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Government Statistics Section News for November

Wed, 11/01/2017 - 7:16am

The Government Statistics Section, Business and Economic Statistics Section, and Washington Statistical Society will sponsor the 2nd Seasonal Adjustment Practitioners Workshop (SAPW 2018). The workshop will take place April 26, 2018, at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in Washington, DC.

This workshop provides an opportunity for those who work with official statistics and seasonal adjustment to present interesting issues, problems, and applied research to a knowledgeable audience. Organized by the US Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is a one-day conference for public employees (and others) actively involved in seasonal adjustment. This is your opportunity to do the following:

  • Share experiences in producing seasonal adjustments
  • Give details of interesting problems and possible solutions
  • Discuss best practices in seasonal adjustment and time series modeling
  • Share lessons learned, tips, and shortcuts
  • Present applied research in seasonal adjustment practice

A call for papers and registration information is forthcoming. Send an email to esmd.seasonal.workshop@census.gov for more information or to volunteer to be on the program committee.

Ann Russey Cannon Named William D. Warde Statistics Education Award Recipient

Wed, 11/01/2017 - 7:00am

Ann Cannon accepts the Warde Award from Barry Nussbaum during this year’s JSM in Baltimore.

Ann Russey Cannon from Cornell College was named the 2017 recipient of the William D. Warde Statistics Education Award, which is presented by Mu Sigma Rho, the national honorary society for statistics. The annual award is given to a faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in classroom teaching in the statistics discipline and a lifetime devotion to statistics education.

Working within the intense schedule of Cornell’s one-course-at-a-time academic calendar, Cannon is nonetheless able to connect with each student. One student described her experience as follows:

Class with Professor Ann Cannon is like being at my family’s Thanksgiving dinner. There is always that really cool aunt who everyone wants to talk to because of her passionate, interesting life and career. All [throughout] dinner, I devote my efforts to making conversation with this aunt, trying to soak in every word said so I can someday apply what she is saying to my own life. These conversations are never boring. They aren’t forced. They may only happen a few times a year, but they always leave a lasting impression on me. Ann Cannon is this cool aunt at Cornell. Her lectures are these conversations.

Outside the classroom, Cannon has made major contributions to statistical education. Whether it is her service to the Section on Statistical Education or her position as assistant chief reader for AP Statistics, she advocates for quality statistical education and the needs of students. In everything, Cannon is student centered.

The award is named in honor of William Douglas Warde, who passed away unexpectedly in August 2010. Warde was a faculty member at Oklahoma State University for 42 years and a longtime national officer of Mu Sigma Rho. His energy and enthusiasm for the promotion of the discipline to students was second to none.

Mu Sigma Rho invites academic institutions to nominate outstanding teaching faculty for the 2018 Mu Sigma Rho William D. Warde Statistics Education Award. The recipient must have evidence of excellence in classroom teaching in the statistics discipline and a lifetime devotion to statistics education.

Each academic institution is allowed one nomination per year. In the event that more than one nomination is received from a single institution in a year, only the first will be considered. Any college or institution may nominate a potential recipient, regardless of whether the institution has an active Mu Sigma Rho chapter.
Each nomination should include the following:

  • A cover letter
  • The nominee’s curriculum vitae
  • A summary of the nominee’s teaching and educational activities
  • A draft of a citation briefly describing the nominee’s accomplishments
  • At least three, but no more than six, letters supporting the nomination (at least two from present or former students and one from a colleague)

If a nominee is not selected for the award, the nomination will remain active for three years after the initial submission, unless the institution chooses to put forward another nominee.

Nominations should be sent to Lisa Kay by February 15, 2018. All nomination material should be sent in a single PDF document.

The recipient of the award will be notified on or before March 15, 2018, and be presented with a plaque during the Sunday awards ceremony at JSM 2018 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Questions regarding this award should be emailed to Kay.

Biopharmaceutical Section Creates Scholarship Award

Wed, 11/01/2017 - 7:00am
Richard C. Zink, JMP Life Sciences

    Beginning in 2018, the Biopharmaceutical Section will offer a scholarship of $1,000 to three students annually as part of the ASA awards program. The goal of this award is to recognize notable research, academic achievement, and applied project work related to biopharmaceutical statistics. In addition, the award will consider general academic performance, leadership, volunteering, and service.

    Make sure to read about the section’s student paper competition, presented at the Joint Statistical Meetings. The deadline to submit the paper via PDF is December 11.

    Eligible applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and be enrolled in a master’s or doctoral program in statistics or biostatistics. Further, while membership in the Biopharmaceutical Section is not required (though membership is free for students), ASA membership is a requirement.

    Students can download an application and find submission instructions on the Biopharmaceutical Section website. Applications may be submitted from January 1 to March 15 each year.

    Winners will be announced in mid-April and included in the ASA awards program at the Joint Statistical Meetings.

    October Significance Features Great Migration of African Americans

    Wed, 11/01/2017 - 7:00am

    The October 2017 issue of Significance is out in print and digital formats. The cover story presents a graphical account of the Great Migration of African Americans in the century following their emancipation from slavery. The issue also features an article about the final resting place of William Playfair, who devised many of the statistical graphics in use today.

    Elsewhere, you will find the story of Frances Wood, a chemist and medical statistician of the early 20th century who achieved much in a tragically short lifetime. Also included is the winning article of the magazine’s 2017 writing competition for early-career statisticians.

    Access the digital version of Significance through Members Only or download and read the magazine on the go with the iOS and Android apps. If you are a print subscriber, your October issue will be arriving soon.

    Significance is online.

    Deadlines and Contact Information for ASA National Awards, Special Lectureships, and COPSS Awards

    Wed, 11/01/2017 - 7:00am

    The ASA’s extensive awards program recognizes statisticians who have made outstanding contributions through research, teaching, consulting, and service to the association and statistical profession.

    ASA Deming Lectureship

    November 15, 2017
    Nominations: awards@amstat.org
    Questions: Roger W. Hoerl

    COPSS Fisher Lectureship and Award

    December 15, 2017
    Nominations: http://community.amstat.org/copss/home

    ASA Noether Senior and Young Scholar Awards

    December 15, 2017
    Nominations: awards@amstat.org
    Questions: Ray Carroll

    ASA Monroe. G. Sirken Award in Interdisciplinary Survey Methods Research

    December 15, 2017
    Nominations: awards@amstat.org
    Questions: John L. Czajka

    COPSS Presidents’ Award

    January 15, 2018
    Nominations: http://community.amstat.org/copss/home

    COPSS F.N. David Award

    January 15, 2018
    Nominations: http://community.amstat.org/copss/home

    COPSS Snedecor Award

    January 15, 2018
    Nominations: http://community.amstat.org/copss/home

    ASA Karl E. Peace Award for Outstanding Statistical Contributions for the Betterment of Society

    February 1, 2018
    Nominations: awards@amstat.org
    Questions: Paul S. Albert

    ASA W. J. Dixon Award for Excellence in Statistical Consulting

    February 1, 2018
    Nominations: awards@amstat.org
    Questions: Frank Harrell

    ASA Causality in Statistics Education Award

    February 15, 2018
    Nominations and questions: educinfo@amstat.org

    ASA Harry V. Roberts Statistical Advocate of the Year Award

    February 15, 2018
    Nominations: awards@amstat.org
    Questions: Pandurang Kulkarni

    ASA Samuel S. Wilks Memorial Medal

    February 15, 2018
    Nominations: awards@amstat.org
    Questions: Steven G. Heeringa

    ASA Waller Distinguished Teaching Career Award

    February 15, 2018
    Nominations: awards@amstat.org
    Questions: Bradley A. Hartlaub

    ASA Waller Education Award

    February 15, 2018
    Nominations: awards@amstat.org
    Questions: Bradley A. Hartlaub

    ASA W. J. Youden Award in Interlaboratory Testing

    February 15, 2018
    Nominations: awards@amstat.org
    Questions: Blaza Toman

    ASA Statistics in Physical and Engineering Sciences Award

    February 20, 2018
    Nominations and questions: Ming Li

    ASA Gertrude M. Cox Scholarship

    February 23, 2018
    Nominations: awards@amstat.org
    Questions: Eloise E. Kaizar

    ASA Edward C. Bryant Scholarship

    March 1, 2018
    Nominations: awards@amstat.org
    Questions: Jill (Montaquila) DeMetteis

    ASA Excellence in Statistical Reporting Award

    March 1, 2018
    Nominations: awards@amstat.org
    Questions: Alan R. Tupek

    ASA Fellows

    March 1, 2018
    Nominations: www.amstat.org/awards
    Questions: Paul Gallo

    ASA Mentoring Award

    March 1, 2018
    Nominations: awards@amstat.org
    Questions: Barry Nussbaum

    ASA Outstanding Statistical Application Award

    March 1, 2018
    Nominations: awards@amstat.org
    Questions: Jung-Ying Tzeng

    Statistical Partnerships among Academe, Industry, and Government (SPAIG) Award

    March 1, 2018
    Nominations: awards@amstat.org
    Questions: Kelly Zou

    ASA Founders Award

    March 15, 2018
    Nominations: awards@amstat.org
    Questions: Barry Nussbaum

    ASA Biopharmaceutical Section Scholarship Award

    March 15, 2018
    Nominations: http://community.amstat.org/biop/awards/scholarship

    What Do Lucy D’Agostino McGowan and Ryan Jarrett Do When They Are Not Being Statisticians?

    Wed, 11/01/2017 - 7:00am
    This column focuses on what statisticians do when they are not being statisticians. If you would like to share your pastime with readers, please email Megan Murphy, Amstat News managing editor.

    Photo by Jonathan Chipman, Vanderbilt University

      Who are you, and what is your statistics position?

      Lucy D’Agostino McGowan, above left, and Ryan Jarrett are PhD students in the biostatistics department at Vanderbilt University.

      Tell us about what you like to do for fun when you are not being a statistician.

      We are working on building a life-sized replica of BB-8, an android character from the movie Star Wars: The force Awakens. We founded the Tennessee Chapter of the BB-8 Builders Club and have been working with a growing international online community toward this optimistic goal.

      What drew you to this hobby, and what keeps you interested?

      Lucy stumbled upon the community shortly before the release of The Force Awakens and was immediately hooked. The project involves a lot of skill we didn’t have, but were excited to learn (CAD, 3D printing, robotics, engineering, BB-8 pun-making, wooing the 3D printing lab to join in on our passion, etc.). This project has been particularly enjoyable because it is the perfect nerdy amalgamation of creativity and mathematics. We would say it’s BB-Great!

      Celebrating 20 Years of the AP Statistics Exam

      Wed, 11/01/2017 - 7:00am

      This year marked 20 years since the first AP Statistics exam was given in 1997 (and the 21st exam). In that time, the number of students taking the exam grew to 217,000, matching the growth of Calculus AB from about 100,000 to 300,000 in the same period.

      Amstat News commemorates these 20 years with the following Q&As with AP Statistics teachers and readers/leaders. Here, they share their memories of and passions and lessons for teaching statistics while looking forward to another 20 years.

