BSc(Hons), BCom, PhD Auck, A.T.C.L.
Steven joined the Department of Statistics as a lecturer in 2009. He completed his PhD at the University of Auckland, focussing on an ecological application of population genetics to investigate the invasion dynamics of introduced rats on New Zealand islands. He then undertook post-doctoral research at Trinity College in the University of Dublin, designing a methodology to incorporate information from disparate sources characterising a common process. A particular application of this research was to reconstruct the spread of the Neolithic culture across Europe based on archaeological, genetic and linguistic evidence.
Ecological Statistics; Population Genetics; Stochastic Dynamics
I am particularly interested in the application of statistics in the areas of ecology and population genetics. New Zealand is home to an abundance of species found nowhere else in the world, many of which are threatened by the introduction of exotic pests. Generating knowledge in the field of ecological statistics is my contribution to the preservation of our native species. As part of my doctoral research, I became interested in estimating parameters governing the spread of populations using genetic data. This, combined with an amateur interest in archaeology, was an important thread in the work I performed while in Dublin.
All my work has dealt with high degrees of uncertainty, and access to specialist knowledge, which has proven ideal for the application of statistics following the Bayesian approach. While in Dublin I was introduced to means of performing analysis when the likelihood of observed data given a model is intractable, such as using Approximate Bayesian Computation (ABC). ABC is notoriously inefficient however, so I would like to find a middle-ground between adopting a standard parameterised model and using a simulation-based approach for parameter estimation.
Other Contributions to Refereed Journals
Calude, A.S. and Miller, S. (2009) Are clefts contagious in conversation? English Language and Linguistics (13), pp. 127-132