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New Zealand Statistical Association Newsletter 58
At the NZSA 2003 Conference dinner, David Vere-Jones, Alastair Scott and George Seber were inducted as life members of the NZSA. David and Alastair were present to receive their awards, with characteristic humility. As Professors at leading New Zealand Universities, all three have made a huge contribution towards fostering the next generation of statisticians, and have drawn visiting academics, practitioners and students to New Zealand, as well as making major contributions of published work in the international statistical community. In presenting the awards, Steve Haslett noted that they were very much overdue, as no life members had been appointed since 1984.
David Vere-Jones is Emeritus Professor of Statistics at the School of Mathematical and Computing Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington. During the course of his long and distinguished career, he has made outstanding and fundamental research contributions in probability, statistics and the mathematical sciences. His contributions are characterised by their clarity, depth and insight, and have typically led to important new research developments. His research in Markov chain and point process theory have led to his path-breaking work on earthquake modeling which is at the forefront of current international research in the area. He has also made important and far-reaching contributions to the directions of statistical and mathematical education both in New Zealand and internationally. The hallmarks are clarity of vision, strong sense of purpose, and a concern that the local mathematical community realizes its proper potential. David served as President of NZSA 1981-83, and takes an ongoing and active interest in statistical education. He has received numerous international awards and has published three books and around 100 academic papers. He has been a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand since 1982. A symposium was held in his honour at Victoria University in April 2001, and he was presented with the Festschrift "Probability, Statistics and Seismology" (J. Appl. Probab. Special Volume 38A (2001)).
George Seber is Emeritus Professor of Statistics at Department of Statistics, University of Auckland. He has written prolifically: ten books, many of which have gone to several editions, and numerous research papers. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. Since he began his PhD in Statistics at Manchester University he has been extensively involved with mathematical and statistical consulting. Over the last 30 years at Auckland he has helped build the Statistics section of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and taken it through to the formation of a separate Department of Statistics. He has had a longstanding interest in the secondary school mathematics and statistics syllabuses. However, despite the breadth of his contribution from linear models, multivariate statistics, linear regression, non-linear models, to adaptive sampling, he is perhaps still best known internationally for his research on the estimation of animal abundance. George has contributed widely to the New Zealand statistical community and to NZSA.
Professor Alastair Scott (left above) has been at the Department of Statistics at the University of Auckland since 1972. Previously he had graduated PhD from the University of Chicago, and taught at the London School of Economics. Before and since his return he has written seminal papers on the links between time series and sample surveys, particularly in relation to improved estimators for repeated sample surveys, and on the analysis of survey data. More recently his interest has focused on the design and analysis of retrospective studies, extending classical results for case control studies. Alastair has served on the Executive Committee of NZSA and was President for 1989-90. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, the American Statistical Association and the Institute of Mathematical Statistics.
NZSA Campbell Award 2003
The 2003 Campbell Award was made to Harold Henderson, a statistician at AgResearch, Ruakura Agricultural Centre in Hamilton. Harold is a well known personality in NZSA – usually seen at the working end of his camera during Association functions. He has a BSc with First Class Honours from Massey University, and a PhD in Biometry, Cornell University, USA with Dr S R Searle. He has worked as Statistician at what is now AgResearch, at Ruakura Agricultural Centre since 1979 (over the period of several restructurings). He retains strong links with Waikato University through the Waikato Centre for Applied Statistics and the Department of Statistics. He has received a range of awards including New Zealand National Research Advisory Council Post-graduate Fellowship, Prince and Princess of Wales Science Award from the RSNZ, and has recently been the Bevan Werry Memorial Speaker at NZ Association of Maths Teachers.
It is not however just the awards and academic qualifications which are the reason that Harold has received the Campbell Award. Harold has been a stalwart in the Association as its President 1993-5, Joint Editor of Newsletter 1989-1993, and he continues a very active role within the Executive both as a member and as Membership Secretary. Harold was also General-Secretary for the joint International Biometric Society/NZSA Conference held in Hamilton in 1992.
All this he has carried out willingly and with wonderful spirit. These academic, service and personal aspects taken together are the basis for his Campbell Award.
Campbell Award Criteria This award was initiated in 1999 to promote statistics
within NZ and to recognise an individual’s contribution to the promotion
and development of statistics. The first recipient was Stan Roberts. Stan
will be remembered most recently for his efforts in the NZ statistics
history project. The award was given to him at the conference in
Wellington in 1999. The second recipient was Murray Jorgensen and the
award was given to him at the conference in Christchurch in 2001. The criteria for the award are: publishing the best, recent, original statistical
research undertaken within NZ, or, making an outstanding contribution to statistical
education, or, playing a key role in consulting on a major,
innovative research project that has direct relevance to NZ, or, making a significant contribution to promoting
statistics within NZ. One point worth noting is that the award may only be
given to fully paid up members of the NZSA. All membership categories are
eligible. This could be a way of encouraging new members - promise new
members that they may one day be given an award! Jennifer Brown
This award was initiated in 1999 to promote statistics within NZ and to recognise an individual’s contribution to the promotion and development of statistics. The first recipient was Stan Roberts. Stan will be remembered most recently for his efforts in the NZ statistics history project. The award was given to him at the conference in Wellington in 1999. The second recipient was Murray Jorgensen and the award was given to him at the conference in Christchurch in 2001.