      AP Leaders Heather Overstreet

      Franklin County High School

      Heather Overstreet has taught AP Statistics for 14 years and has been teaching high-school mathematics for the past 20 years. She has three children and loves watching them play sports.

      Years serving as an AP reader/leader: 10

      How many times have you been an AP Statistics reader/leader? When did you start?
      I have been an AP reader for the past 10 years: seven as a reader and three as a table leader. My first year was 2008.

      What do you enjoy most about being a reader?
      There are many things I love about being a reader—collaborating with other math teachers, attending the professional development, and especially being part of a process that assesses students’ abilities from a global standpoint.

      What changes have you seen over the years in terms of your fellow readers, the exam questions, and the students taking the exam?
      One of the major changes is the number of students who are taking the AP Statistics exam. When I began in 2008, I think there were just over 70,000 students taking the exam. This past year, there were well over 200,000 students taking the exam.

      Please share some favorite memories of being a reader.
      One of my favorite memories was being part of the acorn skit for the closing night party. Another favorite memory was realizing how many people shared my love for math and educating students. I have had some great conversations with fellow teachers that I have carried back to my own classroom. I have not found any other experience as a teacher as unique as this.



      Julia Sharp

      Colorado State University

      Julia Sharp is an associate professor and director of the Graybill Statistical Laboratory in the Department of Statistics at Colorado State University. She is currently serving as the chapter representative to the ASA Board of Directors.

      Years serving as an AP reader/leader: 7

      How many times have you been an AP Statistics reader/leader? When did you start?
      I served as an AP Statistics reader for five years and as an AP Statistics table leader for two years. I began in 2008.

      What do you enjoy most about being a reader?
      It is hard to choose just one thing I enjoy “most.” I enjoy the professional and personal development opportunities the reading has to offer. Getting to learn different ways of teaching introductory statistics and networking with professionals in the field has been deeply rewarding. I enjoy returning year after year to reconnect with friends I met at my very first reading or just last year.

      What changes have you seen over the years in terms of your fellow readers, the exam questions, and the students taking the exam?
      The number of readers and students taking the exam each year has increased substantially since my first year.

      Please share some favorite memories of being a reader.
      The reading has been in several venues since I began participating. Most recently, the reading has been in Kansas City, which has been surprisingly interesting and entertaining. My favorite location was Daytona Beach, of course. One year, two of my friends and I got a room that opened up near the beach area. Having a location that is interesting outside of the reading is great to refresh after a long day’s work!

      Is there anything else you would like to share?
      When people hear about the logistics and size of the reading, they cannot imagine the reading to be so rewarding. I have met and reconnected with lifelong friends at the reading and learned about statistics training in high schools and other universities, among other important professional and personal developments. I strongly encourage those [who are] interested to become an AP Statistics reader!



      Calvin L. Williams

      Clemson University

      Calvin Williams is director of the Center of Excellence for Mathematics and Science Education at Clemson University. He is a professor of mathematical sciences with interests in biostatistics and statistical computing. In addition to serving as an AP Statistics Question Leader, he has been involved as a mathematics judge in the Siemens Competition.

      Years serving as an AP reader/leader: 20 (only missed one year)

      How many times have you been an AP Statistics reader/leader? When did you start?
      Too many to count. I was at the very first reading at Trenton State (I still have a T-shirt with their logo on it). It eventually became The University of New Jersey or something like that. I have been to every reading except one. I had an assignment at the National Science Foundation that year that took precedent over my attending.

      What do you enjoy most about being a reader?
      When the exam was much smaller, being able to read the students’ responses and, AP Statistics being so new, watching the development of statistical thinking of the students and, more importantly, the growth of their teachers. I also have enjoyed seeing folks year after year who have the same goal in mind: developing a more statistically and quantitatively literate society. Also, it’s great to see so many friends year after year at the reading.

      What changes have you seen over the years in terms of your fellow readers, the exam questions, and the students taking the exam?
      Readers have grown in number, obviously, with the growth of the exam. They have become more knowledgeable about statistics.

      The exam has obviously grown in its coverage of statistics, as well as its provocativeness. Students are expected to be more statistically savvy than before (in the early days). This growth is expected since teachers have become more statistically savvy.

      The students’ abilities have grown with the growth of the exam. More polished responses, or more reasoned and thought-out responses, now appear more often.

      Please share some favorite reader memories.
      My great friend Dennis (from Vermont) that ran every morning. Dennis once said he had run every morning for the last 50 years or something like that. Missed him at the reading the last few years.

      Being in Nebraska. That was fun. The racetrack and the Friday night races. Bob Schmid (from Cal Poly) using his statistical knowledge in picking horses.

      Playing basketball with friends after a hard day of reading.

      Discussions I have had with my colleagues, the classroom activities I have learned, and—most importantly—the friends I have made are invaluable.



      Jonathan W. Duggins

      North Carolina State University

      Jonathan Duggins is a teaching assistant professor and coordinator of the Undergraduate Professional Partnership Program in the department of statistics at NC State University. Prior to his time there, he worked in industry as a biostatistician for several contract research organizations. He has always been dedicated to education, and that is his main role at NCSU, where he teaches several courses with an emphasis on statistical programming languages.

      Years serving as an AP reader/leader: 11

      How many times have you been an AP Statistics reader/leader? When did you start?
      My first year as a reader was in 2007, and I’ve served as a reader or table leader every year since!

      What do you enjoy most about being a reader?
      Easy question—the professional collaboration. This experience has been the most professionally rewarding aspect of my career.

      What changes have you seen over the years in terms of your fellow readers, the exam questions, and the students taking the exam?
      The students have improved their ability to think critically about data. As a result, the questions have been able to evolve without changing the content being assessed. In particular, it has provided the opportunity to expose students to questions about simulations that tie concepts of probability and inference in a way I don’t recall in the earlier exams I was part of.

      As for my fellow readers, they’ve stayed amazing. (Is that a cop out?) We’ve adapted to the growth in the program by growing the support networks we maintain. From email lists to websites full of high-quality resources, there has been an explosion of resources available. The fact that it is almost always a teacher providing help above and beyond the expectations of their “day job” just makes it more impressive.

      Please share some favorite reader memories.
      Oh, man, there are too many to list. The statistics readers are very fond of our chief readers and one way we show that fondness is through impersonations. Getting to watch the impersonations of Chris Franklin, Alan Rossman, and Jessica Utts is certainly one of the fondest memories. Another was the year the roof started leaking and there was, quite literally, a waterfall that suddenly appeared in the middle of the convention center. It was remarkable that the readers knew to protect the exams first; that was devotion!

      As far as professional memories go, the one that sticks with me is from my first year. During some downtime, a reader at my room casually mentioned they weren’t confident about a statistical concept that was beyond the scope of the AP curriculum, but which students occasionally asked about. I and another reader helped explain the concept and worked with the AP teacher until they felt more comfortable answering questions. That feeling of collegiality is certainly one of my favorites. (Second only to the waterfall one!)

      Is there anything else you would like to share?
      I’ve made great friends and learned a tremendous amount from the AP reader community; join us!



      Paul Rodriguez

      Troy High School

      Paul Rodriguez has taught AP Statistics since 1997 and currently teaches at Troy High School. He has been involved with the AP reading since 2004 as a reader, table leader, and rubric member. Paul loves learning and sharing ideas from other readers.

      Years serving as an AP reader/leader: 14

      How many times have you been an AP Statistics reader/leader? When did you start?
      I have been a reader or a table leader for the past 13 years. I started in 2004 in Lincoln, Nebraska, and was a reader for six years. I have been a table leader for the past seven years, including five years as a rubric team member. I am currently serving in my fourth year as the co-chair of the Test Development Committee, which is responsible for writing the exam questions.

      What do you enjoy most about being a reader?
      The best part of a being involved is meeting teachers from around the country and sharing teaching strategies and best practices. Also, learning about new activities to use in my classroom, including having conversations with the authors of the textbook I use. I have never gone to a reading, a conference, or other gathering of statistics teachers where I have not learned something to make me a better teacher.

      What changes have you seen over the years in terms of your fellow readers, the exam questions, and the students taking the exam?
      When I started in 2004, there were approximately 248 readers and 36 table leaders. That year, we graded almost 68,000 exams. Last year, there were more than 900 readers and table leaders who graded more than 210,000 exams. The course continues to grow, and I am proud to be part of it.

      Please share some favorite reader memories.
      There are so many great memories over the past 13 years, almost too many to count. Last year, almost 20 teachers shared activities at our Best Practices Night.

      Is there anything else you would like to share?
      Becoming an AP reader was the best decision I made in my 24-year teaching career. The discussions I have had with my colleagues, the classroom activities I have learned, and—most importantly—the friends I have made are invaluable.



      AP Statistics Teachers Paul Buckley

      Gonzaga College High School

      Paul Buckley has been teaching math for 24 years. For 20 years, he has taught at and started the AP Statistics program at his alma mater, Gonzaga College High School in Washington, DC. He has been a reader and table leader for the AP Statistics exam for 10 years and has consulted on multiple statistics textbooks.

      Years teaching AP Statistics: 16

      How did you become an AP Statistics teacher?
      I took over our honors statistics class toward the end of one year because the woman teaching it went on maternity leave. The next year, she didn’t want the course, so I took it over, just still as an honors statistics course. At the end of the year, I realized the guys could be taking the AP Statistics exam, so I asked our administration if we could make it an AP course, and we did. So thus I became an AP Statistics teacher.

      What most excites you about teaching statistics?
      I love the activities we get to use to highlight some of the concepts. They are incredibly engaging and fun for the class. I also enjoy how the kids take to the material, especially when they see how useful it is and it is in everything they see and do. It makes them buying into the course that much easier.

      What are the biggest challenges of teaching AP Statistics?
      One of the biggest challenges is deciding which cool activities to do and which ones have to be left out—there is only so much time, and you can’t do them all. The other tricky part is the disparity in mathematical ability. Unlike in other upper-level math courses, my students come from a wide range of algebraic backgrounds. Some are coming from Algebra 2, some have already passed AP Calculus BC. So having that disparity makes it tricky sometimes—making sure I reach everyone while also keeping everyone interested.

      Describe how your time as an AP Statistics teacher has affected your mindset as an educator.
      I am much more in tune with how and why I assess, and in trying to give really good summative assessment questions. I also look for more ways to make the material applicable to them—it is easy to do in AP Statistics, less so in other courses. But I try to bring that mindset into those other courses.

      Please share any personal stories about students or AP Statistics teachers.
      I have had numerous students come up to me to tell me this was either their favorite math class or their favorite class overall. I also hear back from kids in college who tell me they are now acing their college-level statistics class.

      I have a group of AP Statistics teacher friends who are some of my best friends—we talk all the time, trading ideas about classes and AP Statistics specifically. I get some of my best ideas from them and they have helped me become a better teacher overall. They care about what they do, and that is infectious and challenges me to be a better teacher. I think AP Statistics teachers are a pretty special group of educators, and I am honored to be a part of them.

      What are your favorite AP Statistics lessons/activities?

