Marti J. Anderson

Women in STEM
Women in STEM
Marti J. Anderson

Specialty: Ecological Statistics

Major Contributions:

First woman in New Zealand to become full-time professor in mathematics, statistics or computer science

 Youngest person in New Zealand to become full professor in statistics

Co-creator of PERMANOVA+

Image: Jane Ussher / Massey University Press (CC BY 4.0 DEED)

A rare combination of what she considers two very different style disciplines, Dr. Marti J. Anderson has found her place bringing together the worlds of ecology and statistical analysis.

In 1997 she earned a doctorate in marine ecology from the University of Sydney. While working as a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute of Marine Ecology in Sydney she also earned a master’s in mathematical statistics.

In 1999 she was hired as a lecturer in the Department of Statistics at the University of Auckland rising to the position of associate professor in 2007. Two years later she became the first woman in New Zealand to become a full-time professor in mathematics, statistics, or computer science when she joined the faculty at Massey University Albany Campus as the Chair in Statistics and in 2011, she became a professor at the New Zealand Institute for Advanced Study at Massey being awarded the title of Distinguished Professor in 2018.

Her work as an ecological statistician combines several disciplines including biology, ecology, and mathematical statistics. The heart of her research is in experimental design using novel multivariate statistical methods to analyze ecological communities in order to make valid statistical inferences in high-dimensional multi-factorial systems.

In 2011 as part of a deep-sea study of biodiversity, Anderson and colleagues captured the first footage of a hagfish in its natural habitat which turned into a viral clip on the internet due mostly to the noxious slime produced by the fish as a defense mechanism.

As part of a collaborative effort Dr. Anderson and two developers created PERMANOVA+, an add on package for the software PRIMER, which is used for analysis of ecological data. PERMANOVA+ expands the parameters of study to allow the use of multivariate or univariate data in the context of complex sampling structures, experimental design, and models. Used to assess ecological communities, it has been used globally by scientists and environmental agencies. In addition to presenting workshops on the use of this software internationally, Anderson has published over 125 scientific papers that focus on the combination of statistical analysis and ecology. Her findings help provide a theoretical understanding for applied conservation and environmental management.

Written by Angela Goad


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See Also:

Google Scholar: Marti Jane Anderson

Massey University: Scientists film hagfish anti-shark slime weapon