The criteria for the award are:
publishing the best, recent, original statistical research undertaken within NZ, or,
making an outstanding contribution to statistical education, or,
playing a key role in consulting on a major, innovative research project that has direct relevance to NZ, or,
making a significant contribution to promoting statistics within NZ.
One point worth noting is that the award may only be given to fully paid up members of the NZSA. All membership categories are eligible. This could be a way of encouraging new members - promise new members that they may one day be given an award!
Proposal to honour members of the NZSA as Fellows
At the recent AGM a proposal that the Association adopts the principle of electing members "of established reputation who have made outstanding contributions in some aspect of statistical work" as Fellows of the NZSA was presented. After much discussion the motion was modified and the following amended version was agreed to: "That this AGM
1. Adopts the principle of recognising members "of established reputation who have made outstanding contributions in some aspect of statistical work";
2. Requests that the Executive of the NZSA draft a set of Rules and Procedures to put this into effect;
3. Requests that the draft rules and procedures of 2 above be circulated to members prior to the next AGM when they shall be considered for adoption."
In bringing forward the original proposal I was aware that other statistical bodies recognise the achievements and contributions of their members by means of Fellowships, e.g. ASA and IMS. Each year, ASA members nominate their peers as fellows to recognize "members of established reputation who have made outstanding contributions in some aspect of statistical work". With IMS, candidates "shall have demonstrated distinction in research in statistics or probability, by publication of independent work of merit", although they may waive this qualification in the case of a candidate of "well-established leadership" whose contributions to the field of statistics or probability other than original research shall be judged of equal value; or "whose work has contributed greatly to the utility of and the appreciation of these areas". The proposal that was brought forward was to not necessarily regard academic research contributions as a sole criterion for election, but to consider other more general criteria, along the lines of the ASA procedure.
Other NZ societies that honour their members by means of Fellowships include the NZ Mathematical Soc, NZ Computer Society, NZ Inst of Chemistry, NZ Inst of Physics, InternetNZ, NZ Soc of Horticultural Sci, The NZ Inst of Agricultural Sci, Inst of Professional Engineers NZ, Human Resources Inst of NZ, NZ Psychological Soc, Inst of Chartered Accountants, and NZ Inst of Food Sci and Technology.
During the discussion at the AGM it was suggested that the term "Fellow" was sexist. Female fellows have been elected to many of the aforementioned NZ societies in recognition of their "outstanding and significant contributions" and personally I am not aware of any concern outside of NZSA over the use of this well-established terminology.
I would like to raise some discussion on this issue and attempt to get the opinion of members at large as to how best to recognise the efforts and achievements of the Association’s members. If not through Fellowships, then what other mechanism should the Association consider? Once we have some alternatives then one way to progress the matter may be to conduct a poll of members.
The Meaning of Fellow
I was interested to read the suggestion that the word fellow was sexist. I hadn't thought myself that it referred to one sex only - it seems it can mean a boy or man (along with plenty of other non-sexist meanings) and the derivation has no obvious sexist connotation - see below from the online Merriam-Webster dictionary.
Main Entry: fel·low
Usage: often attributive
Etymology: Middle English felawe, from Old English fEolaga, from Old Norse fElagi, from fElag partnership, from fE cattle, money + lag act of laying
Date: before 12th century
1 : COMRADE, ASSOCIATE
2 a : an equal in rank, power, or character : PEER b : one of a pair : MATE
3 : a member of a group having common characteristics; specifically : a member of an incorporated literary or scientific society
4 a obsolete : a person of one of the lower social classes b : a worthless man or boy c : MAN, BOY d : BOYFRIEND, BEAU
5 : an incorporated member of a college or collegiate foundation especially in a British university
6 : a person appointed to a position granting a stipend and allowing for advanced study or research
New Zealand Science and Technology Bronze Medallist
A brief citation
Professor Hunter served on the Royal Society of New Zealand Interim Council in 1997 and then was elected for two terms, 1998-2000 and 2000-2002 on the Council while representing the Mathematical and Information Sciences Electoral College. During this time as Chair of the RSNZ Committee on Mathematical and Information Sciences (1997-2002) he chaired (1997-98) a major review on the state of the Mathematical Sciences in New Zealand. The review involved presentations to the foresight exercise; surveys of universities, polytechnics, research organizations, professional associations and business and industry user groups; workshops throughout the country in five locations; the production of a major report for the Ministry of Research Science and Technology; and the dissemination of the results through a variety of presentations and lectures. In his capacity as Chair of the RSNZ Committee on Mathematical and Information Sciences he has also highlighted concerns over the funding of these sciences in the tertiary sector in various submissions and articles.
