Presidents and Vice Presidents
Our President represents the best of our Society and the discipline of statistics and as chair of our Council, has a decisive influence on our policy and activities.
We now select our Presidents on the basis of their acknowledged statistical achievements and contribution to the progress of the discipline. But before the 1970s our Presidents were not always from the statistical community. Past Presidents have included Prime Minister William Gladstone and social reformer Sir William Beveridge, as well as experts from the field such as William Guy, a 19th century luminary. Go to our Past Presidents page to find out more.
Current President - David Spiegelhalter
David Spiegelhalter is Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk, and chair of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication, at the University of Cambridge.
After undergraduate maths at Oxford and a PhD in statistics at University College London, he taught at UC Berkeley for a year, and then worked at Nottingham University's Maths department for three years in a bizarre job researching computer-aided diagnosis. This led him to join the MRC Biostatistics Unit in Cambridge in 1981, and he was still there 31 years later, which shows a certain dedication, or possibly lack of imagination. Over this period he worked on Bayesian methods in clinical trials, health technology assessment, drug safety, expert systems, Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC), Bayesian inference Using Gibbs Samplinig (BUGS), performance monitoring and so on.
Then in 2007 the University of Cambridge advertised the Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk, and this was too good a chance to miss. Since then he’s focused on public outreach and communication of statistics, and this has been fun and rewarding.
He is now Chair of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication, which attempts to improve the way in which the quantitative aspects of risk and uncertainty are used in society. He gives many presentations to schools and others, advises organisations and government agencies on risk communication, and is a regular commentator on current risk issues. He presented the BBC4 documentaries ‘Tails you Win: the Science of Chance' and the award-winning 'Climate Change by Numbers', and, in a career highlight, in 2011 came 7th in an episode of Winter Wipeout on BBC1.
He has a pile of academic publications, as well as The Norm Chronicles (with Michael Blastland) and Sex by Numbers. He is a fellow of Churchill College Cambridge, and an honorary fellow of the Institute for Risk Management, the Royal College of Physicians, and the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. He was elected fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2005, was awarded an OBE in 2006 and was knighted in 2014 for services to medical statistics.
David has had a long association with the Society; he has presented more papers than anyone else at RSS discussion meetings (formerly known as ‘ordinary meetings’), which, he claims, ‘made my career’. He has served on the Society’s Council as honorary officer for meetings and conference, and is currently an advisor for the Society's statistical ambassadors scheme, which trains career-young statisticians in public engagement with statistics.
Away from work he enjoys being with his family and friends, walks a lot, loves travelling, makes stained glass panels, and used to play surdo in a samba band.
He is @d_spiegel on Twitter and his home page is http://www.statslab.cam.ac.uk/Dept/People/Spiegelhalter/davids.html
Paul Baxter, Vice President for Professional Affairs
After studying for a BSc in Mathematics with Economics and a PhD in Statistics at the University of Essex, Paul joined the School of Mathematics, University of Leeds as a lecturer in Statistics in 2003. He moved to the School of Medicine in 2009 and was promoted to associate professor in Biostatistics in 2011. He is currently programme leader for the MSc in Epidemiology & Biostatistics and is director of classified undergraduate studies for five BSc programmes across a range of disciplines in the School of Medicine.
A chartered statistician, Paul’s research focuses on gaining insight from large and complex observational health data, especially the development and utilisation of latent variable methods and missing data techniques.
Active in the RSS for more than 12 years, Paul is currently chair of the Leeds/Bradford local group (since 2014) and a director of RSS Services Ltd (since 2016). He was previously secretary of the Leeds/Bradford local group (2004-2011), secretary of the Young Statisticians' Section (2008-2011), Guy Lecturer for schools (2011-12), an elected member of Council (2008-2012), chair of the Professional Development Committee (2011-2014) and an associate editor of JRSS-C (2011-2014).
Jennifer Rogers, Vice President for External Affairs
Jennifer is the Director of Statistical Consultancy in the Department of Statistics at the University of Oxford. Before this, she worked at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and during her time there was awarded a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) post-doctoral fellowship to pursue research into developing methodology for the analysis of repeat events in the presence of a potentially informative dropout time. Her work is primarily focused on developing novel statistical methodologies for the analysis of clinical trial data, particularly in the field of cardiovascular disease. Jennifer graduated with a BSc in Mathematics and Statistics from Lancaster University and remained at Lancaster to complete her MSc in Statistics. She has a PhD from the University of Warwick, where she developed models for point processes with cure fractions.
She has been a highly active member of our Society, having previously sat on the West Midlands local group and the Young Statisticians’ Section. She was appointed as the Guy Lecturer in 2014 and has been a Royal Statistical Society Council member since 2015. She has also held the position of Honorary Officer for Meetings and Conferences.
Jennifer is an experienced science presenter and can regularly be found talking all things statistics in schools, museums, theatres and pubs, including being a regular speaker for Maths Inspiration. Notable media appearances include the BBC production ‘Long Live Britain’ and the ITV documentary ‘Mystery Map’, as well as many interviews on BBC Radio.
Guy Nason, Vice President for Academic Affairs
Guy is Professor of Statistics and Director of the Institute for Statistical Science at the University of Bristol. He obtained his BSc and PhD from the University of Bath and the Diploma in Mathematical Statistics from the University of Cambridge. He has held academic appointments at the Universities of Bath and Chicago and was Head of the School of Mathematics at Bristol from 2008-12.
His research interests are in time series analysis, multiscale methods, network time series, energy and official statistics and he was awarded the 2001 Guy Medal in Bronze from the Royal Statistical Society for his work on wavelets in statistics. He is currently Associate Editor of Biometrika (since 2008) and Applied Computational Harmonic Analysis (since 2012) and was previously AE for Series B of the Society's Journal, Statistica Sinica and Computational Statistics.
He has been an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Advanced Research Fellow (2000-5), an Established Career Fellow from 2013 and was a member of the EPSRC Strategic Advisory Team in Mathematics (2007-10).
For the Royal Statistical Society he served as an Avon Local Group Committee Member (1992-5) and Secretary (2000-1), Research Section Committee Member (1996-9) and Secretary (2002-4), elected member of Council (2004-8) and served on Finance Committee. He was the Programme Committee Chair for the Society's 175th Anniversary Conference in Edinburgh in 2009.
He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications, an Elected Member of the International Statistical Institute and member of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, the Bernoulli Society and the International Association for Official Statistics.
Sharon Witherspoon, Vice President for Education and Statistical Literacy
Sharon Witherspoon is Head of Policy at the Academy of Social Sciences. She also currently sits on the Senior Salaries Review Board, where she is involved in a major review of judicial salaries, and is a Trustee of Full Fact.
Sharon worked for several years in applied social science research, designing and carrying out evaluations of government programmes in the 1980s, and serving as part of the original research team on the British Social Attitudes survey. She was at the Nuffield Foundation, a grant-giving endowed charitable trust, for 19 years, first heading its programmes of social research and social policy, and then for three years as Director. While there, she led the development of the £19.5m Q-Step programme, funded jointly by the Nuffield Foundation, the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), to improve quantitative research skills for UK social science undergraduates.
She was awarded an MBE for services to social science in 2008, received the British Academy President’s Medal in 2011, and was awarded an honorary doctorate by University College London in 2015 for services to social sciences and law.