Honours & Awards

The Young Biometrician Award

Co-sponsored by the British and Irish Region of the International Biometric Society and the Fisher Memorial Trust

The British and Irish Region of the International Biometric Society, jointly with the Fisher Memorial Trust, award a prize every two years for young biometricians (no more than 5 years since completing full-time education), who are members of the British and Irish Region of the International Biometric Society. The award will recognise the research of one paper published, or accepted for publication, in a refereed journal. This award comprises a diploma and a prize of £1000. Nominations for the 2023 award have now closed with winners announced below.

2023 Award

We are happy to announce that the winner of the 2023 Young Biometrician Award is Dr Oliver Crook, a Florence Nightingale Fellow (Senior Research Associate) in the Department of Statistics, University of Oxford, for his paper “Semi-Supervised Nonparametric Bayesian Modelling of Spatial Proteomics” (The Annals of Applied Statistics, 2022).

The panel felt that Oliver’s paper was extremely well written, with a clear description of an impressive technical analysis and implementation of complex stochastic modelling.  The paper gave a clear, readable outline of the application area and spatial proteomics, and provided ample justification for the approach.  The modelling required was challenging, but Oliver’s dealt with each issue carefully and thoroughly and the end result was genuinely innovative and, ultimately, should prove useful to biologists – especially as software used in the paper has been included in an existing R package.

The judges also felt that another nominee warranted an honourable mention – namely Dr John Addy, a Statistical Data Scientist, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, for his work “A heteroskedastic model of Park Grass spring hay yields in response to weather suggests continuing yield decline with climate change in future decades” (Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 2022).

The panel agreed that John’s work was a high-quality interdisciplinary paper, with advanced statistical models applied rigorously to an important long-term grasslands data set in the context of climate change.  The findings are clearly explained and the implications for society highlighted – this is likely to be a highly cited paper.

The panel of three judges comprised Professors Rosemary Bailey (University of St Andrews, representing the FMT), Elizabeth Thompson (University of Washington, international judge) and Mark Brewer (BIOSS, representing the BIR).

2021 Award

The 2021 Young Biometrician Awards have been won by Hélène Ruffieux of the MRC Biostatistics Unit, Cambridge University, for her paper "A global-local approach for detecting hotspots in multipleresponse regression" (The Annals of Applied Statistics, 2020), and by Richard Glennie of the Centre for Research into Ecological and Environmental Modelling at the University of St Andrews, for his paper "Open population maximum likelihood spatial capture‐recapture" published in Biometrics (2019). This is the first time this award has been tied, and shared by two individuals.

The panel of judges felt Richard's paper represented a very considerable step forward for capture-recapture models in both theory and implementation. By reframing the spatial capturerecapture problem in terms of hidden Markov models, the paper offers important and novel insights into sources of variation and bias. The authors explained modelling and inference exceptionally clearly, and demonstrated the power of their approach in a fascinating and challenging analysis of jaguar abundance in Belize.

Hélène's paper offered a mathematically impressive, tractable analytic approximation to Bayesian inference in the difficult, highdimensional problem of hotspot detection in statistical genetics, and demonstrated clear improvements over existing approaches. The work combines novel methodological contributions in both model specification and inference, and the judges expressed their admiration for the paper's combination of technical sophistication and practical utility.

The judges also gave an honourable mention to Théo Michelot of the Centre for Research into Ecological and Environmental Modelling, University of St Andrews, for his paper "Inference in MCMC step selection models" (Biometrics, 2019). Théo's paper offered an elegant analogy between habitat selection models and Markov chain Monte Carlo approaches, and an accomplished translation of this big idea into the details of zebra habitat modelling that provided new understanding to this field.

The judges this year were Andrew Mead (Rothamsted Research, representing the Fisher Memorial Trust), Daniel Farewell (Cardiff University, representing the British & Irish Region of the International Biometric Society), and Kerrie Mengersen (Queensland University of Technology, and this year's international judge). The judges were delighted with the high quality of all the entries received. The future of biometry remains very bright!

2019 Award

We are delighted to announce that the BIR-FMT 2019 Young Biometrician Award has been won by Sean Yiu for the paper “Covariate association eliminating weights: a unified weighting framework for causal effect estimation” (Biometrika 2018; 105, 709-722).

The panel also gave honourable mention to Sara Wade for the paper “A Bayesian nonparametric regression model with normalized weights: a study of hippocampal atrophy in Alzeimer’s diseas” (Journal of the American Statistical Association 2014; 109, 477-490) and to Ming Zhou for the paper “Removal models accounting for temporary emigration” (Biometrics 2019; 75, 24-35).

