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The Random Sample podcast

It’s one thing to read about someone’s research. It’s quite another to hear someone talk about their research, why they did it, and why it’s important.

That is what the ACEMS podcast, The Random Sample, is all about. The goal of the podcast is to open up the world of maths and stats to a whole new audience. In 2020, we doubled our efforts to do this with a big year filled with a diverse group of hosts, guests and topics.

The numbers

Seasons (Seasons 3 & 4)


ACEMS Members as host or guest (10 women, 8 men)

+ Listens

Zoom Meeting to record Ep-30 podcast on "The maths behind Australia's response to COVID-19". Peter Taylor, Tim Macuga and James McCaw

We were also honoured to bring in some distinguished guests from outside of ACEMS for the podcast:

  • Prof James McCaw, University of Melbourne, Co-leader of Australian Pandemic Modelling Team
  • Prof Galit Shmueli, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan
  • Prof Kerry Landman, Professor Emeritus, The University of Melbourne & Science Academy Fellow
  • Prof Chris Matthews, Chair, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Mathematics Alliance
  • Casey Briggs, ABC News
  • Prof Asha Rao, RMIT University, Interim Director of AMSI, Superstar of STEM
  • Dr Sophie Calabretto, Macquarie University, 2x Eureka Award Finalist

We covered a wide range of topics over the two seasons. When the pandemic hit, the podcast focused its efforts on the COVID-19 research being done by ACEMS researchers, as well as the mathematical modelling being used at the highest levels to guide Australia’s response through the crisis.

But that was only just a portion of the topics that were covered in 2020. A sample of The Random Sample includes topics like:

  • Teaching maths through an Aboriginal perspective
  • The low numbers of women in maths and overcoming imposter syndrome
  • The importance of randomised trials, forecasting, and open data
  • Why students should consider a career in maths and stats
  • Social media misinformation and how tech companies may be manipulating behaviour
  • The fascinating history of Bayesian statistics

A secondary goal of the podcast is for ACEMS members to hone their communication skills. The podcast allowed them to do this as a host, guest, or some cases, both. The ACEMS members who have taken part say they’ve really enjoyed their experience.

It makes you think about things in a different way when you have to imagine the audience you’re talking to and what they’re like. I’ve found it a really good development opportunity for me and I’m sure it would be for a lot of other ACEMS members as well

Peter Taylor

Season Three
Season Four

If you haven’t checked the podcast yet, we hope you will. You can subscribe and listen to the podcast for free on iTunes, in Spotify, or on your Android device.