This month Alan Gordon, Statistical Services Branch talks about his role in AFBI
I have worked as a statistician, first as a data analyst and latterly as a consultant, for Statistical Services Branch (formerly Biometrics) for over 27 years.
My main body of work is proving a statistical consultancy and data analysis service to the Agriculture and Food Research Branches in SAFSD and to all branches in VSD. The work is very varied and includes advising on design and analysing the results from many experiments using methods such as generalised linear mixed models to various multivariate techniques.
As a support branch the best thing is that I get to collaborate with lots of scientists from other branches on interesting research projects. As a result I get to learn many new and exciting things though this interaction.
As well as using a number of statistical packages such as GenStat, Stata and R which are the tools of my trade the most useful program I have at my disposal is Excel. I have spent many years learning this spreadsheet and have frequent queries from other AFBI colleagues asking if you can do a particular function in Excel. I’m also frequently asked if I can produce an Excel Macro (powerful programming language in Excel) to help with difficult and/or repetitive data processing tasks.
In the past when I met new people for the first and they asked me what I worked at, I told them that I tried to make pigs happy. This stemmed from the fact that one of the first people I worked with when I joined the Science Service, as it was then, was Violet Beattie who was looking at research that involved studying pig behaviour and how putting toys in their pens made then less aggressive and more contented. Once I had lured them in with this opening gambit I then told them that I was a statistician. Anyway it worked with my wife.
Interesting facts about Alan Gordon:
What is the last book you read?
Power of the Sword by Wilbur Smith. I find that once I start reading his books I can’t put them down.
What is your favourite film?
I love Forrest Gump. It has a bit of everything in it.
Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and what is its name?
Yes, an extremely spoiled Miniature Schnauzer called Harriet
What are your hobbies?
I am totally obsessed with golf, although I am not very good at it.
What is your favourite team/sport you support?
I am a passionate supporter of Liverpool. Thankfully I can remember when they regularly won things.