I am a Senior Lecturer in statistics and data science with varied and interdisciplinary interests in applied and methodological statistics. My research expertise are in methodology and applications of statistical analysis of time series and spatial processes. I investigate natural events that evolve over space and time. Of particular interest are landslides, tropical cyclones, river flow, and  diseases. The statistical problems are wide rannging and complex.

Students are our core research strength. Mr. Yihong Mei recently won a national summer research scholarship (https://amsi.org.au/) to investigate differences in characteristic features of polar ice reduction. I am looking for students to compete for PhD scholarships internally and nationally. If you are interested please see below. 

Current Interests

My immediate interests fall into the following categories-

Statistical Methodology

  1. Modelling of spatial and temporal covariance structures.
  2. Computationally and statistically efficient models for natural hazards.
  3. Interface of maximum likelihood and interpretable machine learning algorithms for streaming data.


  1. Algorithms for landslide monitoring.
  2. Methods for detecting structural changes in neurological time series.
  3. Statistical variation in river flow and tropical cyclones.
  4. Spatial variation in tropical ecological process.
  5. Spatial epidemiology for infectious diseases and mental health.


Application and methods

  •  Monitoring and characterization of evolving statistical distribution of natural events. Landslides lead to heavy losses in life and property with alarming regularity. Developing nations, with relatively poor infrastructure and high residential density are particularly vulnerable. Statistically sound early warning systems can significantly help to mitigate risk to life and livelihood. Using spatial and time series data from ground based and low earth orbiting satellites we are investigating the construction of mechanistic and automatic algorithms for monitoring such events to offer early warning systems. 
  • Signature of EEG signals in neurological Is there 'natural' pathological clustering of brain channels in the event of neurological disorders such as epilepsy? We use statistical methods of time series and machine learning approaches to investigate and develop related tools.
  • Uncertainty in periodic environmental events Will the next ENSO return in 3 years, 5 years or would it be 8 years. Changing climate regime have rendered previous assumptions on periodic climatic events uncertain. We are investigating methods for estimating uncertainty of periodic natural events.
  • Language and odds of mental health disorders Handwritten or digital texts in the form of clinical prescriptions contain a wealth of information. Using modern language processing tools we are exploring ways to build text and sentiment based evidence for mental health to help facilitate public policy in Far North Queensland.


The following problems are often motivated bythe above applications.

  1. Non-stationarity in time series - Methods of collecting, processing and aggregating data have been undergoing a radical transformation in most scientific disciplines due to rapid advances in sensors and related ioT devices. Increasing precision, accuracy and cost-effectiveness of these devices have led to the collection and storage of burgeoning volumes of online spatial and temporal signals, in standardized format. These have opened up immensely possibilities for developing statistical methods for data science. Second order stationarity have been the mainstay in estimation and monitoring algorithms for time series and spatial processes
  2. Imputing missing values - Time series data on earth and environmental sciences disciplines are often sampled irregularly leading to missing observations. This poses challenge to statistical analysis of time series as conventional statistical methodology and follow on theories of time series have relied on regularly sampled time series data. But imputing missing values in multiple time series with serial correlation and seasonality is a non-trivial problem. This work is motivated by environmental factors as sea surface temperature, polar ice melting, cyclones, and climate indices.  
  3. AIC, BIC and Informatic criteria in a massive data world - The information content in Information theoretic criteria and other measures, AIC and BIC were originally proposed for nested model selection to determine the order of a time series, and were gradually expanded to a range of real observations generated from the exponential family distributions. Their appeal lie in their close relationship with entropy and the mutual information criteria.In a big data world, however, such criteria are being used indiscriminately in a wide range of supervised learning algorithms. Through simulated and real world data from – terrestrial and marine ecology and earth sciences - this project would investigate –
  1. The implications of applying AIC and BIC under mis-specified modelling.
    1. We study how they align with the idea of maximum Fisher information – the variance of score function.
    2. We consider and compare them against other Bayesian and frequentist alternatives.
  2. As a secondary outcome we would look into the broader questions of the significance of data/generative model assumptions on conventional machine learning classifiers. 


