BioSS at the Royal Statistical Society International Conference 2023

29 September, 2023
SB on stage


A selection of us attended the Royal Statistical Society Conference on 4-7 September in Harrogate. The conference attracted more than 600 attendees from over 30 countries providing one of the best opportunities for anyone interested in statistics and data science to come together to share knowledge and network. 

Sarah Brocklehurst (pictured left, presenting “Challenges of Continuous Monitoring in Agricultural Systems”) and Katharine Preedy (pictured below) amongst other worldwide experts in the field of agricultural statistics presented their work in a session entitled “Statistical challenges and opportunities for modern agricultural and environmental research” organised by Ian Hunt (University of Tasmania).



KP speaking to audience

Katharine Preedy presenting “Using the haystack to find the needle: the importance of statistical rigour in a world of big data.”

As well as the great work of our colleagues, Andrew Mead (Rothamsted) highlighted the major role of BioSS in the history of agricultural and environmental stats. BioSS proudly continues to be at the forefront of the discipline and our director Mark Brewer together with Mead, Pete Henrys (CEH) and Ben Marchant (BGS) is putting together a much-needed UK-wide network of statistical practitioners in the agri-environmental area. The network is organising a conference scheduled for the 31st October and 1st of November, and those interested in attending and/or joining the network should contact Andrew Mead for further details.

Slides by A.M.

Slides from Andrew Mead (Rothamsted) describing the network and the 1st NABES conference.

As part of a session on Spatio-temporal inference in dynamic aquatic environments, Anastasia Frantsuzova presented “Expert elicitation to identify and quantify the effect of several potential strategic conservation measures for selected seabird species.”, describing the important work the Offshore Renewables team is doing for the UKRI ECOWind project which looks at ecosystem change, offshore wind net gain and seabirds.

A.F. slides

Anastasia Frantsuzova cover slides for her talk “Expert elicitation to identify and quantify the effect of several potential strategic conservation measures for selected seabird species.”

Altea Lorenzo-Arribas participated in a panel on research reproducibility and integrity as representative of the RSS council. Former National Statistician Jil Matheson shared the aims and work of the UK Committee on Research Integrity (UKCORI) for which she was appointed to in 2022, and the lively discussion with the audience led by the secretary of the RSS Emerging Applications Section Etienne Roesch (University of Reading, UK Reproducibility Network) focused on the important job for statisticians to train researchers and practitioners from other disciplines to ensure good practice, and the prominent role of the RSS setting professional standards accordingly. Opportunities to learn from other fields were also highlighted.

Reproducibility panel

Altea Lorenzo-Arribas in panel with Jil Matheson (UKCORI), Gabriela Gomes (University of Strathclyde) and Etienne Roesch (University of Reading)

Further highlights from the conference were the Significance lecture “My Enemy's Enemy is My Friend: How Statisticians and Machine Learners Should Work Together to Build a Better World” by Mihaela van der Schaar (University of Cambridge) arguing for the case for Reality-centric AI, and the closing plenary by Fiona Steele (London School of Economics) highlighting the use of “Multilevel Models for Dyadic Data” as a flexible way to study the relationships between pairs of individuals, a technique of particular relevance to the analysis of family interactions data and other applications in the social sciences.

AI talk

Mihaela van der Schaar presenting the Significance Lecture.


As well as the many fascinating talks, we also had plenty of opportunities for networking! We are looking forward to next year’s conference in Brighton and the call for proposals is already open: RSS - RSS calls for session proposals for 2024 Conference


Altea Lorenzo-Arribas and Anastasia Frantsuzova during a conference break.