Marti Anderson

Professor of Statistics

Imagine spending part of your working life diving along New Zealand’s beautiful coast, or sending cameras down to very deep depths in order to discover new species.

That is Marti Anderson’s life.Hagfish

The first woman in New Zealand to become a full-time professor in mathematics, statistics or computer science– and the youngest New Zealander to become a full professor in statistics, Marti’s making a real difference to our knowledge of biodiversity on planet earth.

From the crazy-looking ‘hagfish’ and Antarctic bacteria to endangered butterflies in Borneo, wolves in North America and fish in New Zealand, Marti Anderson and her unique software are influencing the development of wildlife reserves and animal protection all over the world.

Marti trained in marine biology and ecology in the United States and Australia, and has a master’s degree in Mathematical Statistics and a PhD in Marine Science from the University of Sydney. Today she’s Professor of Ecological Statistics at Massey University.

Professor Marti Anderson’s approach fuses biology and statistics. This is a relatively unique approach to science, encapsulated in the software she created: ‘PERMANOVA+’.

The essence of her speciality is called multivariate analysis – to analyse sets of numbers and how they vary.
“When you try to count numbers of individuals of different species, they are going to vary day-to-day. Some individuals die, more are born, or are eaten by prey.

Every single species is basically a variable – it has an average, a variance and a tendency to be highly aggregated, or not. Every species is different, yet species interact with one another, and it’s all happening at once.”

Today scientists the world over are using her methods and software to monitor and analyse marine and land-based communities.

Her other main area of interest is the design of experiments – especially sampling programmes to identify environmental impacts. To differentiate natural variation in a community from something unusual – like a human impact such as fishing or dredging or increased sediment loads – getting the sampling design right is essential.

Marti’s product and expertise are in growing demand worldwide.