      • The German Tank Problem
      • Hershey’s Kisses
      • The Parking Lottery
      • Which Putter Would You Use?
      • The Reese’s Pieces applet

      So many—and more are being created all the time!

      What has changed the most for the AP Statistics course while you’ve been teaching it? What changes would you like to see in the future?
      The emphasis on true understanding of the thought process, rather than just plugging generic answers into a bland template. The encouragement of thoughtful discourse, rather than rote regurgitation. The students are much more being challenged to think, to decide, and then to defend that decision. I think this bodes well for them in the future, as they will be more accomplished and more thoughtful decision makers.

      What advice do you have for new AP Statistics teachers or schools starting to offer AP Statistics? For AP Statistics students?
      For teachers: Get connected. There is a great social network of statistics teachers out there who can offer support, resources, and ideas to new AP Statistics teachers/programs. Do a Summer Institute offered by AP—I did two of them and they gave me the head start I needed. Join the AP Statistics listserv. Become an AP Statistics reader—that is the biggest thing. Find other AP Statistics teachers out there and learn from them—they are there to help, and they are able and willing to do so.

      For students: Take AP Statistics—it could very well be the most valuable course you take in high school—don’t miss out. And don’t be surprised when you see how relevant and how much fun it is. I would hate to say I told you so, but …



      Mary R. Simons

      Smyrna High School

      Mary Simons recently moved to Richmond, Virginia, with her husband and two sons, Logan and Levi. In her free time, she watches Clemson football, reads, and cooks. She is currently in training to become a court-appointed special advocate for children.

      Years teaching AP Statistics: 11

      How did you become an AP Statistics teacher?
      In 2005, I was teaching at Paint Branch High School in Burtonsville, Maryland, when our department head asked if anyone would be willing to attend AP training over the summer and take over AP Statistics from one of our department members who was transferring to another school in the district. Having been on the statistics curriculum development and textbook adoption committee in my previous district, I jumped at the chance! I was able to attend an amazing week-long AP training at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, taught by Monica Brogan (who I would get the chance to reintroduce myself to eight years later when I happened to sit next to her at breakfast one morning during the AP reading).

      What most excites you about teaching statistics?
      I love the accessible nature of the course. I have been fortunate to teach in three school districts that have open enrollment policies for AP courses. In AP Statistics in particular, that means I could end up with a classroom of students from widely different math backgrounds—from on-level Algebra II to AP BC Calculus!

      As anyone who has taken or taught the course knows, it is unlike anything else the vast majority of students have ever experienced. As such, it is also the first time most of my students have been on equal footing in a math class since they were in elementary school. AP Statistics is a great equalizer in a way that few academic classes are in high school. There is no guarantee anymore that the BC Calculus kids are going to outperform the Algebra II kids (especially not if the latter are working overtime as if they have something to prove). That shift in the power dynamic of the typical intellectual pecking order allows me to start to create cognitive dissonance from the time the class begins. This struggle is necessary to stimulate intellectual curiosity and growth and facilitate my students becoming independent quantitative investigators.

      What are the biggest challenges of teaching AP Statistics?
      In my experience, some students register for the course because they have run out of math classes to take or they are trying to avoid “real” math classes, as they put it. AP Statistics, however, is not as simple as students expect! While the required level of theoretical mathematical knowledge is not as intense as [it is for] AP Calculus, the nuanced level of sophistication required in communicating free response answers or synthesizing strategy for an investigative task is a brand-new ball game.

      Please share any personal stories about students or AP Statistics teachers.
      I have spent one week during each of the last five summers “reading” AP Statistics exams with 850 of my closest friends in Kansas City, Missouri. As I sit here trying to choose just one or two things to share, I find I can’t narrow it down. Anyone reading this month’s Amstat News must be a fellow statistics geek or related to me (hi, Mom!). So, 99.99% of you will understand what I mean when I say there is just something about statistics people. Now imagine getting to spend an entire week at summer camp (yes, we do grade exams all day, but that’s really beside the point) with 850 other adults who are as awesome and weird and fun as you are! The depth of camaraderie among the readers, level of professional development in the trainings, strength of the friendships I’ve made, and sheer ridiculousness of our social shenanigans are all beyond compare.

      What advice do you have for new AP Statistics Teachers or schools starting to offer AP Statistics? For AP Statistics students?
      My biggest piece of advice for new AP Statistics teachers would be to recognize up front that you are going to spend a lot of time feeling uncomfortable with the subject matter and, therefore, questioning yourself and your ability to do well with the course. This is okay! The AP Statistics teacher community is huge, welcoming, and a great source of materials and information. Use that to your advantage. Don’t feel like you have to create assessments and activities from scratch. (There are so many resources available that sometimes you may have trouble sifting through them all and deciding what to use.) Just remember to stay organized, push through the discomfort of a new curriculum, and enjoy learning and growing alongside your students. Trust the process!



      Sammy Gutierrez

      Boston Community Leadership Academy

      Sammy Gutierrez is an MIT graduate with 12 years as a Boston Public Schools teacher at Boston Community Leadership Academy (10 years AP Calculus; seven years AP Statistics). He has been an AP Statistics reader for the past three years.

      Years teaching AP Statistics: 7

      What most excites you and other AP Statistics teachers (e.g., biggest rewards) about teaching statistics?
      What excites me most about teaching AP Statistics is that it is everywhere. Open up a newspaper or news link and you’re looking at statistics. Being able to teach students what this information means and how to dig through what is meaningful is unlike any other course.

      What are AP Statistics teachers’ biggest challenges?
      The biggest challenge I face is getting our top-performing students to take AP Statistics, as these students are more likely to take AP Calculus. Then, when I do get these students, I spend countless hours counseling them that they are indeed learning math in statistics.

      What has changed the most for AP Statistics teachers over the last 20 years?
      I feel that growth of AP Statistics has changed the most. AP Statistics always seemed like a secondary course in the past, while now it is a course guidance counselors and colleges are pushing students to take.

      Please share any personal stories about students or AP Statistics teachers.
      When I first started teaching AP Calculus 10 years ago, I also taught a non-AP section. Within this non-AP course, I found that most all of these students fell into one of two categories. The students could have been successful and passed AP Calculus, or calculus was too demanding for the students, even though they were great students with great study habits. By introducing AP Statistics into our school, the students who would once take non-AP Calculus and struggle day to day are now flourishing in AP Statistics.

      What are your favorite AP Statistics lessons/activities?
      While there are many actives I enjoy that get the students into the collection of data, nothing beats the end-of-year activity where students are able to put together everything they’ve learned to study a topic personal to them.

      What has changed the most for AP Statistics while you’ve been teaching it? What needs to change?
      In the time I have been teaching AP Statistics, the biggest change has been the collaboration between teachers not only within my school district but on the national level, as well. If I have a question on a topic, be it understanding or an idea of an activity, I can reach out to the AP Statistics community and have 20 responses before the day is done.

      What advice do you have for new AP Statistics teachers or students?
      The best advice I can give new teachers is to attend personal development lessons and work with current and former AP Statistics teachers, especially those who have attended the AP reading. Textbooks and online lessons are great, but nothing is more amazing than going to a training and having the author of your textbook work with you on the curriculum. Finally, as soon as you possibly can, apply to be an AP reader, as you will get more out of one reading than years upon years of teaching.



      Doug Tyson

      Central York High School

      Doug Tyson has been teaching for more than 25 years and currently teaches AP Statistics, Introduction to Statistics, and Statistical Reasoning in Sports. He serves on the ASA /NCTM Joint Committee on Curriculum in Statistics and Probability, works as a table leader at the AP Statistics reading, and runs workshops and teacher training events. 

      Years teaching AP Statistics: 15

      How did you become an AP Statistics teacher?
      Like many other high-school statistics teachers, I started teaching AP Statistics because there was a need, not because I had a burning interest in the course. Our previous AP Statistics teacher left for another job, and the math department needed someone to take over. When a volunteer was asked to step forward, the rest of the department took one step backward. I stood still, so I was the teacher. The important thing to note here was that I started teaching AP Statistics through indecisiveness. It was the best non-decision I’ve ever made about my teaching career. I now teach only statistics courses and I love it!

      What most excites you about teaching statistics?
      Data and context. I’m interested in the world around me, and I find my students are, too. Data are everywhere and in everything my students like to do, so we look at data from all kinds of contexts that interest them.

      Teaching statistics gives me a huge advantage as a teacher because curiosity is built right into the curriculum. If you just get out of the way of the data, students are engaged. Ask the right questions and students are fascinated.

      What are the biggest challenges of teaching AP Statistics?
      Readers of Amstat News know statistics is a big field and growing bigger. The AP Statistics curriculum is also very big. The greatest challenge of teaching AP Statistics is figuring out how to get so many good statistical habits and concepts into one course without overwhelming students. The curriculum includes data collection, descriptive statistics, probability and random variables, basic inference for means and proportions, and inference for associations between two variables. Students are expected to write clearly and justify their reasoning. I like to describe the course as the intersection of mathematics, science, and technical writing. That’s a lot to put into one course, but it’s a great course!

      Describe how your time as an AP Statistics teacher has affected your mindset as an educator.
      Statistics is both an art and a science, so I try to maintain a mindset that reflects this reality. Data are often subtle. Statistics offers rules-of-thumb more than iron-clad laws. As a teacher, I have shifted my mindset to encourage even more inquiry in my classes. Because my class is based on almost entirely real data, I foster a sense of wonder and interest in the larger world.

      Please share any personal stories about students or AP Statistics teachers.
      My favorite stories are about students who aren’t sure they can handle AP Statistics. I have had many of these students, and I am professionally rewarded when they do well in the course. For many, it’s their first AP course and they’re not sure if they can handle the workload and content. AP Statistics requires no calculus, so it’s accessible to many students. I love it when students tell me, “I never thought I could do well in an AP math course.” And yes, I make sure they understand that it’s not exactly a mathematics course.

      What are your favorite AP Statistics lessons/activities?
      Two of my favorites are “Smelling Parkinson’s Disease” and “Show Me the Money.” The first question on the first day of class is “Can Joy Milne smell Parkinson’s Disease?” Joy claims she can smell it. To test her claim, researchers gave Joy 12 identical shirts, six of which were worn by Parkinson’s patients and six of which were worn by people without Parkinson’s Disease. We use a simulation to conduct a randomization test. The conclusion is, yes, Joy can smell Parkinson’s Disease (and I’d bet my next paycheck on it). There is also a really nice surprise in the lesson: It appears Joy identified 11 of the shirts correctly when she in fact identified 12 correctly. That lesson gets students hooked on the importance of the subject and the power of statistical methods to shed light on situations involving uncertainty and chance. If you would like to try this lesson with your students, see my video and accompanying resources.

      The “Show Me the Money” lesson is about the importance of random sampling. The context is the top 200 movies (by box office ticket sales) of the previous year. Movies are fun, so students get excited. The activity works in an early look at a simulated sampling distribution—on Day 2 of the course no less! I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the spirit of this activity was drawn from the teaching style and ideas of Allan Rossman and Beth Chance. They are amazing statistics educators.

