RSS William Guy Lecturers


The RSS William Guy Lecturers are prestigious volunteer roles intended to celebrate the importance of engaging with schools and inspiring children about statistics from an early age. They are named in honour of William Augustus Guy, an early medical statistician and past RSS president. 

Three William Guy Lecturers are appointed for every academic year. Each lecturer prepares and records a talk for a particular age range. Every year we ask for talks on a particular theme.  

We encourage schools to use these talks (~20-25 minutes in length) as part of their learning resources. Schools are also welcome to contact the lecturers to request in-person visits or live sessions online. We also encourage schools to contact the lecturers with questions that students may have about the talks, to enable interactive dialogue and stimulate engagement. 

We hope that the William Guy Lecturer talks will be a useful and engaging resource for a broad and diverse range of schools, and will inspire students to discover the interesting and relevant applications of statistics and data science in the real world.  

The current Royal Statistical Society William Guy Lecturers 2023-24 

This year, the theme is Climate change and environmental statistics. Find out more about our current William Guy Lecturers, how to contact them, and watch their talks. 


  • Katherine Whyte, environmental statistician at Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland (BioSS), Edinburgh/Fife, William Guy Lecturer for age 5–11 – When we build wind farms, what happens to the wildlife? 
  • Craig Anderson, senior lecturer in statistics, University of Glasgow, Scotland, William Guy Lecturer for  age 11–16 – Using statistics to monitor air pollution 
  • ​Eleanor D’Arcy, PhD student in statistics, Lancaster University, William Guy Lecturer for age 16+ – How can statistics protect us against extreme sea levels resulting from climate change? 

William Guy Lectureship application and appointment process 


The William Guy Lecturers are appointed following an open call and competitive selection process. Further information on how to apply is available on our website. 

The call for applications for the William Guy Lectureship 2024-25 is now closed. The theme for the next academic year is Statistics in plain sight. We will be appointing lecturers who can inspire the next generation about the importance of statistics and data to the new ‘hot topics’, emerging trends, and long-standing topical features of the world around us – where the role of statistics is crucial but may not be immediately apparent.  

Relevant topics could range from the economic statistics behind the cost-of-living crisis and inflation, the algorithms that decide what content comes up on our social media feeds, what really makes AI chat bots seem so intelligent, or how we deal with uncertainty in our daily lives. We are seeking talks that encourage young people to dig deeper and be curious about the building blocks behind their everyday activities.   

If you'd like to know more about this theme, we have a blog on the subject and how it's relevant to young people. 

History of the lecture

William Augustus Guy (1810-1885) was an early medical statistician and was extremely eminent in the field. He was closely associated with the Society for many years, including having been president 1873-1875. The Guy medals, awarded to distinguished statisticians for important work, testify to his memory. A more recent innovation is the William Guy Lecture. 

One of our former honorary secretaries, Sidney Rosenbaum, discovered that Guy was a pupil at his old school, Christ’s Hospital. Sidney arranged discussions that led to the introduction of the Guy Lecture. The first Guy Lecture was given by Adrian Smith on 29 April 1999 – Statistics and statisticians: the good guy’s answer to lying figures and figuring liars. Adrian Bowman gave the second lecture on 19 May 2000 – A world of difference: a rough guide to why statisticians count

Adrian Bowman’s lecture was then given to many other sixth form audiences. This encouraged us to widen the scope of the Guy Lecture to be available to any school or college. 

In the past, the RSS appointed one William Guy Lecturer per year to deliver in-person talks in schools. Online engagement now offers the opportunity to reach more schools than ever before.