Te Tari Pāngarau me te Tatauranga
Department of Mathematics & Statistics

Recent News

New book on model averaging

Congratulations to David Fletcher on the publication of his new monograph on Model Averaging, published by Springer. Model averaging is a means of allowing for model uncertainty when analysing data, and is used in a wide range of application areas, such as ecology, econometrics, meteorology and pharmacology. The book is aimed at both statisticians and scientists, and provides a comprehensive overview and comparison of different methods, with over 600 references. The links between Bayesian and frequentist approaches to model averaging are discussed, as are those between methods developed independently in statistics, econometrics and machine learning.

January 2019

Science Wānanga a hit with Wairoa Māori Students

Dr Phillip Wilcox recently led a module on genetics at a Science Wānanga in Dr Wilcox’s hau kainga (home area) of Te Wairoa in Northern Hawkes Bay. Over 50 Māori tauira (students) from Year 7-10 attended the Wānanga. Tauira learnt to extract DNA from strawberries, Māori concepts of inheritance, and the role of indigenous peoples in domesticating food crops. The wānanga was a huge success and feedback from tauira highlighted the DNA extraction exercise as being particularly memorable. Science Wānanga seeks to positively engage tauira in science-related topics, so that they will consider science as a study option and a career path, thus addressing the underrepresentation of Māori in sciences.

January 2019

Early Career Research Award

We are delighted that Fabien Montiel has received the NZ Mathematical Society's Early Career Researcher Award for 2019. The citation noted his "outstanding contributions to the development of mathematical and computational methods in wave scattering theory and his innovative approach to modelling the propagation of ocean waves in ice-covered seas". Congratulations Fabien!

December 2018

Best research paper

Congratulations to Timothy Bilton for picking up the Division of Sciences 2018 award for best research paper by a postgraduate student. Timothy's work helps account for errors in high-throughput sequencing data.

November 2018

CALT Grant to Assess Numeracy

The Committee for the Advancement of Learning and Teaching (CALT) has awarded a grant to Boris Baeumer for his project on ''A Robust Tool to Assess Numeracy Competency for First Year Students''

(Image credit: Heidi de Vries. CC License)

November 2018

Marsden Fast Start for Fabien Montiel

Fabien has been awarded a Marsden Fund Fast Start to study ocean wave and sea ice interaction. Congratulations!

Increasingly energetic swell in the Southern and Arctic Oceans can no longer be ignored in Earth System Models (ESMs) that are used for climate prediction. The goal of Fabien's project is to develop, validate and assimilate modelling of ocean wave interactions with sea ice in the NZESM, to improve forecasts of sea ice extent, thickness and concentration, and their impact of the climate system.

November 2018

Marsden Fund award for Boris Baeumer

Congratulations to Boris for receiving a Marsden Fund award to study boundary conditions for non-local operators.

Non-local differential operators are a common mathematical tool to spatially model the risk of spread of an invasive species, an epidemic, or any other system where the outliers dominate the dynamics of spread. However, boundary conditions for non-local differential operators on a finite domain remain largely unknown. This not only leads to numerical inefficiencies but also hinders the applicability and accuracy of models.

November 2018

David Bryant elected fellow of the Royal Society

David Bryant has been elected as a fellow of the Royal Society, New Zealand read more

November 2018

PhD position

Bryozoans are one of the most mineralogically-complex phyla in the sea. These small colonial invertebrates make hard skeletons from seawater in any of three carbonate minerals, sometimes in various combinations, in response to controls that are intrinsic (phylogeny, development) and extrinsic (environment).

We are looking for a PhD student with a strong background in statistics, mathematical biology, or quantitative environmental or marine science to develop models and statistical approaches that will bring out the best of a large collated database of bryozoan mineralogy. A background in marine or environmental science would be an advantage but is not required; strong quantitative skills are required.

The PhD would be jointly carried out in the Departments of Marine Science (under the guidance of Prof Abby Smith) and Mathematics and Statistics (Dr Peter Dillingham, Prof David Bryant).

For more information contact Prof Abby Smith

Image credit: John Turnbull (CC 2.0)

August 2018

Congratulations Dr Hong

Chuen Yen Hong has been awarded a PhD in Statistics for her thesis "Focussed model averaging in generalised linear models". In focussed model averaging, model weights are typically chosen to minimize the asymptotic mean squared error of the estimate of a parameter of interest. Chuen Yen proposed a new approach which outperforms existing methods in many cases.

July 2018

Congratulations Dr Cao

Zhanglong Cao has successfully completed a PhD in Statistics. In his thesis, "Inference and characterization of planar trajectories", he considered the problem of reconstructing the trajectory of moving object from irregularly sampled GPS data. His solutions to the problem included an adaptive smoothing spline and a Bayesian approach for real-time reconstruction.

July 2018

Simon Marais Maths Comp

The 2018 Simon Marais Mathematics Competition for undergraduate and Honours students is to be held on October 13. Students can enter individually or in pairs, and there is over $100,000 in prize money up for grabs.

If you are interested, please contact your local coordinators by September 21:

Melissa Tacy (Dept of Maths & Stats, Rm 220,

Jörg Hennig (Dept of Maths & Stats, Rm 215,

July 2018

IEJA Honours John Clark

The International Electronic Journal of Algebra has published a volume dedicated to the memory of the Department’s Associate Professor John Clark who died last year. Included is a tribute from Professor Patrick Smith of the University of Glasgow.

Read more

July 2018

Impact of tourism on whales and dolphins

Research led by University of Otago scientists, including John Harraway, has provided evidence that whale and dolphin watching activities can have detrimental effects on the populations they target.

The study focused on populations of spinner dolphins off the coast of Egypt in sites with no tourism, controlled tourist activity, and uncontrolled tourist activity. In the uncontrolled site, in particular, there is great concern that the dolphins' resting patterns are being disrupted.

The study "Behavioural responses of spinner dolphins to human interactions" has been published by Royal Society Open Science

Photo credit: A.Cesario (HEPCA)

May 2018

John Holmes, exceptional PhD thesis

Congratulations to John for having his PhD thesis "Modelling strategies to improve genetic evaluation for the New Zealand sheep industry" added to the Division of Sciences' List of Exceptional Doctoral Theses.

John's work involved assessing the accuracy of animal comparisons (that are required for selective mating practices) when genomic data is incorporated.

March 2018

Welcome to Dominic Searles

We are delighted Dominic Searles has joined us as a Lecturer in Mathematics. Dominic studied mathematics at the University of Auckland and then completed his PhD at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2015. Afterwards, he was a postdoc at the University of Southern California. He and his family have now decided to come back to New Zealand and have swapped the Californian sun for the more moderate Dunedin climate. Dominic's research is in algebraic combinatorics with a focus on Schubert calculus. A warm welcome to you, Dominic.

March 2018