Release Date:

Professor Janine Illian is Chair in Statistical Sciences at the University of Glasgow and author of “Statistical Analysis and Modelling of Spatial Point Patterns", the current standard work on point process modelling.

Her spatial modelling research has been applied to the fields of ecological biodiversity, crime and terrorism modelling, and earthquake forecasting.

Join us as we talk about spatial point modelling and its applications in the areas of ecology, orangutan populations, and COVID.

About Prof Janine Illian

Professor Janine Illian joined the University of Glasgow as Chair in Statistical Sciences in 2019. Prior to this, she was a senior lecturer in statistics and Head of Statistics, within the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of St Andrews. She held a Professor II position at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, 2013-2016.

Her work focuses on spatial point process methodology, and she is the author of “Statistical Analysis and Modelling of Spatial Point Patterns” (Wiley, 2008), which has become a standard work on point process modelling since its publication. Her research profile focuses on the development of modern, realistically complex, spatial statistical methodology that is both computationally feasible and relevant to end-users. She has taken spatial point processes from the theoretical literature into the real world and encouraging statistical development by fostering strong relationships with the user community.

Her research has impacted on spatial modelling and biodiversity research in the context of ecology, and she has diversified to applications in crime modelling, earthquake forecasting, environmental modelling and terrorism studies.


Papers authored by or mentioned in our conversation.

  • Illian, J, Møller, J, and Waagepetersen, R (2007). Spatial point process analysis for a plant community with high biodiversity. Environmental and Ecological Statistics, 16, 389--405.


Books authored by or mentioned in our conversation.

  • Pippi Longstocking (Puffin Modern Classics) by Lindgren, A GoodReads
  • Mio, mein Mio by Lindgren, A GoodReads
  • Statistical Analysis and Modelling of Spatial Point Patterns by Illian, J, Penttinen, A, Stoyan, H, and Stoyan, D GoodReads

Listen to the Podcast

Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Amazon Music, Castbox, Deezer, Goodpods, Overcast, Pocket Casts, TuneIn, Blubrry, Digital Podcast, Gaana, Podcast Addict, Podchaser, Podhero, PlayerFM, JioSaavn, RSS, and other podcast platforms.

Apple PodcastsSpotifyiHeartRadioAmazon Music

Watch on YouTube

  • [00:52] What drew Janine to the field of mathematics
  • [01:15] Discovering statistics through psychology
  • [02:31] Discovering her interest in ecological statistics
  • [03:56] The applications of statistical modelling in ecology
  • [04:22] Applied spatial modelling for environments
  • [05:45] Modelling for present/historical analysis as well as projections
  • [06:17] Crane populations in the UK
  • [07:32] Collaborating with ecologists in the field
  • [10:01] Learning ecological sciences as a statistician
  • [11:08] Coming from outside the discipline gives a fresh perspective
  • [12:36] Travelling to Perth, Australia for her PhD
  • [13:00] Studying plant communities with high biodiversity such as the fire-adapted flora in Australia
  • [14:54] Moving towards high biodiversity rainforest related work
  • [15:19] How Janine finds her diverse research topics
  • [17:38] Some research just requires a multidisciplinary approach
  • [18:49] Collaborating on COVID modelling
  • [21:22] The consortium started in Scotland and just grew
  • [22:09] The geographic scope of the modelling
  • [23:09] The factors that add complexity to models
  • [25:02] World of Warcraft's Corrupted Blood Incident
  • [25:49] Connectedness factors in modelling
  • [27:08] Terrain as a factor
  • [27:52] Orangutan populations in Malaysia
  • [32:09] Bonus Question 1: What hobby or interest do you have that is most unrelated to your field of work?
  • [33:11] Janine's roots contributed to an interdisciplinary career
  • [33:48] Thoughts on Janine's psychology background
  • [34:53] How a psychology background contributes to Janine's current work
  • [36:40] Bonus Question 2: Which childhood book holds the strongest memories for you?
  • [38:12] Using her favourite book to learn languages
  • [38:56] Bonus Question 3: What advice you would give someone who wants to do what you do? Or what advice should they ignore?
  • [40:55] Theoretical vs applied methodologies
  • [44:04] Reflecting on where her work has taken her

I had mentioned that the CDC had reached out to Blizzard regarding the Corrupted Blood Incident for research on epidemics. There’s a little bit more to this than what I mentioned as it appears Blizzard had confirmed to them that it was just ‘a glitch’. The event however has since been referenced in related research on epidemics, terrorism, and to an extent, sociology. You can read more about this incident and modelling for epidemic research here.

Also, I said the Corrupted Blood Incident was ‘a few years ago’ when it was actually 2005. Yeah, I got nothing.

Topics/Resources/People Mentioned

Connect with Us

Support STEAM Powered

Review Us

Please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, GoodPods, Podchaser, or your preferred podcatcher.

Become a Patron

Affiliate Programs

Start your own podcast or YouTube channel, or run panels and seminars with Record up to 8 people in a session with up to 1000 audience members. You can record in advance as I do, or you can livestream with the option to send it straight to Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, or Twitch. There's even a green-room for guests and live call in for audience members. Afterwards, get separate video (up to 4K) and audio (up to 48kHz) tracks per recorded participant for editing, none of that “active speaker only” limitation. You know you're in good hands with a service whose client-base includes some heavy-hitters. Check out to see who else is on board. Use promo code STEAM25 to get 25% off the first three months of your subscription.

Music is “Gypsy Jazz in Paris 1935” by Brett Van Donsel.