If you wish to pursue a PhD with me or want to have a discussion on some of my current research interests please contact me at sourav.das@jcu.edu.au. I am particularly keen to hear from students with background in one or more of the following- statistical analysis of time series, applied stochastic process, multivariate statistical methods, mixed effects modelling or spatial statistics.

  • MA1580: Foundations of Data Science (Level 1; CNS & TSV)
  • MA3405: Statistical Data Mining for Big Data (Level 3; CNS & TSV)
  • MA5405: Data Mining (Level 5; TSV)
  • MA5800: Foundations for Data Science (Level 5; CNS & ONL)
  • MA5810: Introduction to Data Mining (Level 5; CNS & ONL)
  • Algorithms for streaming data monitoring - land displacement, EEG, ECG, Seismic signals. Statistical models for environmental events - floods, precipitation, cyclones. Spatial and environmental epidemiology for mental health and infectious diseases.
  • 2022 to present - Senior Lecturer, Statistics and Data Science, James Cook University (Cairns, Australia)
  • 2019 to 2022 - Lecturer (Asst Prof.-US), Statistics and Data Science, James Cook University (Cairns, Australia)
  • 2017 to 2019 - Clinical Biostatistician, Royal Melbourne Hospital/ University of Melbourne (Melbourne, Australia)
  • 2015 to 2017 - Post Doctoral Research Associate, University of Bristol (Bristol, UK)
  • 2012 to 2015 - Research Fellow, National University of Singapore (Singapore)
  • 2007 to 2011 - PhD, University of Manchester (Manchester, UK)
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles
Conference Papers

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 15+ research outputs authored by Dr Sourav Das from 2014 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

Wet Tropics Management Authority - Contract Research

Research to inform yellow crazy ant management in the Wet Tropics

Indicative Funding
$2,207,607 over 5 years
Continuation and consolidation of four years of scientific activities to support yellow crazy ant eradication in the Wet Tropics (data analysis, monitoring non-target effects of baiting, probability of detection).
Lori Lach, Sourav Das, Peter Yeeles and Angela Strain (College of Science & Engineering)
Yellow Crazy Ants (Formicidae); Detection; Baiting; Population Dynamics; Wet Tropics World Heritage Area; Non-target effects

Australian Research Council - Discovery - Projects

Pyrogenic Carbon Sequestration in Australian Soils

Indicative Funding
$401,000 over 3 years
Pyrogenic Carbon (PyC; 'charcoal') is a porrly understood component of the global carbon cycle. It is important because it is resistant to degradation and hence has potential soil carbon sequestration benefits. This project applies a new technique (hydrogen pyrolysis) in combination with spectroscopic techniques to quantify PyC in a pan-Australian soil sample set, collected using uiniform stratified sampling and preparation protocols. This will enable the mapping of soil PyC stocks in relation to environmental and soil variables across Australia. The results will enable the understanding of the controls on PyC sequestration potential in Australian soils and contriobute to ongoing efforts to quantify soil stocks and dynamics globally.
Michael Bird and Sourav Das in collaboration with Jonathan Sanderman and Gustavo Saiz (College of Science & Engineering, Woodland Park Zoo and Universidad Catolica de la Santisima Concepcion)
Sequestration; Soil Carbon; Fire; Hydrogen Pyrolysis; Carbon Isotope

Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation - Research Grant

Health informatics for mental health at FNQ

Indicative Funding
$5,000 over 1 year
This project will construct a mental health database combining demographic, household economic, geographic and pharmaceutical information on 1000 unique emergency mental health related admissions at four FNQ Hospital and Health Services, Cairns, Townsville, Mount Isa and Atherton. The construction of the database will follow the relevant privacy and data security protocols. It would then be used for a more detailed evidence-based explanation of patterns and variation of incidents adjusting for confounding and contributing factors and offsets including economic and demographic factors such as age-stratified population, household income, existing co-morbidities and lifestyle choices.
Sourav Das and Alan Clough (College of Science & Engineering, College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
Mental Health; spatial epidemiology; health informatics

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

  • Using Weather Radars to Inform Data-Driven Irrigation Practices (Masters , Secondary Advisor)
  • A data-driven maintenance decision-making framework for engineering asset management using economic modelling techniques (PhD , Secondary Advisor)

The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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