He served as President of the NZ Statistical Association over the period 1995-97 and was elected a Fellow of the NZ Mathematical Society in 2002 in recognition of his contribution to mathematics and professional standing in the New Zealand mathematical community. He is also a long-standing member of the Operational Research Society of New Zealand.
In addition he was the Founder and Foundation President of the North Shore Branch of RSNZ. In 1999 he represented the RSNZ at the World Conference in Science.
For his professional contributions to the mathematical and information sciences community, he has served as Dean of the Faculty of Information and Mathematical Sciences (1995-97) and Head of the Institute of Information and Mathematical Sciences (1998-2001) at Massey University.
We wish to nominate him for his exemplary service and contributions over an extended period to the mathematical and information sciences community in New Zealand.
Congratulations to those who received Marsden Fund Awards in this year's round announced on 11 September. They include NZSA members Rachel Fewster (University of Auckland) and Brian Easton.
Rachel Fewster's award is for "Stochastic modelling of rat invasions among islands in the New Zealand archipelago". The project will use genetic samples of Norway rats from clusters of islands to estimate current rates of interbreeding between different island communities. Rats are known to travel to islands under their own steam, but we don't know how often this occurs or what the factors are that make islands vulnerable or immune. The eventual aim is to identify islands that could be safe from rat reinvasions, so that the current rat populations can be eradicated and the islands established as conservation reserves.
Brian Easton's is for "Diminishing distance: New Zealand in a globalising world". From his proposal, "Globalisation has shaped the world economy for the last two centuries. It also has shaped New Zealand, as for instance when refrigeration, together with steam ships and telegraph, led to a New Zealand economy based on pastoral farming selling to Britain. While there was a period of stagnation in the globalisation process in the middle of the twentieth century, innovations such as containerisation and mass air travel revitalised the globalisation pressures after the Second World War. More recently, the information and communication technology revolution has transformed access to information and simplified international contacts. Among the consequences of these changes have been an acceleration of globalisation with less restricted trade in more goods and services, foreign investment and capital flows, the potentiality for substantial human migration (as well as the huge tourist industry), a revolution in information access, and the growth of institutions such as the IMF and the WTO which attempt to regulate international economic activity. Local cultures and the nation state are being transformed. This project will trace these impacts on New Zealand in the past, and today, looking forward to the way globalisation will impact on the future, while contributing to international scholarship on the economics of globalisation." He comments "It does not include any inferential statistics, although I am hoping to construct some measure of distance through time."
Other recipients who are well known in the statistical community include John Butcher (Auckland Mathematics and Computation Ltd), Vernon Squires (Department of Mathematics and Head of the CASM Unit, University of Otago) and Hamish Spencer (Department of Zoology, University of Otago).
Professor Mike Steel (right), University of Canterbury, is one of two recipients of a Maclaurin Fellowship for 2004. The Fellowship is offered annually to enable full-time research. It was set up two years ago, and is funded by the New Zealand Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (NZIMA), one of the government's new 'Centres of Research Excellence' based in Auckland. Last year's award was to Prof Rod Downey (VUW). This year two awards were made - one to Mike, and one to Dr Rod Gover (U. Auckland).
Mike receives a NZ$160,000 grant over 14 months (the term is extended since he has a 0.15 FTE involvement in Marsden on a different grant), commencing in February 2004, on "Random discrete structures with applications in evolutionary biology".
He will investigate how random processes can help us understand some complex problems in evolutionary biology, specifically:
These topics will involve the use of a range of tools from stochastic process theory - particularly random-graph theory, martingales, Markov processes, information theory, coupling, etc.
Much of this work will involve close collaboration with some leading probability theorists from Berkeley and Stanford, as well as a series of visits by researchers to U. Canterbury. He will also make several visits to researchers next year, starting with a trip to China in February, followed by visits to Canada, USA, UK, Sweden, Germany, and Israel.
The NZIMA also funded us this year for a 1-year programme called "Phylogenetic Genomics", providing $171,000 for two 6-month postdocs, 3 MSc students, and funding of conferences and workshops. This programme has been really successful.
Mike Steel directs the Biomathematics Research Centre, and is Professor in the Mathematics and Statistics Department of University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand. He is currently a program associate of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (Evolutionary Biology) and an Associate Editor of Systematic Biology. He is also on the editorial board of Journal of Computational Biology, and is a principal investigator and founding member of the Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution, and the NZ Institute of Mathematics and its Application.