      What has changed the most for the AP Statistics course while you’ve been teaching it? What changes would you like to see in the future?
      The course description and topic outline haven’t changed. That is a testament to the original designers of the course. I think the most recent significant change has been an increased emphasis on the difference between random sampling and random assignment and how that affects the kinds of inferential conclusions that can be drawn. Past exams generally asked about inference only for sampling, while more recent exams have included inference for experiments. This is a huge conceptual difference and an important one for even the most casual user of statistics.

      In the future, the course would do well to address re-randomization in inference. I was slow to adopt this view, but I’ve been convinced that these are important tools and should have some place in an introductory course. The idea of randomization tests is already in the curriculum, but not the idea of bootstrapping. I’d like to see a little more attention to these ideas.

      One other area is the idea of multiple predictors. It’s natural for students to think about multiple predictors, and we never really address it. Just acknowledging the existence of multiple regression and showing [the students] such a model might suffice. They could make some predictions using the model and calculate residuals. We don’t need to go too far down that trail, though. For example, the problem of multicollinearity would be far too much for a first course in statistics.

      What advice do you have for new AP Statistics Teachers or schools starting to offer AP Statistics? For AP Statistics students?
      To teachers, I would offer the following advice:

      • Don’t be afraid to admit to yourself, other AP teachers, and your students that some of the material is subtle and you’re still learning statistics.
      • Real data are subtle and often break rules-of-thumb. Be wary of inviolate rules in statistics, as they are often really rules-of-thumb in disguise.
      • Think deeply about the ideas. Get your students to do the same.
      • Ask questions on the AP Statistics Teacher Community. It’s a safe place to learn. There are lots of really knowledgeable people there; I know some of them, and they’re really nice people. And they were all new statistics teachers at one point in their lives.
      • Read everything about statistics you can get your hands on, even if you don’t yet understand all of it.
      • Develop a sense of wonder about the world around you. Develop the same in your students. Statistics (in one view) is about understanding the world based on measurable evidence. The world is your laboratory and playground. Have fun!

      To students, I would offer this advice:

      • Go beyond calculation. Think about the interpretations of the numbers and what they mean in context.
      • Work hard on your writing. Explaining technical information in a way that others can understand is a very valuable skill.
      • Ask questions. Don’t worry that you don’t have perfect answers to those questions right away.
      • Read everything about statistics you can get your hands on, even if you don’t yet understand all of it.
      • Develop a sense of wonder about the world around you. Statistics (in one view) is about understanding the world based on measurable evidence. The world is your laboratory and playground. Have fun!

      Yes, the last two listed for teachers and students are the same. And why shouldn’t they be?



      Vicki A. Lyons

      Lone Peak High School

      Vicki Lyons is in her 24th year teaching mathematics and statistics. She is a Presidential Awardee (Utah 2015) and a BYU Distinguished Mathematics Educator (2016). Her focus is helping students develop strong logical foundations through relevant understanding and practiced skill.

      Years teaching AP Statistics: 18

      What most excites you and other AP Statistics teachers (e.g., biggest rewards) about teaching statistics?
      Practicality. Nowadays, the world of competitive advantage runs on statistics. To stay viable and current, modern companies and organizations must not only meet the needs of their constituency, but they must also be able to predict what their members and those they serve or produce for will want in the future. These organizations must be able to refine their competitive advantage and, to do that, they need to understand and be able to analyze data. In other words, they need to know statistics! Thus, no matter what field my students pursue in their careers, they will need to understand and be able to use statistics.

      I feel I have the great opportunity to help my students gain a strong statistical foundation that will effectively benefit their potential. I truly feel my students will “see” statistics just about every day for the rest of their lives. It will always be an advantage to them to be able to use the knowledge they gain from their AP Statistics course not only in their future careers, but also as citizens to help them analyze evidence and make sense of important issues and as consumers to help them use their resources to make wise plans and decisions. Thus, for my students, the statistical knowledge they gain has great practicality for their future.

      From a more immediate perspective, my former students will many times come visit me and tell [me] that, during their college/university years, they used the statistical knowledge they gained in their AP Statistics class more than any other subject they studied while in high school. The statistics they understood was relevant to many subjects, from biology and the sciences to education, computer programming, sports, psychology, political science, and business. Just about every subject they studied used data and statistical knowledge in significant and practical ways.

      What are AP Statistics teachers’ biggest challenges?
      My biggest challenge in teaching statistics is the wide variety of backgrounds my students have. Some of my students scored a five on the AP Calculus BC exam the year before taking my statistics class, and other students barely passed their algebra class. Some of my students have strong analytical skills, and other students have a hard time writing a sensible paragraph. This diversity makes it a challenge for me to meet the academic needs of all my students at the same time and from the same perspective. I constantly work to involve all my students in activities that are accessible to their readiness to learn and that will help them make wise, appropriate, and useful sense of statistical practices.

      What has changed the most for AP Statistics teachers over the last 20 years?
      From my perspective, the AP Statistics course has become more specific and particular. Nowadays, students must be exacting and careful as they write their answers on their assignments and exams. When I first started teaching AP Statistics, students still needed to be careful when writing their solutions, but specific wording was not looked for as much as it is on current exams. These days, students must critically analyze situations and be precise in their descriptions.

      I am happy the AP Statistics course and exam seem more and more to demand this high level of expertise from my students, since I want my students to be better prepared for the practicality and usefulness of statistics in the “real” world. Thus, by demanding high levels of statistical analysis, I think the AP Statistics course is becoming more and more useful to my students in a real and modernly useful way. Successful completion of the course and earning high levels of credit demands that my students obtain a high-level critical proficiency.

      Please share any personal stories about students or AP Statistics teachers.
      Many of my students do not enjoy statistics. They liked the mathematical certainty of the calculus they took the year previous, and they find all the writing and analysis in statistics to be tedious. However, by the end of the year, when we have finished statistical inference, most of my students have a greater sense of the value of statistics and are grateful for the knowledge they have gained.

      I remember one student in particular who could not have been happier when she was finished with the AP Statistics course and felt so much that it had been such a waste of her time, even though she passed the AP Statistics exam and earned college credit. She was a student who did not enjoy statistics the entire year of her coursework and was happy to let everyone know how much she resented taking statistics. Four years later, this same student came running up to greet me at a local Costco. She couldn’t wait to tell me how she had majored in biology and just got accepted for an advanced degree in a biostatistics program at a major university. She went on and on about how important statistics was in the biological field and how excited she was to continue her studies. She was so very, very grateful for the statistics she learned in high school. That knowledge gave her ready insights into her college biology classes and she found herself intrigued by biological research. Sometimes, you just never know your students’ possibilities.

      What are your favorite AP Statistics lessons/activities?
      I have so many favorite AP Statistics lessons and activities. From a workshop with Christine Franklin, I learned an activity that I adopted and currently helps my students develop a concrete understanding of deviations, the mean absolute deviation, and standard deviations. From a workshop with Gail Burrill, I learned an activity that I always use with my students to help them understand margins of error and confidence intervals. We do several activities from Workshop Statistics, which are all so pertinent and fun. In fact, during most class periods, my students do some activity that helps them make better sense of statistics.

      What has changed the most for AP Statistics while you’ve been teaching AP Statistics? What needs to change?
      One thing that has changed the most since I began teaching AP Statistics is access to great textbooks and materials to help high-school teachers teach statistics. When I first started teaching statistics, there were good college-level textbooks, but these books had little appeal to high-school students. Now, we have excellent texts to help our students learn statistics. Current texts have great examples that appeal to teenagers, practical exercises to help our students practice their skills, references to technology skills, and colorful, contemporary pages that entice our students to study and learn.

      What advice do you have for new AP Statistics teachers, schools starting to teach AP Statistics, or students?
      Get involved in the online AP Statistics Teacher Community. Also, attend lectures and workshops and learn from the very best AP Statistics teachers and leaders. AP Statistics teachers are a welcoming community, and they are always willing to share great lessons and activities. There is so very much great information and good ideas to help AP Statistics teachers. Find activities and lessons that can involve your students in important ways that help them make good sense of statistical practices. Try out these ideas and activities with your students. Find what works best for you and your students and incorporate these into your curriculum on behalf of your students. Teaching AP Statistics can be rewarding and so fun as you help your students become capable and successful users of valuable and practical statistical knowledge.



      Daren Starnes

      The Lawrenceville School

      Daren Starnes is mathematics department chair at The Lawrenceville School and the coauthor of two popular high-school statistics texts. He has led more than 100 workshops for AP Statistics teachers and been an AP Statistics exam reader since 1998.

      Years teaching AP Statistics: 21

      How did you become an AP Statistics teacher?
      I volunteered in a department meeting back in the spring of 1996 to launch AP Statistics at Charlotte Country Day School in lieu of teaching a section of repeat Algebra 1. What a great decision that turned out to be!

      What most excites you about teaching statistics?
      The fact that we are preparing our students to make informed decisions based on data, risk, and statistical studies in their adult lives.

      What are the biggest challenges of teaching AP Statistics?
      Helping students communicate sound statistical reasoning precisely and concisely. AP Statistics requires students to think carefully and to construct effective arguments using appropriate evidence.

      Describe how your time as an AP Statistics teacher has affected your mindset as an educator.
      Because my undergraduate and graduate degrees were both in pure mathematics, AP Statistics has represented a big step outside my comfort zone. Over 21 years teaching the course, I’ve consistently found the need to learn more about what lies just beyond the edges of the AP Statistics syllabus. Getting involved in AP Statistics has helped me model lifelong learning for my students.

      Please share any personal stories about students or AP Statistics teachers.
      I have been truly blessed by the many outstanding students who have taken my AP Statistics class since the course was launched in 1996–1997. Their curiosity, enthusiasm, and desire to learn has motivated me to become a better teacher—and to keep learning more myself.

      What are your favorite AP Statistics lessons/activities?
      I still love introducing students to the Central Limit Theorem. Using an online applet, students can uncover this amazing result for themselves. Especially when they start with their own “custom” population distribution, students are genuinely amazed as they watch the sampling distribution of approach a normal distribution as the sample size increases.

      I’m equally fond of having students use hands-on simulations to determine whether an observed difference between two experimental groups is statistically significant.

      What has changed the most for the AP Statistics course while you’ve been teaching it? What changes would you like to see in the future?
      What has changed: (1) The availability of high-quality, web-based applets for analyzing data, performing simulations, and investigating statistical concepts; (2) the emergence of data science and Big Data as adjuncts to statistics.

      Changes I would like to see: (1) More emphasis on having students use statistical software to analyze data in the process of answering a question of interest; (2) increased use of simulation-based inference techniques.

      What advice do you have for new AP Statistics Teachers or schools starting to offer AP Statistics? For AP Statistics students?
      For teachers/schools: Teacher training is especially important in AP Statistics because so many of those who are asked to teach the course do not have extensive backgrounds in statistics. A College Board–approved AP Summer Institute is a terrific launch pad for new AP Statistics teachers.

      To the students: AP Statistics will be the most useful math course you have ever taken. It will open your eyes and your mind to how people make important decisions in the face of uncertainty.



