Associate Professor Sue Finch is a statistical consultant and Deputy Director of the Statistical Consulting Centre within the School of Mathematics and Statistics. A great deal of her work involves helping people with answering questions using data. This might sound very general – and it is – Sue collaborates on designing, analysing and interpreting data-based research.
Sue Finch's website: https://blogs.unimelb.edu.au/sue-finch/
What was your relationship with maths and stats like in school?
I was very fortunate to have two excellent, thoughtful and patient teachers in my final years of high school. They encouraged everyone to pursue their interests in maths and statistics.
What do you think is an important skill for a statistician?
A statistician needs to be curious about the world, to follow leads and ask lots of questions.
What is your favourite statistical quote?
One of my favourite quotes is from John Tukey: “The best thing about being a statistician is that you get to play in everyone’s backyard.” (John Tukey was a statistician who made important contributions to practical statistical methods, and he was right about that.)
What are you most proud of achieving in your career so far?
Projects which have a social impact are always satisfying to work on. For example, I was part of the team of statisticians that worked on a legal case (called a class action) against Johnson & Johnson, and Ethicon. The statistical work was important in the judge’s ruling in favour of the 1,350 women who brought the case against the companies.
What does a typical day as a statistician look like?
I’m not sure that I have a typical day. One of the things I enjoy is the wide variety in my work. I often have meetings with collaborators to discuss projects. In some projects I work with other statisticians. Some days I work on visualising data and running analyses, and on other days preparing reports and explanations for my collaborators. My work can also involve teaching and giving presentations.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I recently finished reading Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman. It’s a refreshing perspective with a positive message. You might like to check it out.