Some speakers at the science conference

SIR DAVID SPIEGELHALTER
SIR DAVID SPIEGELHALTER
SIR MARK WALPORT
SIR MARK WALPORT
DR JANICE LOUGH
DR JANICE LOUGH

SIR DAVID SPIEGELHALTER

Are you more likely to be hit by a meteorite or win the lottery? Do couples really hit their peak divorce risk during the seventh year of marriage?

Answering such questions is all in a day's work for statistician David Spiegelhalter, who is the Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge.

An expert on medical statistics in particular, Sir David, 63, has played a leading role in several public inquiries and was part of a team that developed revised guidelines for cardiovascular care.

He also helped to write and design leaflets published by the British National Health Service on breast cancer risks and the benefits of breast cancer screening.

In addition, he has been the president of the Royal Statistical Society in Britain since the start of this year. His other awards and honours include the 2009 Weldon Memorial Prize and Medal given by the University of Oxford, and a British knighthood in 2014, both for his contributions to the field of statistics.

More than 400 scientists from various fields will be meeting in Singapore at Biopolis next week during the second Commonwealth Science Conference. The Straits Times highlights some of the speakers.


SIR MARK WALPORT

Sir Mark Walport is Britain's government chief scientific adviser and co-chair of the Prime Minister's Council for Science and Technology.

In these roles, he provides scientific advice to British Prime Minister Theresa May and her Cabinet, advises the government on aspects of policy on science and technology, and ensures and improves the use of scientific evidence in government.

Sir Mark, 64, also leads the science and engineering profession within the civil service.

He will soon also be the most powerful person in British science: From next year, he will lead a new public agency, called the UK Research and Innovation, that will oversee the distribution of £6 billion (S$10.8 billion) in research funds each year. It is part of the British government's plan to coordinate scientific investment and boost cross-disciplinary research. He was knighted in Britain in 2009 for his services to medical research, and was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh this year. His other appointments have included being a non-executive member of the Office for Strategic Coordination of Health Research.


DR JANICE LOUGH

Tropical coral reefs are among earth's oldest and largest living systems, making them rich in information about the planet's past.

Australia's Great Barrier Reef, for instance, exceeds 2,000km and started growing millions of years ago. Dr Janice Lough, a senior principal research scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science, is uncovering their secrets.

Climate research, for example, requires data from a long period of time, but instruments to measure tropical oceans' conditions are relatively new.

By studying certain corals, Dr Lough has been able to reconstruct the oceans' historical conditions to shed light on the nature and causes of past climate and environmental changes.

Her research also involves detecting and understanding the deadly consequences of a rapidly changing global climate, due to human activities, for tropical coral reef ecosystems. Dr Lough is also an adjunct professorial research fellow and partner investigator at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Reef Studies at James Cook University.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 09, 2017, with the headline 'Some speakers at the science conference'. Print Edition | Subscribe