      Adérito Pires

      Ludlow High School

      Adérito Pires is a Ludlow High School math and statistics teacher. He has been teaching for 12 years and teaching Advanced Placement Statistics for five years. With a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Westfield State College and a master’s in math education, he is now teaching at his alma mater as part of the adjunct faculty.

      Years teaching AP Statistics: 5

      How did you become an AP Statistics teacher?
      Back in 2010, as an alternative to pre-calculus, we developed a statistics curriculum for students. Shortly after, we joined Mass Insight via a grant and implemented Advanced Placement as some other AP and honors courses. Since I had a lot of input in the original course, I was asked if I wanted to teach it by our department chair—to whom I said, “Yes.”

      What most excites you about teaching statistics?
      I enjoy teaching statistics [because] the content can be applied to various fields, especially the ones that my students are looking into as future careers. Since a lot of statistics can be developed with technology, [it] seems to have a stronger purpose for the student’s learning, as well.

      What are the biggest challenges of teaching AP Statistics?
      AP Statistics is very demanding in regard to rigorous grading and creating effective activities. Having students pre-read the text has also been a challenge, along with my keeping a timeline for the course and being able to adhere to it.

      Describe how your time as an AP Statistics teacher has affected your mindset as an educator.
      I have become more aware of how to mention topics. Most being new material, it would be detrimental to say mistaken definitions, for example. A small deviation from the actual meaning might lead to incorrect conclusions. Overall, just being more aware of data that might be misused to convey erroneous conclusions.

      What are your favorite AP Statistics lessons/activities?
      I enjoy teaching the Normal model, as it is one of the totally new concepts for students and [I] can see them become engaged differently. At the end of the year, we do summative videos for future students taking the course; those are fun, too.

      What has changed the most for the AP Statistics course while you’ve been teaching it? What changes would you like to see in the future?
      There have not been many changes since I have been teaching the course. The original change from College Preparatory Statistics to Advanced Placement Statistics was the most change I had to adjust to.

      What advice do you have for new AP Statistics teachers or schools starting to offer AP Statistics? For current/future AP Statistics students?
      Adhere to a timeline to ensure all content is covered. Become a member of various organizations to be conscious of what is out there in the statistics world. Create an account and be a member of the College Board AP Community, as it becomes beneficial to learning how to approach a topic, gathering alternative activities, and touching base with other colleagues.

      Call for Nominations: ASA Journal Editors

      Wed, 11/01/2017 - 7:00am

      The American Statistical Association and its publishing partners are calling for nominations and applications for editor of the following journals:

      • JASA Applications and Case Studies
      • Journal of Business & Economic Statistics (co-editors)
      • Journal of Computational and Graphical Statistics
      • Journal of Statistics Education
      • Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics (co-editors)
      • Journal of Nonparametric Statistics
      • Journal of Survey Statistics and Methodology
      • Statistics and Public Policy
      • Technometrics 

      For more information, including job descriptions and deadlines, email ASA Journals Manager Eric Sampson.

      Musings of a Baby Boomer Data Science Learner

      Wed, 11/01/2017 - 7:00am
      This column is written for statisticians with master’s degrees and highlights areas of employment that will benefit statisticians at the master’s level. Comments and suggestions should be sent to Megan Murphy, Amstat News managing editor.

      Bill Bentley is the owner and president of Value-Train, a consulting and training business. His Atlanta-area company was started in 2002 and provides data analytics and process improvement consulting and training. Primary training topics include Six Sigma, Lean, and applied quantitative methods. Besides his degrees, Bentley holds three SAS certifications, an R in data analytics certification, and an Informs Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) certification.

      Why did I put my successful consulting practice on simmer to go back to college? At my age—I’ll admit to being over 50—what were my goals? Why did I join the growing number of seniors pursuing new college degrees? How did my university handle me and the few others close to my age?

      In short, I am a curious person who is eager for new knowledge and experiences. I have a BS and MS in electrical engineering, I am one credit shy of an MBA, and I have a long and successful career doing advanced computer automation and engineering—later in management to the CEO level.

      After 9/11, I built a successful process improvement training and consulting practice. Recent consulting jobs required building statistical models and doing other statistics-related work. One of the courses I regularly teach is Six Sigma Black Belt, which is essentially a less-detailed version of an applied statistics course. I have a natural understanding of statistical techniques and when to use them. My curiosity led me to check out the kinds of jobs available for those with degrees in applied statistics.

      Jobs advertised by more than 350 companies in my city alone—using job titles such as data analyst; quantitative analyst; big data guru; data engineer; programmer in SAS, R, SQL, and Python; and sometimes just statistician—led me to believe an MS in applied statistics would be a worthwhile addition to my knowledge base.

      After interviewing all the local programs, I chose Kennesaw State University near Atlanta, where I live. I decided their program was by far the best in the area for my purposes, even though the commute was terrible. Though giving up most of my own training and consulting to concentrate full time on the degree did take loss of income and guts on my part, I was excited and energized to be among others eager for knowledge and career advancement.

      I am a lifelong learner, but hadn’t gone for a degree in years. Professors weren’t sure of my intentions, and some thought I was simply taking up space while filling my time. Half-way into the program, I made appointments with each professor and the department head to explain my purpose in being in their program. I will not say their eyes lit up with understanding, but some professors began to take me more seriously.

      According to NBC news, the percent of older college students going back to school for degrees is rising faster than the growth rate of traditional college students pursuing a degree program. But do colleges know how to handle their senior students? If my experience is typical, they have a long way to go.

      Had I been less motivated, I may have chosen to audit classes rather than continuing for the degree. Instead of becoming discouraged, I sat in the front row, paid attention, and asked most of the questions. I soon realized my younger, inexperienced fellow students didn’t have business or life knowledge to ask certain questions and appreciated me being in their class. I began to build study teams for my own and the younger students’ benefit. I challenged myself and my professors every step of the way.

      My goals were clear. I wanted to solve problems for companies while using my many skills. My maturity and experience are valuable. Working and contributing to society will keep me vital and active. I love to learn, I am not afraid of new experiences, and I feel more alive when I am working.

      Unfortunately, a poorly hidden scourge in society and the workplace is age discrimination. I was surprised to find it in my college setting. Not from students, but from the professors. I thought professors would welcome an older, stable, and experienced student thirsting for knowledge. I thought they would admire my grit and determination.

      Professors seemed ill-equipped to handle their older students. I received smiles and nodding heads. When I asked for help or direction in finding jobs needing my new degree, they had nothing useful to offer despite boasting of their high employment rate for graduates. Their focus and claims were only on full-time starter jobs for typical college graduates. Administration seemed oblivious to me and others in my age group. Faculty seemed to think us oddities. Job opportunities via the school were zero. Fortunately, while I hoped for more career support, I expected none and got none, so it’s good I planned to tackle that task alone. So far, so good!

      When asked by a professor if I was there to kill time in retirement, I was insulted at the lack of awareness and sensitivity. To put a successful self-employment business on hold to earn a degree and accomplish a strategic professional goal was an expensive decision. One observation I had was that some college programs may see re-educated seniors as competition for their own private and university consulting practices.

      So, though many seniors are active, vibrant, capable, and wanting to work and contribute, my observation is that some traditional universities lag in ability to deal with those who want to learn at the college level. The New York Times had an interesting piece online that discussed how universities are preparing for a senior boom in enrollment. Some universities are way ahead of others. Stanford has created a $65,000 program for successful seniors who are returning to college to advance or re-invent themselves, simply to help them choose a direction to go in. Wow!

      My education was not a waste of time or resources; it was inspiring and I’m glad I did it. I am confident my new MSAS degree and accompanying multiple SAS and other certifications will be valuable to my clients. Though I am on my own with my new degree, I am excited and optimistic. My university experience was mostly positive. In the future, though, when I next return to college, I hope my professors are better trained and more welcoming and understanding of seniors like me. And I hope the one senior-focused facility I found has better hours. They did have a room where ‘mature learners’ could study, use computers, and enjoy free coffee and tea. It closed at 5 p.m., but nearly all the graduate program classes started at 6:30 p.m. They got it right for the older undergraduates, but not for the advanced learners. Nice try though!

      Physical and Engineering Sciences Section News for November

      Wed, 11/01/2017 - 7:00am
      Jennifer Kensler, SPES Awards Chair

        The Section on Physical and Engineering Sciences honored the following presenters with the Outstanding Presentation Award at JSM 2017 in Baltimore:

        First Place, Outstanding Presentation Award

        Jin Tao, University of Florida, for “A Statistical Framework for Power Theft Detection in Smart Grid Networks”

        Runner-Up, Outstanding Presentation Award

        Martin Bezener, Stat-Ease, Inc., for “Strategies for Mixture-Design Space Augmentation”

        Honorable Mentions

        Jiayu Peng, Penn State University, for “Design of Order-of-Addition Experiments Under the Pairwise-Order Framework”

        Jonathan Stallings, North Carolina State University, for “Designing for What’s Important: A Comparison of Bayesian and General Weighted Optimality Criteria”

        The outstanding presentation awards encourage excellence in presentation and have helped raise the SPES contributed sessions to a higher level. All awards are based on audience evaluations of each speaker. Winners receive a certificate and a cash award. The awards for the 2017 JSM best presentations will be presented at the SPES mixer during the 2018 meetings in Vancouver, British Columbia.

        Serving Your Community Through Data Analysis

        Wed, 11/01/2017 - 7:00am
        This column is written for anyone engaged in or interested in statistical consulting. It includes articles ranging from what starting a consulting business would entail to what could be taught in a consulting course. If you have ideas for articles, contact the ASA’s Section on Statistical Consulting’s publications officer, Mary Kwasny.

        With a PhD in statistical astrophysics, David Corliss works in analytics architecture at Ford Motor Company while continuing astrophysics research on the side. He serves on the steering committee for the Conference on Statistical Practice and president-elect of the Detroit Chapter. He is the founder of Peace-Work, a volunteer cooperative of statisticians and data scientists providing analytic support for charitable groups and applying statistical methods to issue-driven advocacy in poverty, education, and social justice.

        As small businesses providing a service, consultants often are deeply embedded in the communities they serve—whether defined by a local geographic area, industry, or other characteristic. One way in which a growing number of statistical consultants serve their communities today is through pro bono work for good causes and organizations.

        In many professions, pro bono work is an ordinary—even expected—part of the job. While physicians and attorneys are well known for their professional commitment to volunteer work, many other professions have strong connections to serving their communities in this way. In recent years, volunteer work in statistics and data science have become much more common. This “Data for Good” movement has been embraced by individuals, companies, and professional associations.

        There are many organizations working in Data for Good, including the ASA volunteer outreach group Statistics without Borders. Working with a volunteer organization offers many advantages: connecting people to volunteer projects and groups needing assistance and providing mentoring, software support, project planning, and opportunities to work on larger projects. However, working as a consultant offers substantial advantages.

        Independent consultants have complete creative control of methodology and analytic practices, greater flexibility in which analytic tools are used, and the ability to work with a circle of friends in familiar surroundings. Individual volunteer projects can be less formal, without a definite timeline, and often can be put on the shelf for a while and restarted when more time is available.

