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Department of Statistics and Population Studies- Research Interests and Current Projects

Our Department revolves around two axes of teaching and research: Statistics and Population Studies, two growing and important fields as data become more and more used everywhere and every day  for planning purposes, and understanding the challenges of our modern societies: from stock markets to human populations.

Indeed the research interests in the Department are vast, from pure statistical research, astronomical research, educations issues, stock market problems, HIV-Aids problematic, to migrations, reproductive health, gender and census questions, to list a few.


Dr Sathiyasusuman Appunni

Fertility; Infant, child and maternal mortality; Women empowerment; Public health, health policy and reproductive health.

Current Project 

  • Demographic analysis of inequalities and healthcare services in South Africa


Prof Renette Blignaut

Biostatistics; Data Mining; Science Education.

Current Projects

  • Understanding risk behaviour of entering first-year students.

  • The development of graduate attributes in a situated learning environment.

  • Entry requirements of university students and their success.

  • Describing illness and disability in South Africa.


Prof Chris Koen

The application of statistical methods to astronomical problems ("astrostatistics"), and the study of variable stars and brown dwarfs.

Current Projects

  • Investigating the efficacy of saddle point methods in the parametric deconvolution of error-contaminated probability density functions.

  • Decision criteria for choosing between continuous and differential photoelectric photometry of stars, based on time series models.

  • Fitting time series models to X-ray observations of a black hole low-mass X-ray binary.

  • Interpretation of spectroscopic measurements of the unusual variable star UNSW V760.

  • Comparing nonparametric deconvolution of densities by the Lucy (conditional distribution) and characteristic-function methods.

  • Fitting stochastic differential equations to non-regularly spaced time series.

  • Extension of a test statistic for changes in a time series, to deal with irregular time spacing, and (ii) complex structure of the series.

  • Modelling of multivariate dependence using asymmetric copulas.

  • Parametric deconvolution of densities contaminated by heteroscedastic measurement errors.

  • Follow-up time series measurements of variable ultracool dwarfs.


Prof Danelle Kotze

Financial Applications in Currency Markets, Time-related Value Functions and Time-varying Regression. Various demographic and bio statistical applications have also been studied e.g. spatial analysis, Poisson zero-inflated models and missing value theory for non-ordered categorical data with applications using DHS data.

Current Projects

  • Examining long-run relationships between the BRICS stock market indices to identify opportunities for implementation of statistical arbitrage strategies

  • Using the Markov Chain Monte Carlo method to make inferences on items of data contaminated by missing values

  • Loss given default in the banking environment

  • Influence of associated factors of poverty on educational attainment

  • Multi-year Trend Analysis of Childhood Immunization Uptake and Coverage

  • Epidemiological analysis of spatially misaligned datao   


Mrs Retha Luus

Survey sampling; Bootstrap; Extreme value theory; Poverty and Inequality.

Current Project

  • Statistical analysis of data obtained from complex designs


Dr Nancy Stiegler

Two distinct areas of research: First point of interest is reproductive health and contraception questions, and second area of research concentrates on data collection with emphasis on surveys and censuses.

Current Projects

  • Contraception and reproductive health in developing countries

  • Census round 2010

  • Comparative study of domestic violence in selected countries

  • Child health and access to water in South-Africa

  • Female Genital Mutilation and its demographic characteristics

  • Accessibility of health facilities for young mothers in developing countries

Ms Esme Jordaan

Mixed modelling with emphasis on Latent Class Models; Agreement; Loglinear modeling in contingency tables; Logistic regression modeling; Randomised controlled trials; Design of trials and quasi-experimental studies; Rasch analysis; Measurement models; Multilevel modeling Indirect methods for estimating prevalence.


Prof Robert Shell

African History; American History; Islam; Aids; Slavery.

Mrs Chanel Morkel

Female Genital Mutilation; Contraception

Current Projects

  • Female Genital Mutilation and its demographic characteristics


Mr Lorén Wesso

Data Mining/Analysis; Population Studies; Survey Analysis; Science Education.

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