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Saturday, 9 September 2017

The Anchor University Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Statistical Science and Data Analysis (AU-USSDA) was inaugurated by Eric Vance


Researchers stuck with chapter four of their research work can get help from a new statistical collaboration laboratory that has been set up at the Anchor University, Lagos (AUL).

The Anchor University Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Statistical Science and Data Analysis (AU-USSDA) was inaugurated by Eric Vance, Director of the Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Statistical Analysis (LISA) at the University of Colorado, Boulder, United States, on Monday.

The laboratory, which is the third in Nigeria and seventh in Africa to be established under the Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Statistical Analysis (LISA) Vision 2020 programme to plant 20 laboratories in developing countries, will train statisticians to work with researchers from various fields of endeavour to interpret their data.

The other two LISA laboratories in Nigeria can be found at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-ife, and the University of Ibadan (UI)).

Delivering a lecture after the inauguration, Vance said he was inspired to set up Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Statistical Analysis after noticing that researchers in the United States struggled with their researches because of limited knowledge of statistics.

“I noticed in United States that they were so many researchers who wanted to be able to do more but were limited by their ability in statistics so they weren’t able to analyze the data in new modern ways they were not able to come up with answers to their research questions.  It is a worldwide problem,” he said.

Apart from serving as an incubation facility to teach students of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science core technical statistical skills and collaborative information gathering techniques, Vance said the laboratory would serve as infrastructure for researchers, businesses and even government to work on their data and come up with solutions that can positively impact society.

He said; “It is useful in two ways.  One is the students studying mathematics and statistics will have modern statistical software to be able to analyse data; and they can work in the laboratory to gain practical experience to solve problems. The second way is the laboratory is the centre for research; and every field needs statistics and so researchers from the university can come to the laboratory to work with the statisticians to be able to solve their own problems. Not everyone can be and an expert in statistics and data science, so what we do is to train them to be able to collaborate with the researchers to be able to ask them questions; to be able to explain statistics, to be able to identify ways by which statistics can accelerate research.”

The associate professor of Applied Mathematics said the training would be provided by Dr Olawale Awe of the Department of Mathematics, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), the first Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Statistical Analysis (LISA) Fellow he trained from a grant he got from Google in 2013/2014, which underscored the importance of developing capacity of local researchers to find indigenous solutions to local problems.

Awe, who was selected from a pool of 108 African researchers for the fellowship in 2013, said like the OAU-LISA laboratory, the Anchor University, Lagos (AUL) version would solve problems for researchers and business.

“We will bring people from the industry, research organisations, come and receive training in data science and statistics. Statistics is needed in almost every aspect of human endeavour.  So we want to float programmes, workshops and issue certificates that will be co-signed by Prof Vance. We want to make this stat lab the centre of data science in Africa.  We are happy to have one in Lagos where we have more people in business and industry so that people can come here and receive training,” he said.

Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof Joseph Afolayan, said the institution welcomed the statistical laboratory because it would help its speedy development.

“We desire to have collaborations from international bodies as part of our effort to internationalize Anchor University.

“The LISA Vision 2020 is a vision that pursues the establishment of this kind of laboratory in 20 developing countries of the world, and for us at this time to key into that vision being the seventh university in Africa and third in Nigeria is a great excitement for me personally,” he said.

Afolayan added that the establishment of the laboratory in his university would spur him up to undertake his own research work in risk management in Civil Engineering, an area that requires a lot of statistical data.

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