        After many years of volunteering as an individual consultant, I founded Peace-Work to crowd-source volunteer hours within the statistics community to support projects in issue-driven advocacy. Many of Peace-Work’s analyses focus on the ugly side of Data for Good—current projects include using mixed models to analyze human trafficking by state and mining hate speech in social media to predict violence. However, much of the work is a direct descendant of a consultant project on a more cheerful subject: helping a local Habitat for Humanity chapter find more volunteers and donors.

        Individual consultants make up the largest part of the Data for Good movement. Often, a personal connection to a group needing statistical help is the most important factor in matching people and projects. The Habitat for Humanity project began in 2005 while I was consulting at Ford Motor Company, which has a long history of community involvement. One of the marketing managers and I volunteered for the local Habitat for Humanity chapter. After volunteering on a number of construction projects and getting to know the chapter’s board of directors, a conversation began with my Ford colleague about how statistical analysis could help the organization.

        Usually with statistical volunteering projects, an organization is doing really good things and has data, but not the analytic resources required to leverage it. The organization knows its mission, people, and data, but is unfamiliar with statistical methodology. They usually lack statistical software, so the consultant needs to bring this to the table. Also, because these charitable organizations need to focus their few hard dollars on other needs, paying to acquire additional data sources usually is not an option. This requires the consultant to blend the organization’s data with publicly available sources.

        The process with Habitat for Humanity was conducted in much the same way as for ordinary for-pay consulting projects. Discussion with the Habitat for Humanity team identified the points they were concerned about the most. Like many organizations, Western Wayne County Habitat for Humanity needed better ways to find more volunteers and donors. As a result, this case study may be especially helpful to other organizations where statisticians can provide analytics support.

        After showing the Habitat for Humanity team how to anonymize a contact list using mocked-up data, the team stripped PII (personally identifiable information) from their volunteer and donor lists and provided a copy. As the data never left the organization, this step may not have been strictly necessary, but it is strongly recommended as a best practice. Nothing can go wrong with the data you never receive. Summary counts of Habitat for Humanity construction volunteers and donors at the municipality level were combined with Census Bureau data.

        Geographic analysis quickly revealed most of the support for the chapter came from a small portion of their geographic area, with many cities largely unreached. An affluence scale was developed to combine demographics data into a single score that best correlated with the per capita number of donors and volunteers. A cluster analysis on this score binned the communities into three groups based on level of charitable need in the community and their ability to meet it. Looking at the entire area, instead of one small part where most of the board members lived, produced a list of communities to target where the organization had little presence.

        In addition to finding places to recruit more donors and volunteers, the analysis revealed the houses were very poor, with weak infrastructure and especially poor schools, where the local Habitat for Humanity group was building. This produced a recommendation to build houses in a different, neighboring community, where the families would receive more support and the children would attend better schools—doing more good for the families in new homes, even if the land prices there were somewhat higher.

        This project tells the story of how most statistical volunteering by consultants and other unaffiliated individuals happens: A person is already helping an organization in a nonstatistical way—working at the public library; walking dogs at the local animal shelter; or volunteering at a school, house of worship, or community center. Individual statistical volunteering happens when people with analytic skills know how those skills can be used to help the organizations and causes they already support.

        Participation in the growing Data for Good movement provides opportunities to use our statistical skills to support the organizations, projects, and causes we care about the most. As the movement continues to grow, we can envision a day when pro bono activity becomes normative—an ordinary part of a statistical career. Participation from everyone is encouraged, from students to the most experienced and entry-level analytic workers to top executives. Sharing your skills for the greater good can be part of everyone’s career journey. Where is your place?

        Kelly H. Zou on Real-World Evidence

        Sun, 10/01/2017 - 3:06pm
        Richard Zink, JMP Life Sciences

         

        In the Biopharmaceutical Section’s podcasts, key opinion leaders from the pharmaceutical industry and regulatory agencies talk about current issues and upcoming statistical conferences. In the most recent podcast, Richard Zink spoke with Kelly Zou real-world data.

        Kelly H. Zou is senior director and analytic science lead at Pfizer Inc. She is a Fellow of the American Statistical Association and an Accredited Professional Statistician. She has published extensively on clinical and methodological topics.

         

        How did you become interested in statistics?

        I grew up in Asia in my hometown of Shanghai, China, where students tend to receive a solid quantitative education during their teenage years. I majored in mathematics and minored in physics during my undergraduate school years, followed by a combined master’s and PhD degree in statistics.

        I stumbled onto statistics as a discipline by “chance,” although perhaps not as a completely random event. I took a course in probability as a math major and was very much intrigued by the concept of “uncertainty.” Navigating in the face of uncertainty toward decisiveness is the recurring theme when dealing with real-world data (RWD).

        I recall that laboratory reports in my physics classes often contained linear and nonlinear regression analyses. This training to seek signals and patterns out of a set of data points was quite beneficial for becoming a statistical lead (as my last job function) and later an analytic science lead (as my current job function).

        I had several jobs in two sectors from academia to industry. My research topics and applications range from receiver operating characteristic analysis, validation of predictive modeling, Bayesian hierarchical methods, image analysis, time series, pragmatic trials, and observational studies, just to name a few.

        Can you give us a bit more detail about your current responsibilities at Pfizer?

        Currently, I am senior director and analytic science lead in a center of excellence, named Real-World Data and Analytics, in the Patient and Health Impact organization within Pfizer Inc.

        My usual days are filled with being part of various cross-functional teams and interacting with talented subject-matter experts, data scientists, statisticians, and programmers. I work closely with multiple stakeholders to leverage RWD by collaborating with health economics outcomes researchers, market access colleagues, medical and clinical colleagues, epidemiologists, and collaborative liaisons to other organizations.

        Besides multiple therapeutic and product areas, I interact with colleagues in the Asia-Pacific region and in China as a large country. Understanding various policies on privacy protection, data access, storage, linkage, and regulatory landscapes is of great importance.

        Collaborating and presenting on RWD-based topics at national and international conferences would take place from time to time.

        You’re also very active with the ASA. Can you describe the various activities in which you’re involved?

        I became an elected Fellow of the American Statistical Association in 2012. Currently, I chair the ASA Statistical Partnerships among Academe, Industry, and Government (SPAIG) Committee. It has a three-year term. The SPAIG committee aims to identify, lead, and promote initiatives that foster statistical partnerships or collaborations between two or more entities across academic, industry, and/or government sectors.

        I also serve as the chair-elect and incoming chair of the ASA Health Care Policy Statistics Section (HPSS). The HPSS section focuses on strategies for improving the quality and reducing the cost of health care in the United States and abroad through the systematic use of quantitative statistical methods.

        Since the ASA is an organizational affiliate of AcademyHealth, my current three-year role as a member of its Methods Council may bring extra interactions and knowledge in RWD and other related areas.

        Big Data and RWE are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but what do these terms mean in practice?

        Based on Section 3022 of the 21st Century Cures Act, “the term ‘real world evidence’ [RWE] means data regarding the usage, or the potential benefits or risks, of a drug derived from sources other than randomized clinical trials.”

        According to the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR), RWD “reflects data used for decision-making that are not collected in conventional RCTs [randomized controlled trials].”

        The term “big data” is a popular term to characterize the four Vs: volume, velocity, variety, and veracity.

        The first documented use of the term “big data” appeared in an article by NASA scientists in October 1997.

        A summary of the history of big data can be found in media.

        Big data is defined by its volume, which tends to be too high to be readily processed by standard database management or processing tools … its variety, velocity, and veracity of its accrual. In practice, RWD can be big data when vast in quantity and multiple sources are combined.

        There is increased interest in using RWE in medical product development. Can you discuss what has led to this interest and the improved acceptability of using these types of data in regulatory decision-making?

        Medical product development and clinical research rely on sound and solid evidence. The gold standard is randomized controlled trials. The RCTs are designed and conducted to assess the efficacy and safety to support approvals.

        Beyond traditional RCTs, comparative effectiveness research is an essential tool for generating, gathering, and comparing evidence on the effectiveness of therapies and products. Outside the RCT world, other designs are frequently seen in the real world. Such designs include pragmatic trials where the randomization agent (e.g., counseling) may not be active medications versus the placebo, besides observational studies with non-RCT data.

        The increasing digitization of health records, health insurance plans, and over-the-counter transactions and patients expressing their preferences through diaries or surveys have resulted in an accumulation of data. The recent explosion of digitized health care information and the wealth of databases call for efforts to build collaborative consortia, integrated delivery networks, and distributed networks. These non-RCT data can be considered as RWD for the purpose of generating insights and evidence.

        What are some of the challenges of RWD (quality, interoperability, IC/privacy/security, bias/randomization, missingness, others)?

        There are several challenges from the “evidence” standpoint. They not only require subject-matter knowledge, but also quantitative analytic expertise to deal with unstructured and structured data. Missing data mechanisms, data qualities, and other potential biases would occur.

        Beyond statistical considerations, RWD require advances in technology, infrastructure, access, storage, linkage, algorithms, tools, connectivity, linkage, and—above all—a vision for the future in terms of information flow and management.

        Despite the challenges of RWD, what are some of the perceived benefits of incorporating this information into the development process, both from a sponsor and regulatory perspective (if you can provide it)? In other words, how will the inclusion of RWE improve upon the current medical product development process?

        Below are a few observations in the era of RWD and big data:

        • Recent explosion of digitized health care information would call for efforts to build collaborative consortia, integrated delivery networks, and distributed networks.
        • RWD is essential for supporting value-based agreements such as outcomes-based contracting and indication-specific pricing.
        • Payers and health technology assessment (HTA) agencies have been using RWD to inform formularies, pricing, and market access.
        • Regulatory agencies and HTA bodies still have mixed views on how to leverage RWE in their decision-making processes.
        What are some of the sources of RWE (EHR, claims, hospital, registries, and surveillance systems)?

        An ISPOR taskforce has defined real-world data, which “reflects data used for decision-making that are not collected in conventional RCTs.”

        The sources of RWD are: (1) supplements to traditional registration RCTs; (2) large simple trials (also called practical clinical trials); (3) registries; (4) administrative data; (5) health surveys; (6) electronic health records (EHRs); and medical chart reviews.

        There are several ways in which one might characterize RWD. One characterization is by type of outcome—clinical, economic, and patient-reported outcomes. The other characterization relies on evidence hierarchies.

        There are numerous wearable technologies that are available to collect data. How has the proliferation of these new technologies impacted data collection and analysis (patient adherence)?

        Digital innovations may enable direct feeds from devices and wearables for capturing RWD. The Internet of Things has provided great opportunities to collect data. For example, micro-randomized trials in mobile health (mHealth) may be designed prospectively for real-time experiments in which treatment assignments may be randomized at fractions of occasions over time.

        There are legal challenges such as the definition of the age of majority across different states in the US. Technologies due to IoT, social media, sensors, devices, and gadgets will require novel software tools, analytic approaches, and statistical algorithms.

