Vanessa Cave (Convenor NZSA Awards Committee), Neil Cox, Xun Xiao, Alain Vandal and Beatrix Jones (NZSA President) at the NZSA 2023 Conference where the awards were presented.

We are pleased to announce that the 2023 NZSA Award recipients are Xun Xiao (Worsley Award), Alain Vandal (Littlejohn Award) and Neil Cox (Jean Thompson Award).

Worsley Early Career Research Award:
Xun Xiao (University of Otago)
Citation: Xun is developing a significant research profile, with contributions in applied statistical modelling and statistical reliability. His research utilizes sophisticated statistical models and computational tools to examine the properties of complex physical and biological processes, and to analyse systems that are subject to degradation and failure.

In the nomination for the Worsley award, we ask for the candidate’s best three papers to be highlighted. And I’d like to briefly describe these papers now.

The first of his nominated papers, published in Journal of Quality Technology, considers the detect of change points for the parameters of a gamma distribution. This has a nice connection with the namesake of the award, Keith Worsley, who worked on change points of exponential family distribution.

The second article, published in Computers and Electronics in Agriculture, is concerned with the difficult problem of modelling kiwifruit firmness based on storage times and spectral measurements.

The third article, published in Technometrics, arguably the flagship journal for applications of statistics in industry and engineering, examines the problem of failure monitoring for items with long lifetimes, such as computer hard disks.

Congratulations Xun!
Vanessa Caves, Xun Xiao and Beatrix Jones
Littlejohn Award:           
Alain Vandal (University of Auckland)
Citation: Alain is a collaborative, applied biostatistician working in the broad field of human health. His collaborations in recent years have focused on neuro-rehabilitation, rheumatology and respiratory medicine, with important contributions to public health research such as the Pacific Islands Families Respiratory Study and the Harmonised healthy relationships project.

Alain is committed to ensuring the internal validity of the projects in which he is involved. He is engaged in translating state-of-the-art statistical methods to human health research, whether experimental or observational, and whether focused on explanation or prediction.

A highlight of Alain’s approach as a biostatistician, and a hallmark of excellent statistical practice, is his engagement with the clinical aspects of the research. Those that have heard Alain speak know that he knows almost as much as the clinicians about the clinical side of the research. Alain has many intellectual interests and this curiosity carries over into his professional work and research.

He is a valued member of any clinical trial or biomedical research project.

Congratulations Alain!
Vanessa Caves, Alain Vandal and Beatrix Jones
Jean Thompson Award:
Neil Cox (NeilStat, AgResearch retiree)
Citation: Neil has made a tremendous contribution to the application of statistical methods in New Zealand industries. Neil has been a statistician with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and continuing with the formation of AgResearch. He has collaborated in a wide range of projects including meat quality, deer production, field greenhouse gas emissions, animal behaviour and welfare, pasture management, plant production, animal reproduction, wool production, pest management, water quality, traceability, and defect testing. Since his “retirement”, in addition to his continued collaborations with AgResearch scientists, he has also been collaborating with the likes of Zespri and the Waikato Regional Council.

One of Neil’s strengths has been the way he can precisely and coherently describe the methods used and the meaning of those analyses. Neil’s influence in good research has also been mediated through other statisticians due to his leadership and mentorship within and beyond AgResearch. Something which I have personally have benefitted from tremendously.

I would like to sum up with a quote from one of the testimonials supporting Neil’s nomination: “Through working with Neil, I have learnt so much; his encouragement of statistical thinking and practice has shaped me as a researcher.”

Congratulations Neil!
Vanessa Caves, Neil Cox and Beatrix Jones