The Plant & Food Research Biometrics Team provides specialist statistical expertise and guidance to scientists working in a wide range of fields. While there is a strong focus on established plant-based research, there is also a growing need for statistical skills in areas such as metabolomics, chemometrics, genomics, psychology and sensory and consumer science.
The Team comprises eleven biometricians with a wide variety of specialist skills and operates from Plant & Food Research sites in Auckland, Te Puke, Palmerston North, Lincoln and Motueka. There are currently two vacancies for tertiary qualified statisticians (or similar) with relevant postgraduate experience in the biological sciences. With well-developed interpersonal skills and a proven ability to work collaboratively, you’ll be excited by the opportunity to support and facilitate quality science in areas of vital importance to New Zealand’s plant and food based industries. While location at our large research centres at Mt Albert (Auckland) or Lincoln is preferred, other options may be considered.
NZ Mathematics and Statistics Postgraduate Conference
Massive mountains, lush landscapes, a secluded settlement – Cass, home to the homonymous University of Canterbury field station, turned out to be an ideal venue to facilitate fruitful exchange of mathematical ideas among postgraduate students from throughout New Zealand. A group of thirty PhD and Masters students attended this year’s instalment of the annual NZ Mathematics and Statistics Postgraduate (NZMASP) conference, on the 11th to 14th of November. NZMASP2013 was held thanks to generous funding from NZMS, Mathworks, NZ Statistical Association, Royal Society of NZ, SAS, Statistics NZ, and the Mathematics and Statistics departments of NZ Universities.
Besides a wide variety of student talks, which everyone agreed to be of an excellent standard, the agenda featured invited speakers Emmanuel Jo (SAS Institute Inc.), Alex James (Applied Mathematics), Jeanette McLeod (Pure Mathematics) and Elena Moltchanova (Statistics). Students benefited from the opportunity to network with young and established researchers, to chair sessions, and to present their research in front of a supportive audience. The invited speakers even provided detailed written feedback on the contributed talks for the speakers to put into practice at future presentations.
One highlight, which isolated Cass had to offer, was the view of the stars on a clear night. Imagine a bunch of excited mathematicians spotting satellites, observing shooting stars and identifying brightly shining planets – made easy with augmented reality star maps on smartphones!
Congratulations to this year’s winners of the four prizes for the best talks, Jennifer Creaser, James Dent, Katie Sharp and Timm Treskatis. The conference organisers, Peter Jaksons, Nick Brettell, James Dent and Rachelle Binny (postgraduate students from the University of Canterbury), did a great job running a conference that never went behind schedule. Next year’s NZMASP conference, to be hosted by students from the University of Auckland, will be awaited with much anticipation.
Timm Treskatis (University of Canterbury)
ERA, RAE, PBRF – anyone for acronym bingo? As some readers may recognize, they all relate to research assessment schemes. Success in such activities is becoming increasingly important to secure research funding (and in some cases to maintain employment!). A variety of dimensions of research output, impact and recognition are taken into account for these types of evaluation. For those aiming high, receipt of research awards are pure gold. However, until recently, statisticians in New Zealand were at a distinct disadvantage in gaining such recognition in comparison to researchers in other scientific disciplines. There was only one national award targeted exclusively at statisticians, the New Zealand Statistical Association’s Campbell Award. Moreover, that was not awarded every year, and was not specifically a research award, being available also for prolonged achievement in areas like statistics education and promotion of statistics.
Things changed from 2013, with the New Zealand Statistical Association (NZSA) establishing two new research awards. The Littlejohn Research Award recognizes excellence in research, based on publications during the five calendar years. It is named in commemoration of Roger Littlejohn, who worked as a biometrician for nearly 30 years, and who was a stalwart of the NZSA. The Worsley Early Career Research Award recognizes outstanding recent published research from a New Zealand statistician in the early stages of their career. It commemorates Keith Worsley, a world leader in the statistical analysis of functional and structural brain imaging data.
The inaugural research awards were presented at the conference dinner for the joint NZSA-ORSNZ (Operations Research Society of New Zealand) meeting in November 2013, in Hamilton. The Littlejohn Research Award was won by Professor Richard Barker (University of Otago), for his outstanding work in ecological statistics (in particular, with capture-recapture models) and the Worsley Early Career Research Award by Dr Ting Wang (University of Otago) for her excellent research in statistical geophysics. John Harraway received the Campbell Award for his a remarkable and ongoing contribution to statistics teaching and learning. John is also from the University of Otago – it’s obviously something in the air down there!
Lastly, for anyone who did try their hand at deciphering the acronyms, ERA is Excellence in Research for Australia; RAE is the British Research Assessment Exercise; and PBRF is the New Zealand Performance Based Research Funding.
Martin Hazelton, NZSA Awards Convenor
For more information of the NZSA honours visit: http://stats.org.nz/honours
The Operations Research Society of New Zealand (ORSNZ) and the New Zealand Statistical Association (NZSA) held a joint conference at the University of Waikato (November 2013). This well attended and very successful conference covered practical and theoretical aspects of operations research and statistics. A gallery of photos (kindly snapped by Harold Henderson) is available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/111101747@N06/.
The NZSA’s 2013 AGM was held on Tuesday November 26 at the University of Waikato during the joint NZSA+ORSNZ conference. Reports from the various NZSA officeholders and committees are available at http://stats.org.nz/archive/agm-reports.
Victoria University of Wellington
Dates have tentatively been set for this year’s NZSA conference, which again will be joint with ORSNZ. A reception is planned for the evening of Sunday 23 November, followed by 2 1/2 days of talks.
More information to come!
Last Modified: Wednesday, 18th September 2013