        Can you summarize some of the challenges regarding analysis of RWD?

        In short, as RWD can and tend to be big data, analytic challenges alone arise from the four Vs: (1) volume; (2) velocity; (3) variety; and (4) veracity.

        Several other challenges are needed for policies, regulations, infrastructure, business environment, generalizability, and insights to actions.

        Deloitte Center for Health Solutions has recommended the following next steps following its RWE benchmark survey results:

        • Developing an end-to-end evidence strategy that cuts across the entire product lifecycle
        • Designing and implementing a platform and operating model that are grounded in an enterprise strategy to support working with RWE across functions and franchises
        • Developing a data strategy and organizational capability to engage in external partnerships with health care system stakeholders to gain access to and integration of the right data
        • Employing data scientists with diverse backgrounds to challenge conventional ways of doing things
        Final question, and you get to look into the future and tell us what you see. What do you envision are the major changes to medical product development and the regulatory environment in the next 5–10 years?

        RWE is a key component of the 21st Century Cures Act. In the next decade, it may increasingly be used to support research and development such as RCT optimization and patient recruitment.

        Regulatory guidelines on RWE may be expanded.

        RWE may also be used in combination with artificial intelligence to define and target the right patient population and subpopulations via precision medicine.

        The access of and linkage among RWD across various sources may pose challenges to governments and health care providers. Data lakes and cloud storage may bring more collaborative opportunities across different sectors (e.g., public-private or government-academia), as well as patient privacy and data security concerns and debates.

        New technologies and automation may be necessary to aid processes and workflows for gaining insights.

        Editor’s Note: Kelly H. Zou is an employee of Pfizer Inc. Views and opinions expressed in this interview are Zou’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Pfizer Inc.

        Economics, Statistics, and Ethical Guidelines

        Sun, 10/01/2017 - 1:36pm

        What guidance is provided by ethical guidelines for professional practice in economics and statistics and data science?

          Dear Amstat News,

          The article by professor Rochelle Tractenberg on “ethical guidelines” in the May 2017 Amstat News was interesting, but the information about guidelines for economists was not up-to-date.

          Several years ago, the National Association for Business Economics (NABE), a professional association with more than 2,500 members, introduced a program to become a “Certified Business Economist” (CBE). Successful candidates are required to be familiar with NABE’s “Professional Ethics Guidelines,” which are spelled out on the NABE website. In addition, this year, the CBE program is being offered in the graduate economics programs at Boston College, Brandeis International Business School, The George Washington University, and the University of Cincinnati, as well as in the undergraduate program at John Carroll University.

          Also, in 2012, the larger American Economics Association issued guidelines for articles appearing in their journals. However, these guidelines appear to cover only conflicts of interest, and do not cover other professional activities of its members.

          I think ASA members should be informed about recent activities on ethics by professional organizations of economists, which whom they frequently collaborate.

          Sincerely,
          Robert Parker
          Consultant and ASA Fellow

          RESPONSE Rochelle E. Tractenberg and George F. DeMartino

            Rochelle E. Tractenberg is a professor in the departments of neurology, biostatistics, bioinformatics, biomathematics, and rehabilitation medicine at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. She is a PStat®, Fellow of the ASA, and chair of the ASA Committee on Professional Ethics.

            George F. DeMartino is a professor of international economics and co-director of the program in global finance, trade, and economic integration in the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver.

            In a May 2017 column (“Advocating for Ethical Guidelines Strengthens Statisticians, Data Analysts”), one of us (Tractenberg) described a symposium at the 2017 AAAS annual meeting that was organized specifically “to highlight the crucial ways ethical professional practice is essential to promoting ethical policy and decision-making.” The May 2017 column included a summary of themes that emerged during that AAAS symposium, namely pointing out that the other of us (DeMartino) argued the field of economics has neither “guidance” nor “guidelines” when it comes to professional practice.

            We appreciate the informative response provided by an ASA Fellow who is also an economist. This ASA member pointed out that the National Association of Business Economics (NABE) adopted professional guidelines in 2010. Individuals who seek to become “Certified Business Economists” (CBE), an accreditation that became available in 2012, are required to sign and adhere to the CBE Professional Ethics Guidelines. To date, of NABE’s 2,500 members, about 130 individuals have been awarded the CBE designation.

            The NABE initiative is commendable, and we are happy to correct the record here. In adopting its guidelines, NABE joins several smaller economic associations in taking up the challenge of thinking through their professional responsibilities. The leader in this regard is the 550-member National Association of Forensic Economists (NAFE). Its Statement of Ethical Principles and Principles of Professional Practice resulted from careful discussions among its members. Equally important, NAFE views its statement as central to its mission and it promotes examination of and debate over these principles in its journal and other activities. In these ways, the NAFE helps to ensure their statement is not a dead letter.

            Other associations around the world are now just beginning to move in similar directions. The hope is that their initiatives will begin to normalize the idea that economists face nontrivial, daunting ethical duties that the profession must engage if it is to fulfill its obligations to its members and those whose lives are affected by economists’ practice.

            One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: The American Economic Association and the Situation Across Economics

            But, in our view, economics has a long, long way to go to achieve that goal. Although difficult to count, there are between 21,500 (Bureau of Labor Statistics estimate from 2014) and 27,000 (estimated in The Economist’s Oath) economists working in the United States. Of these, about 12,500 work in academia, with the rest spread across government and private, multilateral, and nonprofit sectors.

            To date (July 2017), of NABE’s 2,500 members, about 130 individuals have been awarded the CBE designation, meaning 5.2% of NABE membership is known to have read and agreed to their guidelines. Considering NABE CBE holders and NAFE membership (n=630) within the population of economists in the US (n=27,000), 2.3% of active economists would definitely be aware of the NAFE and NABE initiatives.

            In contrast to NABE and NAFE, the largest and most important professional association for economists, the American Economic Association (AEA), has 18,000 members. What the AEA does reverberates throughout the profession. Its journals are top ranked, its officers and board members are recipients of the most prestigious prizes and hold the most coveted academic positions, and—in various ways—its practices and norms diffuse throughout the profession.

            It is for this reason it is such a tragedy that the AEA has distanced itself from any serious engagement with the matter of professional economic ethics. There’s no need to hedge here: The AEA does not provide ethical guidance of any sort for its members.

            The AEA does have a requirement that economists publishing in one of the AEA journals disclose potential conflicts of interest (COI) that might arise from funding sources for their research, coupled with the recommendation that economists disclose COI in their other work.

            The AEA disclosure guidelines have been around for some time. They were strengthened in 2012 in response to stinging criticism from the business press following the release of the documentary Inside Job and other research (here and here) demonstrating that leading economists who wrote reports and testified before the US Congress on financial policy matters in the lead up to and following the crisis of 2008 routinely failed to disclose that they were paid by those with financial interests in their results.

            Just as the film was released, DeMartino’s book, The Economist’s Oath, was published. It called out the profession for its ethical lapses and advocated the creation of the new field of professional economic ethics. In response to the brouhaha, the AEA Executive Council established an ad hoc ethics committee to investigate its responsibilities and potential courses of action. The result of the committee’s efforts was the strengthened disclosure rules. The committee was then disbanded.

            Beyond that, the AEA has never in its 130-year history (and up to today) provided an ethical code or statement of ethical principles or issued suggestions, instructions, or ethical guidance of any sort. It has no journal—or even a bulletin—that engages the matter of professional economic ethics, no professional ethicists (as we find in professions that take the matter seriously), and no regular ethics committee. Also, it sponsors no conferences on economists’ professional responsibilities.

            Moreover, the leading economic departments at universities across the US have no curriculum in ethical practice, and they provide no ethical training whatsoever to new initiates to the profession who will quickly exert substantial influence over thinking about economic policy. Indeed, the AEA leadership has dismissed out of hand calls to advance professional economic ethics, as DeMartino chronicles in The Economist’s Oath.

            The AEA’s view, in short, is that having clarified and strengthened its COI disclosure rules for its journals in 2012, its ethical work is done. Importantly, whether this is or is not AEA’s view, its activities are perceived as such. Many leading economists concur with this view. Possibly, they would also hold to the view so firmly articulated recently by former World Bank Chief Economist Anne Krueger in her scathing review of the new Oxford Handbook of Professional Economic Ethics (which DeMartino co-edited with Deirdre McCloskey). She argues that attending to ethical issues would stall economic projects that badly need doing—as if thinking through the ethical entailments of economic practice was simply a foot-dragging strategy that interferes with economists’ professional practice.

            The AEA treatment of professional ethics reflects a naïve sensibility that has, by now, thankfully been displaced in those professions that take ethics seriously. Its endurance in economics is a consequence of the immature state of professional ethical thinking and even willful ignorance in the profession. Unfortunately, non-economists unwittingly bear the consequences of that naiveté.

            How Does This Compare with the Situation in Statistics?

            The 2014 Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated there were 30,000 statisticians in the United States. Like the NABE, the ASA also requires that Accredited Professional Statisticians (PStat®) and graduate-level (GStat) statisticians are familiar with—and agree to uphold—the ASA Ethical Guidelines for Statistical Practice.

            Assuming that only those who are required to actually have read and follow the guidelines, and given that there are roughly 400 current holders of PStat and GStat, about 2.2% of an estimated 19,000 ASA members are specifically asked to follow the guidelines. This number must be the lower bound on the estimate, but amounts to about 1.3% of the statisticians in the US.

            By comparison, the Royal Statistical Society’s (RSS) Code of Conduct is “mandatory” for all professionally qualified Fellows of the RSS (equivalent to the ASA’s PStat/GStat designations). In spite of this mandate, like the ASA, only those who are accredited are known to have agreed to read and abide by the ethical guidelines; as of July 26, 2017, 27% of RSS Fellows are thus mandated to follow their code. Similarly, given their current accreditation numbers, 18% of members of the Statistical Society of Canada (SSC) are known to have read and agreed to follow their guidelines.

            So, the issue that was pointed out in the original (incorrect) characterization of the AAAS session about ethical guidance and guidelines for the domain of economics was that there was none; the implicit message was that the domain of statistics and data science is better off because the ASA, RSS, and SSC do have them. Instead, while the NABE has more than twice the “acceptance rate” of their ethical code (5.2% of the 2,500 NABE members are known to have agreed to abide by them) than what can be confidently claimed for the ASA guidelines (2.2% of 19,000 ASA members), an astonishingly low level of guidance is actually being offered by both codes for practitioners to whom those codes should be familiar and by which practitioners should feel empowered.

            Professional Ethics: Cultivating Ethical Professional Identities

            Merriam-Webster defines “professionalism” as comprising “the skill, good judgment, and polite behavior that is expected from a person who is trained to do a job well” and “the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person.”

