Fisher Memorial Trust

Window at Gonville & Caius College Cambridge

(Photograph by Denise Till)

The Fisher Memorial Trust was set up to promote interest in the life and work of the great statistician, evolutionary biologist and geneticist, Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher (1890-1962) and to maintain his scientific legacy by encouraging discussion of the scientific fields in which he was active.

Charity Commission charity number 313536

Committee members

Society Representative Position
Biometric Society Prof Rosemary Bailey
Biometric Society Prof Vern Farewell***
Biometric Society Mr Andrew Mead *
Genetics Society Prof Brian Charlesworth, FRS
Genetics Society Prof Adam Eyre-Walker Treasurer
Royal Society Sir Walter Bodmer, FRSChairman
Royal Statistical Society Prof Peter Diggle **
Royal Statistical Society Prof Stephen SennSecretary
* Replaced Prof John Gower 1 February 2015 ** Replaced Sir David Cox 1 February 2015 *** Replaced Prof Mike Kenward 1 February 2016

Annual report for 2015

Annual report

The Fisher Memorial Lectures

IDr. F. Yates 23.3.66 Computers, the second revolution in statistics.
IIDr. R. R. Race6.3.68Blood groups in human genetics
IIIProf. E. A. Cornish3.9.69Developments from the Fisher-Cornish expansions.
IVProf. K. Mather18.12.70Biometrical genetics.
VProf. G. A. Barnard19.9.72Statistical inference and its historical development
VIProf. L. L. Cavalli-Sforza24.6.74Cultural versus biological evolution
VIIProf. R. Hide17.11.77Motions in planetry fluids
VIIIProf. D. J. Finney20.9.78Bioassay and the practice of statistical inference
IXProf. J. Maynard Smith19.3.81The evolution of the sex ratio
XProf. J. H. Bennett3.6.81R. A. Fisher and The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection
XIProf. S. Karlin20.4.83Kin selection and altruism
XIIProf. D. R. Cox5.4.84Regression and the design of experiments
XIIIProf. S. M. Stigler22.9.86Francis Galton and the unravelling of the normal world
XIVProf. G. E. Box23.3.88Quality improvement, an expanding domain for the application of scientific method
XVSir Walter Bodmer23.3.90Genetic sequences
XVIProf. D. Lindley17.9.92Statistics of the market place
XVIIProf. A. J. Jeffereys16.8.93Molecular sleuthing: the story of genetic fingerprinting
XVIIIDr. A. W. F. Edwards20.10.94Fiducial inference and the fundamental theorem of natural selection
XIXProf. M. J. R. Healy3.4.95The life and work of Frank Yates
XXProf. J. A. Nelder5.9.96Computers and statistics: the continuing revolution.
XXISir John Kingman16.11.98Mathematics of genetic diversity: before and after DNA.
XXIIProf. B Efron12.9.00The essential Fisher
XXIIISir Richard Doll29.10.01Proof of causality: Deductions from epidemiological evidence
XXIVDr. Oliver Mayo26.06.02The realisation of Fisher's research programme
XXVProf. Warren Ewens7.04.03Statistics and the transformation from genetics to genomics
XXVIProf. Adrian Smith8.09.04Towards an Evidence-Based Society: the Role of Statistical Thinking
XXVIIProf. E.A.Thompson4.12.061953: an unrecognized summit in Human Genetic Linkage Analysis
XXVIIIProf. R.A. Bailey15.07.08Design of dose-escalation trials
XXIX Prof B Charlesworth and
Prof D Charlesworth
6.01.10Fisher and Modern Evolutionary Genetics
XXXProf Philip Dawid10.11.11Causal inference from experimental data
XXXIProf Peter Donnelly14.11.12Genetic Variation in Human Health and Disease
XXXIIProf David Spiegelhalter3.07.13Putting life into numbers: the highs and lows of communicating statistics to the public
XXXIIIProf Bill Hill8.01.14Applying quantitative genetic and genomic information to animal improvement
XXXIVProf Peter McCullagh27.10.15Empirical phenomena and universal laws
XXXVProf Nancy Reid27.10.16Statistical science and data science: where do we go from here?

35th Fisher Lecturer

was given by Professor Nancy Reid of the University of Toronto on Thursday 27th October 2016, as part of a meeting entitled
Data Science: The View from the Mathematical Sciences
organised together with the Royal Statistical Society and the London Mathematical Society.


Statistical science and data science: where do we go from here?


Statistics departments in Canada are scrambling to introduce programs in data science, and the situation is doubtless very similar in many other countries. Many of these programs concentrate on training, with somewhat less emphasis on research. I will present my views on some of the associated research areas, with emphasis on lessons learned from a six-month thematic program on Big Data that took place at the Fields Institute in 2015. While it is difficult to predict the long term impact of the rush to data science, there does seem to be an interesting mix of both old and new statistics involved.

A report of the lecture and a video recording can be found here.

Fisher lecturer Nancy Reid with Trust chairman Walter Bodmer(photo S Senn)

London Mathematical Society Chairman Simon Tavares with Fisher Trust members Brian Charlesworth and Adam Eyre-Walker (photo S Senn)

Next lecture

The 36th Fisher Memorial Lecture

The 36th Fisher Memorial Lectur will be given at the Royal Statistical Society Annual Conference in Glasgow on Monday, 4 September 2017, 18:00-19:00
Venue Main auditorium Technology & Innovation Centre,University of Strathclyde, 99 George Street, Glasgow, G1 1RD

Title: And thereby hangs a tail: the strange history of P-values

Stephen Senn, Luxembourg Institute of Health
RA Fisher is usually given the honour and now (increasingly) the shame of having invented P-values. A common theme of criticism is that P-values give significance too easily and that their cult is responsible for a replication crisis enveloping science.

However, tail area probabilities were calculated long before Fisher and naively and commonly given an inverse interpretation. It was Fisher who pointed out that this interpretation was unsafe and who stressed an alternative and more conservative one, although even this can be found in earlier writings such as those of Karl Pearson.

I shall consider the history of P-values and inverse probability from Bayes to Fisher, passing by Laplace, Pearson, Student, Broad and Jeffreys, and show that the problem is not so much an incompatibility of frequentist and Bayesian inference, as an incompatibility of two approaches to dealing with null hypotheses. Both these approaches are encountered in Bayesian analyses, with the older of the two much more common. They lead to very different inferences in the Bayesian framework but much lesser differences in the frequentist one. I conclude that the real problem is that there is an unresolved difference of practice in Bayesian approaches. This does not, of itself, constitute a defence of P-values but it does suggest that some of the problems for which they are blamed will not be resolved merely by abandoning them.


The RA Fisher Digital Archive University of Adelaide

Figures from the history of statistics Site maintained by John Aldrich

A Guide to R.A. Fisher Specific Fisher guide maintained by John Aldrich

Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher MacTutor History of Mathematics Biography

Ronald Aylmer Fisher Monash University Fisher pages

COPSS Awards Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies Awards (including Fisher lecture)

Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies list of Fisher lecturers History of the COPSS Awards

Chance, risk and healthOpen University series of 4 podcasts on RA Fisher and his legacy

Page of quotations from the works of Fisher collected by Anthony Edwards

Fisher memorabilia

The committee are interested to establish an index of Fisher memorabilia. If anybody has knowledge of the whereabouts of any Fisher memorabilia or is interested in learning of their whereabouts, please contact the secretary Stephen Senn or any member of the committee.

This page last updated 24 June 2017

Page maintained by Stephen Senn