2017 Award

The 2017 Young Biometrician Award has been won by Anaïs Rouanet of the MRC Biostatistics Unit, University of Cambridge, for her paper “Joint latent class model for longitudinal data and interval-censored semi-competing events: application to dementia” (Biometrics 2016; 72: 1123-1135). The Region was delighted that Anaïs was able to join past winners speaking at our regional meeting on 28th November 2017.

The judges commented that “The paper addresses the important issue of cognitive decline and dementia in later life. It deals with longitudinal data, in which the onset of dementia is interval-censored. The paper is both technically impressive and well explained, and complete code is provided to make the methodology accessible to others.” The award includes a diploma and a prize of £1000 and will be presented at a BIR meeting on 28th November.

The panel also gave honourable mention to Emily Dennis of Butterfly Conservation & the University of Kent for her paper “A generalised abundance index for seasonal invertebrates” (Biometrics 2016; 72: 1305–1314), and to David Hughes of the University of Liverpool for his paper “Dynamic longitudinal discriminant analysis using multiple longitudinal markers of different types” (Statistical Methods in Medical Research 2016, epub).

The panel of three judges comprised Professors Rosemary Bailey (University of St Andrews, representing the FMT), Simon Thompson (University of Cambridge, representing the BIR) and Graham Hepworth (University of Melbourne, international judge). The judges commented: "We are pleased to note that there were many more nominations this year than previously. We should like to make clear that new, sound, interesting methodology for a genuine biometrical problem, presented and explained well, was our primary criterion for judging. We did not focus on longitudinal data; nor did we insist on accompanying software."

Young Biometrician Award Rules

  1. The purpose of the award is to recognise and encourage good biometry by career-young biometricians. In this context, biometry is defined as the development of statistical and mathematical methods applicable to data analysis problems in the biological sciences.
  2. The award will normally be open to competition every two years. In the event that it is not given in any normal award year, then it will be available the following year.
  3. The award comprises a diploma and an amount of money, which will initially be set as £1000. In the case of a tie, the prize may be shared.
  4. The award is open to students and biometricians who have worked for no more than 5 years (or full-time equivalent) since completing full-time education. For a PhD, the date of completion will be taken as the date of successful viva. Career breaks due to, for example, but not limited to, maternity, maternity support (paternity), adoption, shared parental leave or military service, do not count towards the 5 years. Please ensure that dates are clearly stated in the application. If in doubt, nominators should contact the Regional Secretary to confirm eligibility.
  5. Applicants for the award must be members of the British and Irish Region of the International Biometric Society at the closing date of the competition. Students must be registered at a UK or Irish University. Non-students must also be currently working in the UK or the Republic of Ireland or, if working overseas, be of British/Irish nationality.
  6. The award will recognise the research of one paper published, or accepted for publication, in a refereed journal. There should normally be an application to biometry within the paper. In all cases only material written in English will be considered.
  7. The work must be formally nominated; self-nominations are not permitted. Nominations should be submitted to the Regional Secretary by the advertised date, in each award year.
  8. The nomination should consist of an electronic copy of the paper and any supplementary material, a statement by the nominator outlining the importance of the paper, and for co-authored papers there must also be a comprehensive statement of the nominee’s contribution to the paper written by the nominator or by a senior co-author of the paper. The nominator should also confirm that the nominee meets the eligibility criteria in rule 4.
  9. The prize-winning piece of work will be selected by a panel of judges, appointed for that purpose by the Regional committee. The panel will include representation from both the Regional Committee and the Fisher Memorial Committee. Co-authors of submitted work will not be eligible as judges.

Previous Young Biometrician Award Winners

2015: David Robertson (MRC Biostatistics Unit, Cambridge) "Correcting for bias in the selection and validation of informative diagnostic tests”, Statistics in Medicine 2015, Vol 34, 1417-1437.

2013: Doug Speed (University College London) "Improved heritability estimation from genome-wide SNPs", Am J Hum Genet 2012, Vol 91(6), 1011-1021.

2011: Rachel McCrea (University of Kent) "Multistate Mark-Recapture Model Selection Using Score Tests", Biometrics 2011, Vol 67(1), 234-241.

Honourable Mentions

2017: Emily Dennis (Butterfly Conservation & the University of Kent) “A generalised abundance index for seasonal invertebrates”, Biometrics 2016, Vol 72, 1305–1314.

2017: David Hughes (University of Liverpool) “Dynamic longitudinal discriminant analysis using multiple longitudinal markers of different types”, Statistical Methods in Medical Research 2016, epub

2015: Roland Langrock (University of St Andrews) "Markov-modulated nonhomogeneous Poisson processes for modelling detections in surveys of marine mammal abundance", JASA 2013, Vol 503, 840-851.

2011: Gurutzeta Guillera-Arroita (University of Kent) "Species occupancy modelling for detection data collected along a transect", Journal of Agricultural, Biological and Environmental Statistics 2011, Vol 3, 301-317.