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 2023

Tuesday 10th January, 10:00-15:00, Lancaster University George Fox Lecture Theatre 1


  • 09.30-10.00: Registration
  • 10.00-10.05: Introduction
  • 10.05-10.50: Talk 1 - Professor Rachel McCrea (Lancaster University and the National Centre for Statistical Ecology), "How many are there? Estimating the size of hidden populations".
    • Estimating abundance has been of interest for many years, in a wide range of areas. For example, in ecological settings knowing how many animals live in a given area, and indeed how the population size has changed over time, is critical to understand the conservation status of a particular species, or to determine whether an implemented conservation policy has been successful. For human populations, health care agencies might want to know how many individuals there are in an area with a particular illness, so that adequate resourcing can be allocated to fund their care. Simply attempting to undertake a complete census count of these populations will generally be unsuccessful due to imperfect detection. Within this talk I will describe the type of data that can be collected from sampling populations and will explain how statistical models can be fitted to these data so that we can estimate the size of the population of interest.
  • 10.50-11.10: Refreshments
  • 11.10-12.20: Maths quiz!
  • 12.20-13.00: Lunch break
  • 13.00-13.45: Talk 2 - Robyn Goldsmith (Statistics & Operational Research with Industry Centre for Doctoral Training, Lancaster University), "Back to the Future with Mathematical Techniques".
    • From predicting the end to a TV show using Game Theory, to foreseeing whether a film will be a box office flop with Forecasting Models, as an undergraduate I was fascinated by the mathematical power of prediction. Now as a PhD student, my own research looks at the ways in which we can use maths to find out what lies ahead. In this talk, I will be taking you back in time to research projects of the past and into the future by sharing some of my favourite techniques for looking through a mathematical crystal ball.
  • 13.45-14.00: Results of the quiz and prizes; break
  • 14.00-14.45: Talk 3 - Dr Anastasia Ushakova (Center for Health Informatics, Computing and Statistics, Lancaster University), "Making sense of large and complex datasets".
    • The diversity of data and information that captures variety of activities and processes around us is incredibly rich and is expected to grow even more in the future. What, as applied statisticians, can we use these data for? In this talk I will illustrate examples from the research I had a privilege to contribute to in areas such as domestic energy use, developmental psychology and healthcare research. I am also looking forward to sharing my passion for statistical methods, especially those that concern changes that occur over time and our ability to understand causes of things to solve numerous puzzles found in science, often called as 'chicken and egg' problems.
  • 14.45-15.00: Closing comments, thank you gifts and feedback

Professor Rachel McCrea

Professor Rachel McCrea holds a Chair in Statistics in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Lancaster University. She is the Director of the National Centre for Statistical Ecology and a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales. Much of Rachel’s research has been motivated by a desire to reliably inform conservation strategies. In particular she has developed a number of new statistical approaches for the modelling of capture-recapture data, a topic on which she has written a textbook.

Professor Rachel McCrea
Robyn Goldsmith

Robyn Goldsmith

Robyn Goldsmith is a PhD student at the STOR-i (Statistics & Operational Research with Industry) Centre for Doctoral Training at Lancaster University. Her research is based within the areas of Forecasting and Inventory Management and is conducted in partnership with Jaguar Land Rover. Before coming to Lancaster, Robyn completed her Integrated Master's in Mathematics (MMath) at the University of Greenwich. In her spare time, Robyn likes to write and has had short plays staged in both London and Cambridge. She attended the National Screenwriting Academy run by the British Film Institute (BFI) and was introduced as one of twenty-five new voices in British Cinema.

Dr Anastasia Ushakova

Anastasia Ushakova is a Lecturer in Biostatistics (Health Informatics) at Lancaster University. Her research contributions and expertise are focused on fields that utilise routinely collected NHS data, longitudinal and time-series data. She collaborates with psychologists, social scientists, medical researchers and statisticians to develop and apply methods that can generate insights from complex and large datasets to answer research questions in areas such as cancer, mental health and literacy research.

Dr Anastasia Ushakova

Previous events

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