Lancaster University

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Director appointed to Lancaster’s flagship national statistics centre

02/28/2007 16:11:37

Dr Gillian Lancaster
Dr Gillian Lancaster

A director has been appointed to lead the new National Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning for Postgraduate Statistics at Lancaster University.

Dr Gillian Lancaster is currently the Deputy Director of the Centre for Medical Statistics and Health Evaluation at Liverpool University.

She said she was delighted with her appointment as head of the flagship national centre, which is being built with a £4.85m award from the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

“I will be joining a statistics department with an excellent track record for research-led teaching and learning. The new centre will welcome not only those wanting to specialise in statistics but also those from other disciplines who want to learn and apply statistical methods in their own research areas.

“As well as exploring new innovative teaching styles and assessment methods, I want to develop communication skills in statistics, and expand teaching initiatives into other disciplines and across institutions. The ultimate aim is to promote Lancaster’s position as a leading national and international training centre for Postgraduate statistics.”

Around £2.4 m will contribute towards a state-of-the-art teaching building and the centre will be funded with £500,000 for five years.

The number of staff will also expand with a further six lecturers appointed.

Prof Brian Francis, acting Director of the Centre said: “It’s not just that we’re getting new accommodation but there will also be the potential to experiment in new ideas in teaching postgraduate statistics. The Department has three separate EPSRC grants for training maths, statistics and operational research postgraduates, and we already host one of the six ESRC National research methods centre nodes. With the University’s recent designation as an ESRC regional training centre, we want to make Lancaster into a regional centre for training people in statistical methodology, both in statistics and in other disciplines.”

Work has started on the new Centre, a two-storey building adjacent to Fylde College which will have two computer labs, a new lecture theatre and an access grid node for distance teaching to other universities.

Prof Francis said: “It’s a wonderful teaching space with large computer labs and learning zones where postgraduate students and staff can interact. It will be full of light and a wonderful space to sit and discuss ideas.”

The building will include state-of-the-art environmental features such as solar chimneys which recover and re-circulate the building’s warmth to keep rooms cool in summer and warm in winter.

The north side will be faced in glass while the south side will have solar protection to cut out direct sunlight. The outside area will be landscaped with a pond and seating.

The Centre is expected to be completed by November this year.

Statistics research at Lancaster is internationally-recognised and received the highest rating in the Research Assessment Exercise of six stars.

Recent statistics research at the University includes studying the effect of climate change on extreme sea levels, statistical genetics modelling of chromosome segments for inbred populations, building statistical models for the development of cognitive skills in children, and analysing the criminal careers of offenders and movement into serious offending.