Painting above is from "Random Numbers", Peter James Smith (1977). Victoria University of Wellington Art Collection. View entire painting

Notices & News



    Alastair Scott, one of the finest statisticians New Zealand has produced, died in Auckland, New Zealand on Thursday, May 25. He served the University of Auckland with distinction from 1972 to 2005.

    His research was characterised by deep insight and he made pioneering contributions across a wide range of statistical fields. Alastair was acknowledged, in particular, as a world leader in survey sampling theory and the development of methods to efficiently obtain and analyse data from medical studies. His methods are applied in a wide range of areas, notably in public health. Beyond research, he contributed prolifically to the statistical profession in academia, government, and society.

    Alastair was a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, the American Statistical Association, the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, the Royal Statistical Society, and an honorary life member of the New Zealand Statistical Association. In November last year, Alastair was awarded the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Jones Medal, which recognised his lifetime contribution to the mathematical sciences.

    Alastair gained his first degrees at the University of Auckland: BSc in Mathematics in 1961 and MSc in Mathematics in 1962. After a period at the New Zealand Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, he pursued a PhD in Statistics at the University of Chicago, graduating in 1965. He then worked at the London School of Economics from 1965-1972.


    Alastair returned to New Zealand in 1972 to a post in what was then the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Auckland; he and wife Margaret had decided that they wanted to raise their children, Andrew and Julie, in New Zealand. Throughout his career, Alastair was regularly offered posts at prestigious universities overseas, but turned them down. However, he held visiting positions at Bell Labs, the universities of North Carolina, Wisconsin, and California Berkeley in the US, and at the University of Southampton in the UK.

    In 1994, the University’s statistics staff, led by Professor George Seber, had a very amicable divorce from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and Alastair became the head of the new Department of Statistics. He helped set the tone for the department that still exists – hard-working, but welcoming, and social. The Department of Statistics is now the largest such school in Australasia.

    In 2005, Alastair officially retired. A conference in Auckland that year in his honour attracted the largest concentration of first-rank international statisticians in New Zealand in one place at one time. Alastair kept an office in the department and continued writing and advising, coming into work almost every day. Alastair Scott was an influential teacher and generous mentor to several generations of statisticians who valued his sage advice coupled with his trademark affability. Alastair had a full life professionally and personally. He was a wonderful teacher, mentor, colleague, and friend. We will all miss him greatly and we extend our sincere condolences to Margaret, Andrew and Julie, and his family, friends, and colleagues all over the world.

    Ilze Ziedins, Chris Wild, and Chris Triggs, Department of Statistics, University of Auckland



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  • WIMSIG Conference 2017: Celebration of Women in Australian Mathematical Sciences

    24—26 September 2017, University of South Australia, City West Campus, Adelaide


    The Women in Mathematics group of the Australian Mathematical Society is organizing Australia’s first research conference showcasing the research of women in the mathematical sciences. The conference welcomes people of any gender. All the research talks will be given by women. “Mathematical sciences” will be broadly interpreted to include pure mathematics, applied mathematics, mathematical statistics, applied statistics, biostatistics, bioinformatics, mathematical biology, mathematical physics, mathematics in industry, etc.

    Confirmed plenary speakers:

    Professor Kerrie Mengersen (QUT)

    Dr Christine O’Keefe (CSIRO)

    Professor Malabika Pramanik (University of British Columbia, Canada)

    Professor Ami Radunskaya (Pomona College, USA, and President of the US Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM)).


    We are planning special sessions, plenary speakers, a poster session, a conference dinner, a panel on gender equity in the mathematical sciences and beyond, and a professional development workshop. Childcare will be available. We hope to offer some travel support, primarily for students and early-career researchers. Both female researchers and senior leaders (of any gender) in our discipline will find it eye-opening and inspiring to be in a majority-female research environment, even for a few days.

    If you’re considering participating or would just like to be kept informed, please take a moment to fill out the brief Expression of Interest form on the conference website: . That will help us with our planning.

    Registration will open soon, via the conference website.

    We warmly invite you to join us for this unique and exciting conference, which offers opportunities to hear  Australia’s upcoming female mathematicians present their research, to build and extend research collaborations, to develop one’s professional skills, to consider how gender affects the development of mathematical careers, and to network with women in the Australian mathematical sciences.

    Be part of this landmark event!

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  • The Prime Minister’s SCIENCE TEACHER PRIZE

    Nominations close September 2017

    The Prime Minister’s Science Teacher Prize is worth $150,000.

    The recipient will receive $50,000 with no expectations and the recipient’s school will receive $100,000 to use for the development of science*.

    This Prize will be awarded to a permanently appointed registered teacher who is teaching science* to school-age children (in a primary, intermediate or a secondary New Zealand registered school) and who has been in the same role for at least 12 months prior to their nomination.

    * “Science” is taken to include teaching relevant to any of the science, technology, mathematics, pūtaiao, hangarau or pāngarau learning areas of the New Zealand curriculum.

    Nominations close September 2017.               

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  • SEEM 2017 Conference - Statistics in Ecology and Environmental Monitoring

    6 – 8 December 2017, Queenstown, New Zealand

  • Sixth Wellington Workshop in Probability and Mathematical Statistics

    4-6 December 2017, Victoria University of Wellington

More News

Student and Early Career Statisticians

Lisa Hall from Fonterra’s Research and Development Centre, is the Student and Early Career Statistician’s Representative.

Visit the Young Statistician’s page for more details.

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The mission of the NZSA is to lead New Zealand to value and make intelligent use of statistical thinking and good statistical practice.  Join the NZSA today!

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Last Modified: Thursday, 2nd March 2017