Ron Smith (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Edinburgh)
Following a Masters degree in Statistics, I have worked as a statistician within the UK research council sector. We have both government-supported and contract work, so projects cover the spectrum from 'blue skies' research to very specific applications with tight deadlines. My current work is primarily with air pollution studies, using both statistics and environmental modelling, and this work extends to providing scientific support for policy decisions at the European level. Other projects include trends in water quality, root development in agroforestry, prevention of disease spread, and genetic effects in tree plantations a wide spread of environmental applications with differing statistical requirements.
The challenges and attractions of environmental statistics are:
Developing the statistics to tackle the problem, as 'off-the-shelf' answers are almost never adequate
Interacting with people, from the research leader to the visiting overseas postgraduate, as persuasion is vital when working in a team, especially as some may not see statistics as having an important role
Working in an international environment with much of the fieldwork overseas and many colleagues from different countries.