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Research Areas

Research Areas


Animal and Plant Demography

Applications of statistics to the population dynamics and distribution of birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, fish, insects and plants (R. AltweggA. ClarkG. Distiller, I. DurbachB. Erni, M. Varughese, V. Visser). The centre for Statistics in Ecology, Environment and Conservation (SEEC) is a research group within the department that focuses, among other things, on demography as an important tool for understanding population ecology.


The application of statistical techniques to problems in astronomy (M. Varughese)

Bayesian Decision Theory

General principles of Bayesian statistical analysis; applications in sequential stochastic optimization and other fields (T.J. Stewart).


Applications of statistics to problems in genetics (M. Lacerda).


Medical applications of statistics (T.T. Dunne, F. Gumedze, M. LacerdaF. Little, SP Silal). The objectives of the Biostatistics Interest group are to develop statistical methodology motivated by medical problems and to provide statistical support to medical researchers.

Data Science

Data science uses computer-intensive statistical methods to identify patterns and make predictions using large volumes of data. Specific interests include statistical and machine learning techniques. Medical applications of statistics (S. ErM. LacerdaF. LittleS. Lubbe, J. Nyirenda, M. Varughese). 

Ecological Statistics

Application of statistics to conservation decision making, climate change, understanding of biodiversity patterns, evolutionary ecology and macroecology(R. AltweggA. ClarkG. DistillerI. DurbachB. ErniL HainesM. Varughese, V. Visser).

Econometric Modelling

Econometric techniques are being used to test theories related to the South African economy in the fields of finance, monetary economics, interest rate theory and stock market research (G.D.I. Barr).

Educational Applications

Statistical examination of data pertaining to schools, disadvantaged students and to science education (T.T. Dunne, Tim Low).

Financial Research

Applied Financial Research into macro-economic and company-specific determinants of Johannesburg Stock Exchange share behaviour. Quantitative Analysis and Risk Management of share portfolios.(G.D.I. BarrD.J. Bradfield, CK Huang).

Gambling Research

Research into Gambling Behaviour and Problem Gambling. Assessment and Treatment of Problem Gamblers. The Statistical theory of Gambling. (G.D.I. BarrL. Scott).

Infectious Disease Modelling 

Application of mathematical modelling and computer simulation to predict the dynamics and control of infectious diseases to evaluate the potential impact of control programmes in reducing morbidity and mortality. (SP Silal)

Longitudinal and Survival Modelling

Longitudinal data analysis, analysis of repeated measures data, generalised linear and non-linear mixed effect models,  models for time-to-event data, joint modelling and causal modelling. (B. ErniF. Gumedze, F. Little,  C. Thiart).

Multivariate Analysis

Multivariate distribution theory; multidimensional scaling, correspondence analysis and cluster analysis, robust regression procedures, classification and discrimination procedures, graphical displays of multivariate data, structural equation modelling. (S. ErS. LubbeC. Thiart).

Operational Research and Multicriteria Decision Support

The development of interactive decision aids, to assist in the analysis of decision problems with multiple and conflicting objectives, with particular reference to natural resource management and others); combinatorial optimization; application to decision making and planning in private and public sectors (I. Durbach, J. Nyirenda, L. ScottSP SilalT.J. Stewart, J Stray, N Watson).

Optimal Design

The design of experiments in agriculture, biology, industry and medicine which are in some sense optimal (L.M. Haines).

Social Science Statistics

Research surveys; local government support; analysis of poverty and development (T.T. Dunne, L.D. Scott).

Spatial and GIS Modelling

Statistics of large geoscience datasets, Geographic information systems (GIS), Geostatistics and spatial modelling, Mixed models with spatial data (B. ErniL.M. HainesC. Thiart,  M. Varughese).   

Time Series Modelling

Models for the analysis of spatial and temporal data, Extreme value theory (S. ErB. Erni). 

Teaching Statistics

Research into VBA/Excel simulation and spreadsheet-based methods for teaching Statistics(G.D.I. BarrL. Scott).