Professor Sally Cripps to deliver UOW’s Statistical Science Lecture
Renowned statistician to explore science of uncertainty and how data influences decision making
The science of uncertainty seems an apt topic for these surreal times.
When Professor Sally Cripps delivers the annual Statistical Science Lecture at the University of Wollongong, she will explore how data can help us to make informed decisions when it comes to natural resources and how statistics can help us to understand the science of uncertainty.
Professor Cripps’ lecture, to be held on Wednesday 18 November, is titled Zen and the Art of Bayesian Geology/Hydrology/Ecology. It is hosted by the School of Mathematics and Applied Statistics at UOW and will be held live on campus, while being broadcast virtually through the Statistical Society of Australia.
The Statistical Science Lecture was first held in 2018 and is made possible each year by an anonymous philanthropic donation to the School.
An internationally recognised scholar, Professor Cripps is an expert in Bayesian statistics, a strand of statistical analysis which updates a theory as more information comes to light. Essentially, a probability is influenced by the data that is available but can also be adjusted as additional data is made available.
Professor Cripps said her lecture will focus on how we can best make decisions in an era of uncertainty, using the Bayesian model.
“It’s about the challenges that we face when we try to understand and make decisions in the world of a natural resources.
“The complexity of these systems is far greater than any amount of data we are likely to have. So we need to come up with methods that can both give better predictions and quantify the uncertainty, which is critical for optimal decision making.
“In the area of natural resources statistics plays a vital role, because it is a means of quantifying uncertainty or identifying what we don’t know.”
As Director of the ARC Centre in Data Analytics for Resources and Environments, Professor Cripps said her love of statistics, and understanding the role they play in our world, stems from her lifelong interest in mathematics.
“I have always loved both the elegant simplicity of the language of mathematics, and the problem-solving focus of statistics. I think being a good applied statistician is like being a mathematical engineer. We are trying to solve very difficult problems and our tools are mathematical representations and data analysis,” Professor Cripps said.
“In working on many applied problems, I get to learn about many different scientific issues. To quote a very famous statistician, John Tukey: ‘The best thing about being a statistician is that you get to play in everyone’s backyard’.”
UOW’s annual Statistical Science Lecture showcases the interdisciplinarity and key role a statistical scientist plays in extracting scientific knowledge from data in the presence of uncertainty.
The lecture, believed to be the only one of its kind in the field of statistical science in Australia, was the brainchild of Distinguished Professor Noel Cressie. Professor Cressie is Director for the Centre for Environmental Informatics at UOW.
All are invited to attend the Lecture, which will be held in Building 43 G.01 from 2.45pm on Wednesday 18 November. For more information or to register to attend: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/2020-statistical-science-lecture-tickets-121491374973