Te Tari Pāngarau me te Tatauranga
Department of Mathematics & Statistics

Recent News

Student award

Congratulations to Timothy Bilton who recently won the student prize for his talk at the MapNet2017 conference. Timothy's talk was entitled "Constructing linkage maps using low coverage sequencing data for multi-family full-sib populations".

November 2017

Networking at the World Statistics Conference

Matt Parry and John Harraway recently represented the Department at the ISI World Statistics Conference in Marrakech, Morocco. Matt organized and spoke at a session on applications of scoring rules and chaired a session on 'Models and Visualization for Exploratory Analysis of Big Data'. John chaired a number of meetings related to the International Statistical Literacy Project.

July 2017

John Clark

The Department is deeply saddened to report the recent death on July 15 of Associate Professor John Clark. John was a long serving member of the Department having been appointed in 1970 and having retired in 2013.

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July 2017

Maryam Mirzakhani, Fields medalist, dies at 40

Maryam Mirzakhani, the world’s first woman to win the Fields Medal, passed away on July 15 after a four-year battle with breast cancer. She was only 40. See here or here for information about her life and work.

Image credit:By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use,

July 2017

Early Career Research Awards

The outstanding work of Ting Wang and Tilman Davies has seen them both receive Early Career Research awards from the University of Otago. Congratulations to both!

July 2017

Welcome to Melissa Tacy

We are thrilled to welcome Melissa Tacy to the Department as a Lecturer in Mathematics. Melissa's research lies within the intersection of microlocal analysis, semiclassical analysis and harmonic analysis, and is particularly focused on quantum chaos. Most recently, Melissa was at the Mathematical Sciences Institute at the Australian National University.

July 2017

Lenette's retirement

Congratulations to Lenette Grant on her retirement. Lenette first started working for the University in 1964! She will be sorely missed by us all.

June 2017

Top referee

Boris Baeumer has received a citation for Excellence in Refereeing by Water Resources Research, the top journal in hydrology.

June 2017

Desmond Sawyer

The Department is saddened to note the passing of Desmond Sawyer, a former Chair of the Department, on 29 April.

Desmond served Otago well over three periods. He first arrived in Dunedin in 1948, after graduating MA from Cambridge in 1947 and winning the very prestigious Adams Prize the same year. As lecturer he joined three other members of staff in running a large number of courses with an obvious heavy teaching load and little time for research.

In 1952 he moved to University College of the Gold Coast (now Ghana) for two years of very productive research in convexity and the geometry of numbers, before coming back to Otago, gaining a Readership and shortly after the Chair of the Department at the age of 33.

After increasing involvement in administrative matters, Desmond resigned in 1964 to move to the new University of Waikato as Professor of Mathematics and Assistant Vice-Chancellor.

Finally Desmond returned to Dunedin in 1970, now as Professor of Pure Mathematics and Chair of the Department. He oversaw a rapid expansion of both student and staff numbers, and successfully met the challenges that this entailed while still maintaining a full teaching load.

Desmond retired in 1984.

May 2017

National maths competition a family affair

A story on the bulletin board outlines the good work of Warren and Chris Palmer putting together the Junior Maths Competition.

May 2017

Yu Yang awarded honours scholarship

Congratulations to Yu Yang, who has been awarded an honours scholarship from the Australasian Region of the IBS.

April 2017

Sports predictions

Benoit Auvray's application of statistics to the prediction of sports results was recently featured in the Otago Daily Times. Benoit is a Senior Research Fellow in the Quantitative Genetics Group, leading a project to develop a new genomic evaluation system for NZ sheep. The article, however, focuses on his work as director and data scientist at Iris Data Science, a small data science company based in Dunedin.

January 2017

NZMS Research Award

Congratulations to David Bryant for being joint winner of the national NZMS Research Award. David received the award "for work developing mathematical, statistical and computational tools for evolutionary biology, and work drawing on evolutionary biology to develop new theories in mathematics". The annual award was instituted in 1990 to foster mathematical research in New Zealand and to recognise excellence in research carried out by New Zealand mathematicians.

December 2016

Alastair Lamont Highly Commended Talk

We congratulate Alastair Lamont on being joint runner-up in the recent NZ Statistical Association student talk competition. Alastair's talk was entitled 'Estimation of quantitative genetics parameters in partially-genotyped populations'.

December 2016

Postgraduate conference

The NZ Maths & Stats Postgraduate conference was held in Queenstown from November 21-23. This year it was organised by students from our Department. It was a hugely enjoyable experience for those involved. Thanks to the contributors for stimulating talks and discussions, and special thanks to the organisers Paula Bran, Chuen Yen Hong, Jerome Cao, Vee Liem Saw and Johannes Mosig. Chuen Yen also won the prize for the best Statistics talk. Photo: Some of the Otago contingent at NZMASP 2016.

November 2016