Professor Richard Arnold

Teaching in 2020


BSc (Hons), MSc (Canterbury), MSc (Victoria), PhD (Cambridge),

About me

I started out as an astronomer, studying the structure of galaxies and the orbits of stars within them. I moved into statistics in 1995 and have developed interests in a wide range of statistical applications, including some in my original subject of physics. In recent years I have research projects in Reliability Theory, Directional Statistics, Statistics in Geophysics, and Cluster Analysis. I have a developing interest in fisheries research. I have worked in institutes in Cambridge and London in the UK, Leiden in the Netherlands and Statistics New Zealand in Wellington. I started work at Victoria University of Wellington in 2001. I enjoy working on applied data analysis problems, especially where a novel approach is required to analyse the data correctly.

Research interests

In my research I often take a Bayesian statistical approach. My work in reliability focusses on the description of correlated failures in multiple component systems – such as cars and computers – where the failure of one component can induce ageing or failure of other components. In geophysics my interests are in the determination of the properties of earthquakes, and then using those characteristics to infer properties of the tectonic stresses in the earth’s crust. This work in geophysics has led to research into the statistics of oriented objects: earthquakes, stress axes, and crystal orientations – in particular where there are high degrees of symmetry present. In such situations specialised methods of data analysis are needed. In fisheries I am interested in models of population size, and inference from the limited data that surveys and commercial catch reports provide.

External research grants

  • Maori Mental Health: What the figures are saying (2003- 2004) Health Research Council (AI: with Universities of Auckland and Otago)
  • SOFIE Health (2004-2010) Health Research Council (AI: PI Prof Tony Blakely at University of Otago)
  • Earthquake focal mechanism estimation (2007-2008) Earthquake Commission (AI: PI John Townend, SGEES)
  • Monitoring stress in the Taupo Volcanic Zone (July 2008-June 2009) Earthquake Commission (AI: PI Steve Sherburn at Geological and Nuclear Sciences)
  • He Kainga Oranga/Community Housing and Health Intervention Research Programme (2012- 2015) – Health Research Council programme grant (AI: PI Phillippa Howden-Chapman at University of Otago)
  • Cluster analysis for ordinal data (2013-2016) Marsden Fund (Joint PI with Ivy Liu, AI Shirley Pledger)
  • JSPS Invitation Fellowship Programme (2013-2014) Japan Society for the Promotion of Science
  • Reliability Analysis (2014) Waseda Internal Grant B (AI: PI Prof Yu Hayakawa at Waseda University)

Supervision interests

I am happy to supervise students at Masters and PhD level in areas in line with my research interests outlined above.

Past Masters and PhD students

  • Ronnie Hoogerwerf (MSc, Leiden) Axisymmetric models for the Milky Way Bulge (1994)
  • Arend Sluis (MSc, Leiden) The density distribution of the Galactic Halo as traced by Blue Horizontal Branch Stars. (1995)
  • Edith Hodgen (MSc) Cancer Forecasting in New Zealand. (2003)
  • Kylie Mason (MSc) Risking more than Just Money: Problem Gamblingin New Zealand (2005)
  • Johanna Prebble (MSc) Hospital Services Utilisation in New ZealandFindings from the New Zealand Health Surveys 1996/97 and 2002/03 (2007)
  • Nuovella Williams (PhD) Robust methods for analysing Quantitative Trait Loci. (2007)
  • David Walsh (MSc) Directional Statistics, Bayesian Methods of Focal Mechanism Estimation and their Application to New Zealand Seismicity Data. (2008)
  • Cheryl Hefford (MSc) The Patient Specific Functional Scale(PSFS) for patients with upper extremity problems in a musculoskeletal clinical setting: Responsiveness, reliability, and construct validity (2010)
  • Lisa Lankshear (MSc) Oral health in New Zealand : findings from the New Zealand health survey 2006/07 (2010)
  • Ying Li (MSc) Internal Migration in the Survey of Family, Income and Employment (SoFIE) (2011)
  • Xiaomei Li (MSc) Approaches to modelling heterogeneity in longitudinal studies (2011)
  • Zara Rawlinson (MSc) Microseismicity associated with actively exploited geothermal systems: earthquake detection and probabilistic location at Rotokawa and statistical network design at Kawarau (2011)
  • Alison O’Connell (PhD) Underestimating lifespans? Why longevity risk exists in retirement planning and superannuation policy (2012)
  • Ernestynne Walsh (MSc) Measuring shear wave splitting using the Silver and Chan Method (2012)
  • Kylie Maxwell (MSc) Fisheries in the Ngati Kahungnu Rohe, New Zealand (2012)
  • Joe Luo (MSc) Multiple imputation on the Food, Nutrition and Environment Surveys 2007 and 2009 (2013)
  • Kath Large (MSc) Population changes in rattail species on the Chatham Rise (2014)
  • Lisa Woods (PhD) Bayesian Estimation Of A Phenotype Network Structure Using Reversible Jump Markov Chain Monte Carlo(2015)
  • Sima Rouhollahi Varnosafaderani (PhD) Modelling consecutive failures of repairable systems with applications in warranty cost analysis (2015)
  • Nevil Pierse (PhD, Otago) Statistical causality in participant-unblinded randomised community trials (2015)
  • Daniel Fernandez Martinez (PhD) Mixture nased clustering for the ordered stereotype model (2015)
  • Darcy Webber (PhD) Modelling complexity and uncertainty in fisheries stock assessment (2015)
  • Ruth Pirie (MSc ,Massey) Improving data collection for STI surveillance in New Zealand and examining patterns for sexually transmitted chlamydia infections and testing in the Bay of Plenty, 2003—2007
  • Yuki Fujita (MSc) Including covariates in ordinal clustering models (2016)
  • Roy Costilla (PhD) Clustering Ordinal Data with serial correlation
  • Nick Jury (MSc) Probabilistic matching of survey data


You can view a list of my publications through my Google Scholar profile

Teaching in 2020