SECS Representatives

Lisa Thomasen

National and Palmerston North Representative

After completing my Master’s in Statistics at the University of Canterbury in 2016, I moved to Palmerston North to start my statistics career at Fonterra’s Research and Development Centre. My role involves providing statistical support to assist in the development of new products and technologies in the dairy industry.

I attended my first NZSA conference in November 2015 where I organised the SECS social event. I became the NZSA SECS representative at the 2016 conference. I am looking forward to bringing some fresh ideas to the NZSA committee and the SECS Network and would love to hear your event ideas and feedback on how the network can best support you.

Devendra Oak

Auckland Student and Early Career Representative

I graduated in Computer Science Engineering in 2009 after which I started working in SAP consulting with Capgemini. Working on an optimization project for a retail client in Finland, I realized my affinity for analytics. I came to new Zealand for my Masters in Analytics with AUT. During my masters I was involved in MINZ as well as NZSA events. I found them to be very useful for networking. I finished my masters in 2016 and currently work with Fonterra as Senior Reporting Analyst in People Analytics and Reporting team. Our team supports the business through reports and insights drawn from the people data. I find people analytics to be a very interesting field and huge potential.

As Auckland representative, I am looking forward to building a good young statisticians’ network, where we can collaborate and learn from each other! Feel free to email me at

Louise McMillan

Wellington Student and Early Career Representative

I completed a Bachelors degree and Masters in Mathematics at Cambridge University in 2006, avoiding statistics as much as humanly possible. I then worked for five years as a technical consultant, working on a very wide range of projects for industries including oil & gas, space, defence and medtech, and during this time I discovered the delights of Bayesian statistics, which won me over to statistics in general. I then decided to study for a Masters in Statistics, and simultaneously to emigrate from the UK, choosing New Zealand for a more easygoing life and easy access to large areas of wilderness.

In the end, the Masters in Statistics led to a PhD, both at the University of Auckland, and during the PhD I also had the opportunity to do some lecturing. Since it turns out I enjoy research, and teaching, and also consulting (which I'm still doing via the UoA Statistical Consulting Centre), I'm planning to stay in academia. I completed my PhD in 2019 and have been working as a postdoctoral researcher at Victoria University of Wellington since March 2019. My research is primarily on animal population genetics methodology and model-based clustering.

Rory Ellis

Christchurch Student and Early Career Representative

Hi, my name is Rory. At the start of 2016 I obtained my Master’s in Statistics from the University of Canterbury. From there, I was offered the opportunity to be an intern at Tait Communications as a Junior Design Engineer for six months. During this time, my work deviated away from the Statistics side, and more towards the Computer Sciences. However I felt that this gave me more of an interest in the Data Sciences. I believe my interest in statistics was first realised when I noticed its importance in sports, which I am very passionate about. From there, I continued to find applications in many other fields which interested me. Weighing up a future in Mathematics, Geography, or Statistics, I decided that Statistics was the career that I desired the most.

After travelling through Europe for three months, I eventually was given the opportunity (given to me through this group) to pursue a PhD in Statistics, using Bayesian Networks in forecasting grape yield, with collaboration from Lincoln Agritech, as well as other partners in Blenheim, and also Australia.

I am looking forward to being the Christchurch rep for this group, as it will give me an opportunity to get to know others who have similar interests with me in this area. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me, and I will be sure to help you in whichever way I can.

Timothy Bilton

Otago Student and Early Career Representative

Hi, my name is Timothy. I obtained a BSc(Hons) in Statistics from Massey University in Palmerston North, after doing a double major in Mathematics and Statistics. Upon entering university, I had no idea as to what subject I wanted to major in, except that it had to be science related. However, after taking a range of first year papers in fundamental science subjects, I found that lab based work was not for me and quickly decided to pursue a career in Statistics.

Recently, my area of interest and research has moved into the ever growing field of statistical genetics. My first exposure to this field came from taking a statistical genetics paper in the second year of my Honours degree. Nevertheless, it wasn’t until I undertook a summer internship at AgResearch that my interest in this area really flourished. Currently, I am a PhD candidate at the University of Otago where I’m working on developing statistical methods for genetic analysis using genotyping-by-sequencing data.