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Impact via sponsorship

ACEMS sponsors events that support equity and diversity, early-career researchers and increasing female representation rather than contributing to the general funding pool of an event. The Centre also aims to enable opportunities that would perhaps not be possible within the larger event without ACEMS’ support.

ACEMS asks all those submitting a sponsorship request about what gender equity strategies have been put in place for the event, the gender split of speakers at the event, have they considered providing support for families (such as child care or funding for attendees/speakers to bring dependents), and have they considered other cultural and diversity matters (such as providing space for prayer, or breaks at these times, dietary requirements, and access and mobility requirements). Moreover, the Centre requires all events which it sponsors to have a Code of Conduct and process for the handling of complaints.

During 2021, ACEMS sponsored a small number of online and in-person events that made a great impact on the mathematical sciences community. Below is a brief summary of these events.

The Early Career Statisticians and Students Conference (ECSSC), 26th July 2021 (online)

The Early Career Statisticians and Students Conference (ECSSC) 2021 kicked off a full week of keynote speakers, panel discussions, abstract and poster presentations, and social events on the 26th of July, 2021. The event, previously known as the Young Statisticians Conference, is a forum designed to connect statisticians who are in the early stages of their careers. This year it was entirely virtual for the first time.

Delegates were treated to talks on a wide range of topics covering innovative academic research, solutions developed for industry, and tips for navigating the rigors of study and life on the job.

Keynote speakers with a wealth of experience in their respective fields generously shared their work and wisdom. Peter Taylor of the University of Melbourne discussed modelling the Bitcoin Blockchain. Minh-Ngoc Tran of the University of Sydney made the case for Variational Bayes. Kendra Vant took us through the machine learning techniques she uses to create products at Xero. Paola Oliva-Altamirano shared the lessons she and her team at Innovations Lab (Our Community/ SmartyGrants) have learned in creating text classifiers for machine learning models. And finally, Helena Jia presented an inside look into the complex world of educational survey assessment design and analysis.

Talent and enthusiasm were on full display during the delegate presentations. The line-up of fascinating and conversation-provoking talks provided tough competition for the ‘Louise Ryan Award’ for best oral presentation, named after ACEMS Chief Investigator Louise Ryan. Elena Tartaglia ultimately secured first prize for her talk “Understanding the role of causal inference from observational datasets in developing government policy”. Second prize went to Sharm Thuraisingam for “Surviving a PhD with a toddler during a pandemic” and third to John Warmenhoven for “A non-conventional entry into the world of statistics.”

The newly created ‘Alison Harcourt Award’ for best poster went to Josh Jacobson. Puxue Qiao snared second place and Vanessa Pac Soo was awarded third. Parinaz Mehdipour won the ‘Sue Finch Data Visualisation Award’ for the presentation of data in her talk “Bayesian Within-host Modelling of Red Blood Cell Dynamics and Primaquine-induced Haemolysis in G6PD Deficiency”.

Shawn Lew Wei Hwa won the video competition for his presentation of “Project Guide Me”, an analysis of how well the visually impaired have been able to integrate into Singaporean society.

Despite the virtual setting, there were an abundance of opportunities to connect with other attendees and perhaps even win some prizes. The virtual pub was open for casual chats at the close of the last presentation each day. Delegates networked in breakout rooms, competed in trivia games, and even watched a movie together.

The youngest generation of future statisticians took centre stage during the high school engagement day. Participants got a rundown of the basics of R during an introductory workshop. They heard about the exploits of statisticians working at the ABS, Data61 and NSW Health, and got the chance to win books about statistics and other prizes.

Throughout the conference, there were also panel discussions, information sessions from our sponsors, and a conversation about how the Statistics Society of Australia and the ECSSN could better meet the needs of members. All the while, delegates chatted in the slack channel, punctuating posts with an increasingly creative use of emojis.

An inspiring video interview with the incomparable Alison Harcourt concluded the event.

The ECSSC 2021 could not have been put together without the generous support of our sponsors, in particular of ACEMS. The sponsorship of ACEMS was used for the awards offered to winners of presentation, video and poster competitions, and social events, as well as for Menulog food vouchers replacing the traditional conference dinner. Unredeemed food vouchers were cashed back and used to purchase Statistics and Data Science books for future statisticians involved in the high school engagement day.

A set of rules, responsibilities and proper practice was collected in a Code of Conduct to provide a basis for high standards of ethical conduct throughout the conference. The conference organisers encouraged participants to read the Code of Conduct before the conference started. The members of the Code of Conduct Team created a special Slack channel and encouraged delegates to send direct messages via this channel or to the Team members via e-mail for any complaint arising during the conference. No issues were reported to the members of the Code of Conduct Team during and after the event.

Alison Harcourt during her inspiring interview

ACEMS Associate Investigator Emi Tanaka delivering an introductory workshop on R on High School Day.

International Women in Maths Day event, 13th May 2021, Western Sydney University

This event was held as a hybrid event with in-person and online attendees; about 20 people attended in person and 40 online. This Day is a worldwide celebration of the contribution of Women in STEM, in particular mathematics, and is held annually around Maryam Mirzakhani’s birthday on 12 May.

Maryam Mirzakhani was an Iranian mathematician and a Professor of Mathematics at Stanford University. She was one of the world’s leading experts in geometry and dynamical systems. Her beautiful and astonishing results and her life and career are an inspiration for everyone, women and men, to pursue their dreams in science. She died tragically from cancer in 2017 at the early age of 40.

In 2014, Maryam Mirzakhani was awarded the Fields Medal for her outstanding contributions to the dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces, becoming the first woman, and the first Iranian, to be recognised for her mathematical achievements by this top mathematical prize.

Professor Deborah Sweeney, the Pro Vice Chancellor Research, opened the gathering with an Acknowledgement of Country. Our wonderful keynote speakers delivered really empowering talks about their journeys and how they got to be where they are today.

Dr Luci Ellis (Reserve Bank of Australia), Dr Julia Collins (Edith Cowan University), Professor Mary Myerscough (University of Sydney) and Dr Rosalind Wang (Western Sydney University) gave the invited talks.

The documentary ‘Secret of Surfaces’, on the work of Maryam Mirzakhani was also shown during the evening.

Western Sydney University DVCR Professor Deborah Sweeney opening the event.

In-person attendees at Western Sydney University.

Professor Mary Myerscough from the University of Sydney delivering her keynote address.

Dr Luci Ellis, Assistant Governor (Economic) at the Reserve Bank of Australia, delivering her keynote address..

International Women in Maths Day event, 12th May 2021, University of Western Australia

At the University of Western Australia, Perth, the International Day for Women in Mathematics 2021 was celebrated with 15 female mathematicians from the University of Western Australia, Curtin University, Murdoch University and Edith Cowan University, including honours and PhD students and other mathematicians living in Perth. All attendees enjoyed the opportunity to meet and mingle, and get to know each other by starting with some introductory games involving meeting people you did not know before.

One of the highlights of the meeting was watching the broadcast of Cheryl Praeger’s lecture and award of the inaugural Ruby Payne-Scott Medal, and Cheryl, of course, joined the event after she had completed the lecture and related Q&A.

Discussions and getting to know each other over a Thai take-away dinner completed a very enjoyable evening for all attendees. It was particularly refreshing seeing some younger mathematicians in the gathering and we are hoping to strengthen links to the next generation further.

Many thanks to ACEMS for their generous sponsorship; the event was a great success and provided a wonderful opportunity to nurture support among female mathematical scientists at every level.