G.S. Watson Annual Lecture

In 1999, the Department of Mathematical and Physical Sciences established an annual lecture in memory of Professor Geoffrey S. Watson (1921-1998).

Professor Watson was born in Bendigo in 1921. He was educated at Bendigo High School and graduated from The University of Melbourne. Professor Watson had a distinguished career in the mathematical sciences, holding positions at The University of Melbourne, the University of Cambridge, Australian National University, the University of Toronto and Johns Hopkins University. He later became Professor and Head of the Department of Statistics at Princeton University.

Professor Watson was keen to spread his own enthusiasm for mathematics, especially its applications in science. “I regard myself as an applied mathematician,” he said. “I have always spent more time reading science than mathematics.”

Professor Watson had a great impact in science and economics. He co-developed the Durbin-Watson statistic, which is important in many branches of statistics, particularly in economics and econometrics.

Past lectures

1999: Professor Ruth J. Williams (University of California, San Diego): From queuing networks to reflecting diffusions.

2000: Professor Terry P. Speed (The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and University of California, Berkeley): Mathematics meets molecular biology.

2001: Associate Professor Doug M. Clarke (Australian Catholic University): Developing young children as mathematical thinkers in P-4: Exciting approaches from the Early Numeracy Research Project.

2002: Professor Lynn Batten (Deakin University): Tales of decrypt.

2003: Professor Fima Klebaner (Monash University): Mathematics of options.

2004: Professor Nick Trefethen (University of Oxford): Polynomial interpolation is much better than you think.

2005: Professor Annette Dobson (University of Queensland): Methodological challenges from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health.

2006: Associate Professor Natashia Boland (University of Melbourne): Applications and techniques in discrete optimisation.

2007: Dr Bob Anderssen (CSIRO Mathematical and Information Sciences): Modelling pattern formation in plants.

2008: Emeritus Professor Neville de Mestre (Bond University): Some mathematical connections with sport

2009: Dr Rebecca Kippen (Australian National University): Do Australian parents want both a son and a daughter?

2010: Dr Louise Ryan (CSIRO Mathematics, Informatics and Statistics): Mathematics – driving innovation for the services economy.

2011: Professor Peter Hall (University of Melbourne): Contemporary frontiers in statistics.

2012: Professor Brian Davey (La Trobe University): The logic of algebra and the algebra of logic.

2013: Associate Professor Mary Myerscough (University of Sydney): House-hunting honeybees – from individual to collective behaviour.

2014: Professor Peter Sullivan (Monash University): Approaches to lecturing and teaching mathematics that foster curiosity, confidence and insight.

2015: Professor David Karoly (University of Melbourne): Signal and noise, evidence and misinformation about climate change.

2016: Associate Professor Jason Sharples (University of New South Wales): Understanding the dynamic drivers of extreme bushfire behaviour.

2017: Professor Kate Smith-Miles, Australian Laureate Fellow (Monash University): Optimisation in the darkness of uncertainty: When you don't know what you don't know, and what you do know isn't much!

2018: Dr Timothy Trudgian (University of New South Wales, ADFA, Canberra): Finally! A use for probability: calculating the odds of a Trump impeachment.

2019: Associate Professor Burkard Polster (Monash University): Solving equations by playing laser tag with turtles.