Pioneering statistician Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale Day

The Florence Nightingale Days are part of our continuing efforts to promote mathematics and statistics and especially the participation of women in those subjects.

The Florence Nightingale Days are part of our continuing efforts to promote mathematics and statistics to young women in years 10 and above, who will soon be making crucial choices in their career paths. The Florence Nightingale Day will showcase successful women in mathematics at various stages of their careers, display information about the broad range of possibilities offered by a degree in mathematics or statistics, stimulate informal discussion between pupils and mathematicians and give an opportunity for participants to compare their mathematical skills with their peers in other schools via a quiz.

While Florence Nightingale is well-known for her medical work as a nurse, she was also a pioneer in statistics, especially in the use of visualisation of statistical data. A description of this work may be found in her biography on the MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, along with a large number of biographies of other female mathematicians.

Florence Nightingale Day 2020

Thursday 9th January, 9:30-15:30, Lancaster University Management School Lecture Theatre 1

Provisional Timetable

  • 09.30-10.00: Registration
  • 10.00-10.50: Introduction, followed by talk by Dr Anna-Lena Sachs (Lancaster University), "Retail Analytics – forecasting and inventory management of perishable products"
    • Forecasts and optimization play an important role in our daily lives which we do not even realize in many cases. We rely on apps that find the optimal route to the location we want to go to. We rely on the weather forecast when deciding what to wear in the morning. Forecasts and optimization are also very important in a business context. For example, store managers rely on decision support systems to forecast future demand and decide how much to order of each product. On the one hand, if they order too little, customers do not find the products they were looking for and might be unhappy. On the other hand, if they order too much, outdated inventory has to be discarded and causes large amounts of food waste. In my talk, I am going to present different approaches how to tackle this challenge. I am going to show what kind of models are typically used by decision support systems to calculate the optimal solution that balances product availability and waste.
  • 10.50-11.10: Refreshments
  • 11.10-12.20: Maths quiz!
  • 12.20-13.00: Lunch
  • 13.00-13.45: Talk by Dr Marnie Low (University of Glasgow), "Visualising the environment: when pictures really do speak a thousand words"
    • In this talk I will show you how, in my job as a statistician, we use statistics and graphics to visualises many different types of environmental data including air pollution data, disease risks and many more! I will also demonstrate how we can use statistics to take measurements from across an area or region and turn them into maps to help medical practitioners and environmental regulators get a broad picture of what is happening across a whole town, city or country.
  • 13.45-14.00: Results and prizes of the maths quiz, break
  • 14.00-14.45: Talk by Dr Katie Chicot (Open University), "To infinity and beyond!"
    • The infinitely large and the infinitely small are mind-blowing concepts that have helped mathematicians to solve some very real, and finite, problems. We will explore the mysteries and misconceptions of infinity, from ancient puzzles to some of the very latest mathematical research, taking you to infinity... and beyond.
  • 14.45-15.00: Closing comments, thank you gifts and feedback
  • 15.00-15.30: Maths ramble (information stands and informal discussions)

Dr Anna-Lena Sachs

Anna recently started a position as Lecturer in Predictive Analytics at Lancaster University. Before coming to Lancaster, she was an Assistant Professor at University of Cologne and received a PhD from Technical University of Munich, Germany. During her master studies at the University of Mannheim, Germany and PhD at the University of Vienna, Austria, she went abroad to McGill University, Canada, and University of California, Berkeley, USA.

Her research focuses on forecasting and inventory management. One of the main topics is to identify the optimal solution for a problem using quantitative models and then to investigate in laboratory or field studies how these decisions are implemented in real-life. A possible area for application is demand forecasts and inventory decisions in retailing. Knowing how decisions should be made and how to support decision makers best helps to reduce inventory in retail stores and consequently, food waste.

Anna-Lena Sachs
Marnie Low

Dr Marnie Low

Marnie graduated from the University of Glasgow in 2014 with a BSc (Hons) in Statistics. She then went on to complete her PhD in 2018, also at the University of Glasgow where her thesis focussed on spatio-temporal spline-based models for the analysis and optimisation of groundwater quality monitoring networks. After finishing her PhD, she completed a short postdoc (also in Glasgow, there is a theme developing here), which involved working with the Environment Agency to investigate sampling networks for their river monitoring programmes.

During her PhD she had the opportunity to teach several undergraduate classes, she found these teaching experiences very rewarding and, on the back of this, decided to pursue a career in teaching statistics which took her to where she is now: employed at the University of Glasgow (In case it hasn’t been made clear, she loves Glasgow!) as a lecturer in Statistics on a Learning, Teaching and Scholarship track, with her primary research focus being on statistics education.

Dr Katie Chicot

Katie Chicot is a Senior Lecturer, Staff Tutor in Maths & Statistics for the Open University. Her interest in all things mathematical stems from a love of investigation and challenge. Tackling mathematical problems and encouraging others to engage with mathematical investigations are the cornerstones of Katie’s work. Katie has tried all sorts of means of communicating mathematics including co-creating the series ‘Patterns of life’ for OU iTunes, captaining the OU’s team on BBC2’s Beat the Brain, participating in Facebook events and more seriously as academic consultant to BBC Radio 4’s "More or Less".

Her most recent venture is the creation of a brain teaser app, Perplex.

Katie Chicot

Previous events

You can find information about previous years' Florence Nightingale Days here: