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Mark Dawkins Graduation

Mark Dawkins takes his Honours thesis to Canada

11 July 2018

Mark Dawkins is travelling to Vancouver in July to present the findings of his Honours thesis at the Joint Statistical Meeting (JSM), run by the world’s largest community of statisticians, the American Statistical Associationi.

It’s a remarkable feat for someone who only this week graduates from the ANU with a Bachelor of Science (Mathematics) / Bachelor of Economics (Economics), Honours in Statistics.

Hailing from Melbourne, Mark’s decision to study at ANU was in large part due to the university’s support for cross-disciplinary study.

“I thought it would be an adventure to move interstate, and the flexible double degree let me study Economics and Science,” he says.

Mark was then able to undertake Honours in a third discipline - Statistics.

“Doing my honours year was my academic highlight … given a whole year to pursue a creative academic project was fantastic.”

In his Honours thesis, Mark uses rigorous statistical inference to help scientists reconcile computer simulation models with real world data, thus making these models more realistic.

“The specific case we used was a model of how bumblebees' social behaviour responds to uncertainty in their environment,” says Mark.

Mark has spent the past 12 months working closely with his Honours supervisors, Dr Anton Westveld and Dr Grace Chiu from the ANU Research School of Finance, Actuarial Studies and Statistics, to formulate his thesis and now turn it into a journal article. His work has left a lasting impression on them both.

“Mark’s research topic is cutting edge and multidisciplinary — very few people in the world have done research in the area,” says Dr Westveld. “And scientists can now employ Mark’s innovation to formally assess the uncertainty in computer simulation model output.”

Drs Westveld and Chiu will now travel with Mark to Vancouver, where Mark will present their work at the JSM conference.

“It is very rare for pre-master’s level students to present, especially if the student isn’t enrolled in North America, so Mark will be one of very few Australian undergraduate students presenting.

“Any exposure as a presenter at the JSM is considered an accomplishment, especially because this year the venue is in one of the world’s best tourist cities so that there may be 7000+ attendees,” says Dr Chiu.

On his return from Vancouver, Mark will commence a graduate job at Quantium, a data analytics firm in Sydney.

For more information on studying Economics and Statistics at ANU, visit:

Flexible Double Degree



i. ASA website

Updated:   20 February 2019 / Responsible Officer:  CBE Communications and Outreach / Page Contact:  College Web Team