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 key stage (primary, secondary and sixth form). Every year we ask for talks on a particular theme.
We encourage schools to use these talks (~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 primary school – When we build wind farms, what happens to the wildlife?
- Craig Anderson, senior lecturer in statistics, University of Glasgow, Scotland, William Guy Lecturer for secondary school – Using statistics to monitor air pollution
- Eleanor D’Arcy, PhD student in statistics, Lancaster University, William Guy Lecturer for sixth form – How can statistics protect us against extreme sea levels resulting from climate change?
William Guy Lectureship application and selection process
The William Guy Lecturers are appointed following an open call and competitive selection process. Further information on the 2023 - 2024 application and selection process is available on our website.
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.