones.
Talking about her time as president, Valerie said: ‘When I succeeded David Hand, the society had undergone a period of major initiatives and new activities, and had just launched the getstats campaign. Given this, and the constraints on its finances imposed by the global recession, it seemed appropriate to consolidate and build on existing activities rather than launching new ones.
‘Nevertheless, I particularly wanted to give an emphasis to academic affairs as I felt that this area had been rather neglected during recent efforts to promote professional and external affairs. Also, I felt it was important to try to mobilise more of our membership and to develop our links with other learned societies and charities with which we have research, educational or other aims in common, as these would be the best way to further our aims, especially when resources are limited.’
Looking forward, Valerie concluded: ‘For the future, a strategic review of RSS activities is underway with a report due mid-2013, and the current membership survey will provide input on members’ wishes.’
The president of the Royal Statistical Society has a strong influence on the policy and activities of the society, and during her tenure, Valerie has made her own mark, particularly regarding academic affairs. She helped develop the Academic Affairs Advisory Group, represents the society on the Council of Mathematical Sciences and has also been intrinsic in developing its relationship with all the UK’s research councils, meeting regularly with the EPSRC to discuss ways to support statistics following the report of the International Review of Mathematical Sciences in 2010.
Prior to her presidency, Valerie had various roles within the RSS, including chairing the Research Section committee and acting as vice president during the presidencies of Adrian Smith and Robert Curnow. She was also theme director for meetings and conferences as well as vice president for academic affairs.
Outside of the RSS, Valerie has served on many advisory committees and expert groups including official working groups on HIV, foot and mouth disease and the biological impacts of climate change. She has been professor of probability and statistics at UCL since 1992, where she continues to specialise in applied probability and conduct research in areas including point processes, the dynamics of processes on networks, and hydrological applications.
The staff and fellows of the RSS would like to offer the warmest of thanks to Valerie for the work she has done for both the society and for statistics generally, and wish her the very best for her future endeavours.