Prof Inger Fabris-Rotelli is an associate professor in the Department of Statistics at the University of Pretoria. She has been at the Department of Statistics since 2004 and holds a PhD Mathematical Sciences (2013). ‘I double majored at undergraduate level in Mathematical Statistics and Applied Mathematics, and have two honours degrees – one in Applied Mathematics and one in Mathematical Statistics,’ she adds.

‘My research interests are in spatial statistics and GIS, as well as remote sensing and general image processing. The research focuses on applied areas, developing mathematical and statistical methodology for image processing, remote sensing and spatial statistics with impact in areas of criminology, epidemiology (COVID-19) and biostatistics, and informal road modelling.’

Prof Fabris-Rotelli has a particular passion for postgraduate supervision and has supervised over 50 honours and 35 masters students to completion. She comments that ‘being in a STEM field is incredibly rewarding. It is fast-paced and growing, and it requires us to keep up with what students need as graduates. I particularly enjoy supervising postgraduate and currently have seven honours students, five masters students and nine PhD students. Growing young academics is a passion of mine and I share my journey and enthusiasm for academia with them. I started a research group in Doctoral Supervision in Statistics in 2020 which focuses on supervisor development in Academic Statistics in South Africa where there are very few senior professors to act as mentors. Our website is here.’

Prof Fabris-Rotelli served on the executive of the South African Statistical Association (SASA) from 2012 until 2018, and as a director on the ICCSSA (Institute of Certificated and Chartered Statisticians in South Africa) board from 2019. She is the current president of SASA and the CEO of ICCSSA. Among others, she is also a member of ISI, ISPRS and IMS internationally, and the Golden Key Society, SASA, S2A3, SAMS, ICCSSA (registered as a Chartered Statistician from 2019). She is a SACNASP council member for the period 2021 to 2025 and has a National Research Foundation Y2 rating in recognition of her research.

One of her favourite quotes comes from Harry S Truman: ‘It’s what you learn after you know it all, that counts.’ This relates to her firm belief in the importance of collaboration: ‘I am a member of a countrywide research collaboration group, namely Spatial Epidemiological Modelling (SEPIMOD) and also of StatSNetSA. ‘In addition to a number of publications, both these groups have meant postgraduate student growth and young academic development.’ She believes that ‘as academic Statistics grows in South Africa, more interdisciplinary collaborations are important. This will further accelerate growth, and NITheCS provides an excellent platform for this.’

Prof Fabris-Rotelli is an Abe Bailey Fellow (2007 tour award), and a 2018 fellow of the TUKS Young Researcher Leadership Program (TYRLP). She was selected as a BRICS Young Scientist 2020 (in Artificial Intelligence).

She has a thought for young researchers: ‘Choose your career based on what you enjoy – you will do it every day. It should not feel like a job.’