INTRODUCTION BY DIRECTOR: PROFESSOR DAVID STEEL
The National Institute for Applied Statistics Research Australia (NIASRA) at the University of Wollongong aims to identify Australia as a place where the discipline of applied statistics collaborates with academics and professionals in science, government, business and industry to tackle strategic problems. Methods for obtaining relevant and reliable data and methods that can be used to extract the information and evidence that the data can provide are fundamental in solving important and complex problems facing society. The huge increase in data available in all fields and relating to every issue challenging a modern society means that there are large gaps between the methods needed to fully exploit these data and the methods available to do so. New statistical methods are needed to handle uncertainty and risk in large and complex data structures and to generate knowledge that can be acted upon. NIASRA is undertaking a program of research developing new statistical methods for obtaining and analysing data relevant to agriculture, energy, engineering, environmental sciences, finance, health, medicine, mining, natural resources, and social sciences. The Institute aims to provide leading-edge research and consulting capacity in applied statistics for Australia and our region through the skills and activities of its staff and research students.
NIASRA is committed to developing and applying innovative statistical methods to important problems. It conducts:
- fundamental methodological research;
- industry-focused and contract research;
- major consulting projects;
- professional education and training.
NIASRA’s research is focused in Biometry and Bioinformatics, Environmental Informatics, Survey Methodology, and also research in Statistical Education and Statistical and Mathematical Methodology in Finance. It is led by Director Prof David Steel and includes:
- Centre for Bioinformatics and Biometrics Research – Director Prof Brian Cullis;
- Centre for Environmental Informatics – Director Distinguished Prof Noel Cressie;
- Centre for Sample Survey Methodology – Director Prof Ray Chambers;
- Statistical Consulting Centre - Director A/Professor Marijka Batterham, focussing on support for research within the University in design and analysis.
The institute is a Research Strength of the University of Wollongong and has over 20 academic staff members and 25 research students. It has been successful in developing long-term collaborative partnerships. It has two externally funded research professors: Professor Chambers is funded by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Professor Brian Cullis is funded by CSIRO and the Grains Research Development Corporation. It has formal partnerships with the NZ Ministry of Health and the Australian Market and Social Research Society.
The themes that underpin the research at NIASRA are:
- statistical design - developing efficient methods of obtaining relevant and reliable data in surveys, experiments, and other data collections;
- complexity of data arising from observations in large scale real populations – often involving hierarchical or auto-correlated data - and computational methods to handle such data; and
- working with major organisations on significant problems.
Internationally competitive areas of methodological research include: statistical design - survey and experimental design; analysis of complex data from complex populations - survey, biometric, environmental, longitudinal, spatial, aggregated data, and also combining data; statistical modelling – methods for spatial, temporal and spatial-temporal data, semi-parametric and nonparametric methods, time series, quasi-likelihood, multi-level modelling, Bayesian analysis, and estimating equations; data quality and survey methods - particularly telephone, household, internet and environmental surveys; statistical confidentiality.
NIASRA offers postgraduate and professional education courses and programs that build on our world-class staff, extensive experience and industry collaborations.