            These characteristics may (or may not) resonate with readers, but researchers in the field of professional identity development point out that “… the sense of being a professional … the use of professional judgment and reasoning … critical self-evaluation and self-directed learning …” (Paterson et al. 2002. “Clinical Reasoning and Self‐Directed Learning: Key Dimensions in Professional Education and Professional Socialisation.” Focus on Health Professional Education) and “(p)rofessional identity formation means becoming aware of … what values and interests shape decision-making.” (Trede, F. 2012. “Role of Work-Integrated Learning in Developing Professionalism and Professional Identity.” Asia-Pacific Journal of Cooperative Education). We cannot assume that if a professional association creates a set of core professional conduct principles, even if these are reflected in a mission statement, that they have any hope of seeping into the consciousness and habits of mind of current or future practitioners. The American Statistical Association has revised its Ethical Guidelines for Statistical Practice, explicitly articulating that, “(t)he principles expressed here should guide both those whose primary occupation is statistics and those in all other disciplines who use statistical methods in their professional work … comprising statisticians at all levels of the profession and members of other professions who utilize and report statistical analyses and their implications.”

            The original STATtr@k post may have inadvertently created the perception that, “while economics has neither guidance nor guidelines, statistics and data science has both.” As is hopefully much clearer now, while there are clear and highly relevant guidelines for professional practice for statistics and data science, the amount of actual guidance the ASA ethical guidelines can be inferred to be providing is low—too low for comfort.

            While it may be true that economics, as a field, must do a better job of committing itself to “normalizing the idea that economists face nontrivial, daunting ethical duties that the profession must engage if it is to fulfill its obligations to its members and those whose lives are affected by economists’ practice,” the AEA “ethical guidelines” will not be enough. True normalization requires that new practitioners see this engagement, and must learn how to engage with those duties themselves.

            The ASA has taken steps to achieve this normalization, having established professional practice guidelines going back to the mid-1970s. Articulating the “guidelines and guidance” as the ASA has done is necessary, but not sufficient. We need to engage all practitioners in statistics and data science, whose ethical professional conduct we hope to support, in contributing to the same normalization we hope to see one day for economics.

            The ASA Committee on Professional Ethics is working (2017–2019) on a series of case studies that can be used to teach ethical statistical practice to all those the ASA ethical guidelines are intended to support. With the assistance of the ASA Board and the Professional Issues and Visibility Council, the committee is also exploring ways to build “normalization”—and guidance—that our Ethical Guidelines for Statistical Practice can and do represent.

            Obituary: Myron Tribus

            Sun, 10/01/2017 - 1:33pm
            Myron Tribus Submitted by Nicholas Fisher and Norbert Vogel

              Myron Tribus―an American engineer, bureaucrat, inventor, management expert, scholar, educator, and longtime member of the American Statistical Association―was a key figure in the transformation of Australian industry in the 1980s and 1990s. His work lives on most notably through business excellence awards around the world and his profound, practical influence on people from all walks of life. He passed away on August 31, 2016.

              In the early 1980s, Australian industry entered a transformational phase that resulted in a major change to the way organizations were led. The quality management / total quality management (TQM) movement that had started to roll across American business after the 1980 NBC documentary If Japan Can … Why Can’t We? brought W. Edwards Deming and his work into public view. The documentary had yet to reach Australia, however. In the manufacturing sector, tariff support for local industry had been in place for many years. Then, the Australian government announced a five-year ‘steel industry plan’ that entailed a progressive reduction in tariffs as a means of forcing the industry to improve its competitiveness in world markets.

              Within the steel industry, John Lysaght Australia had dominated the manufacture of metal-coated and pre-painted sheet steel for many years, and loss of market share in an emerging environment of global competition dawned as a very real prospect. Lysaght (later acquired by BHP Steel and more recently established as Bluescope Steel) set about benchmarking practices and performance of potential competitors around the globe. This work showed that, by any measure―productivity, quality, safety, cost―Australian industry would not be able to compete in an open market. Further, since local sheet steel manufacturing facilities were state-of-the art and technologically advanced, the cause of inferior levels of performance lay elsewhere. Attention turned to the company’s outdated management concepts and techniques.

              Teams of senior managers were sent to the USA, Japan, Germany, Korea, and South Africa to learn more about their management practices. The findings led to a major initiative to reform Australian management practices, particularly at the level of executive leadership. In particular, recognized international experts were brought to Australia. One of these was Myron Tribus.

              Myron’s first visit in the mid-1980s was profoundly influential. In meetings with the most senior officers of the company, his direct questioning approach (e.g., asking the board chair and the CEO “What are you doing, personally, to drive change through the organization?”) led to profound rethinking by the leadership about their roles and how they discharged them. It laid the foundation for moving to a culture of continuous improvement for which he also provided practical tools and knowledge. (At the shop floor level, he would ask a foreman, “What is your second-highest improvement priority?”)

              The company also arranged for Myron to deliver a series of “Tribus Lectures” for managers and employees of BHP Steel’s customers. These were not actually lectures. When asked what he would charge, he responded, “If I’m simply to give a lecture, then I should be paid as an entertainer. However, if I can run them as question-and-answer sessions, then there is no fee.” So, the condition of entry was a question about management written on a file card. Myron would then study the cards in advance of the lecture and respond to the principal issues.

              In fact, he had been employing this approach for many years and acquired a collection of some 60,000 questions. In analyzing these, he found they could be classified under six broad headings relating to leadership, customers, suppliers, people, processes, and planning. It was this remarkable insight that provided the basis for the development in the late 1980s of the Baldrige Awards in the USA and, in parallel, the Australian Business Excellence framework, with its principles focusing on just these areas.

              Myron was born in San Francisco on October 30, 1921. His father, Edward Lefkowitz—from an Austrian or German Jewish immigrant family—enlisted in the army and died when Myron was just a baby. His mother, Marie Kramer—from a family of Hungarian Jewish immigrants—was a short-hand typist who subsequently married Julius Tribus, but had no other children.

              An outstanding student, Myron completed secondary school two years early and enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley at the age of 16. He graduated at the age of 21 with a BA in chemistry (and a black belt in Judo). Following this, he was a captain in the US Air Force during World War II, working as a design-development officer at Wright Patterson Air Base in Dayton, Ohio (and being awarded the Thurman H. Bane for an outstanding achievement in aeronautical development). During the war, he had also met and married his wife, Sue, who was studying at a university nearby. He completed a PhD in engineering at UCLA in 1949 and took a job at General Electric designing gas turbines. A few years later, Myron returned to UCLA as a faculty member, teaching thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and heat transfer. During this period, he hosted Threshold, a series of hour-long television programs dealing with science and its impact on society that aired in 1958 on CBS.

              Myron’s remarkably varied career included the following:

              • Dean of Dartmouth College’s Thayer School of Engineering by the age of 40 (where he was responsible for the introduction of a new curriculum based on engineering design and entrepreneurship; a named chair was founded in 1997, the Myron Tribus Professor of Engineering Innovation)
              • Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Science and Technology in the Nixon administration (during which he funded the first weather modification experiments)
              • Senior Vice President for Research and Engineering at Xerox Corporation
              • Director of the Center for Advanced Engineering Study at MIT (during which period the center published W. Edwards Deming’s path-breaking book, Out of the Crisis) and co-founder of Exergy Inc. (whose business is the construction of geothermal power plants)

              Myron knew Deming well, admired his philosophy, and—in typical engineering fashion—found practical language and actions (“knowhow,” as Myron would probably have expressed it) to communicate Deming’ s quality management theory, for example, in his widely read article, “The Germ Theory of Management.” A man of great scholarship, he traced the origins of quality management, discovering and interviewing Homer Sarasohn, the central figure in launching Japanese industry on the path of good management immediately post-war. He also found the earlier figure of Tomáš Baťa, who established the T & A Baťa Shoe Company at the end of the 19th century and ran it on early quality management principles. Myron eventually co-authored a biography of Baťa.

              Later in life, he worked extensively with schools, convinced quality management had much to offer. He collaborated with David Langford in particular. He also developed a great interest in the work of the Israeli psychiatrist Reuven Feuerstein, traveling to Israel in the early 1990s to study Feuerstein’s revolutionary methods for helping children and, indeed, adults improve how they learn. His Letters from Jerusalem, emailed to friends around the world, provide fascinating insight into Feuerstein’s work.

              Stories about Myron are legion. One of us was preparing to assist an American professional society to adopt quality management and asked Myron to collaborate. He agreed to do so, but then declined to be the leader, saying, “No, no, you’re ideal! Firstly, you’ve done it yourself. Secondly, you come from overseas. And thirdly, you speak with a slight foreign accent.”

              Each year he was dean of engineering at Dartmouth College, Myron arranged a project for the incoming class of students to work on collectively during their four years of graduate study. On one such occasion, he addressed the class along the following lines:

              Welcome to engineering, ladies and gentlemen. I have to congratulate you for selecting this noblest of professions. Every aspect of your daily existence is touched by engineering genius—the auditorium you’re seated in, how you traveled here today, what you ate for breakfast … . I think this deserves a toast. In front of each of you, there’s a glass containing water. Ideally, it would be champagne, but some of you are below the legal age and also consumption of alcohol is illegal on campus. So, please raise your glasses and join me in a toast to your mutual success.

              Everyone started drinking, and many spat out the water immediately. “Exactly,” said Myron. “That’s the current drinking water for [a nearby town]. Your class project, over the next four years, is to provide the town with potable drinking water.” Subsequently, Myron told us four start-up companies were spawned by this project alone. And he posed such a challenge each year.

              Myron’s numerous awards include honorary doctorates from Rockford College and Oakland University, election to the US National Academy of Engineering, the Thurman Bane award, the Wright Brothers Medal, the Alfred Noble Prize for his work developing a thermal ice protection system for aircraft, and the Deming Lecturer Award.

              Myron passed away at the age of 94. He is survived by his two daughters, Kamala Tribus and Lou Andreas Tribus, and five grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife of 66 years and one grandson.

              Interview with Dianne Cook, JCGS Editor

              Sun, 10/01/2017 - 1:02pm

              Dianne Cook is the editor of the Journal of Computational and Graphical Statistics. We asked her to tell us a little about herself, the journal, and what we can expect to read in future issues.

                Where did you grow up and go to school, and what or who inspired you to be a statistician?

                I grew up in a small town called Wauchope on the north coast of NSW [New South Wales], Australia. We also had a weekender farm at Dongdinglaong, where we raised beef cattle, corn, and pumpkins. I had my own calves to tend to on a regular basis, as well as a few rescued kangaroo joeys. I played a lot of sport. Our little town high-school girls’ hockey team beat all the bigger schools in the state to be champions; I played the center half position. In my late teens, I was also featured in the town newspaper as “The Lady and the Willow,” the first woman to play on the local A-grade men’s cricket team.

                People who inspired me to become a statistician are many. We had one female math teacher in high school, who was absolutely gorgeous, with really hairy legs! She was part of the flee the big cities, live in a commune generation that popped up all over the area. I was rather in awe of her. At the University of New England, I was drawn to statistics as a major by a brilliant professor, Eve Bofinger. I had been accepted into Sydney University, but the city was very scary to me, so I chose the closest university near home to do undergraduate studies.

                Meeting Deborah Swayne and Andreas Buja at Bellcore in New Jersey helped with the decision to do graduate studies focusing on data visualization. Also, a colleague at the time, Andrew McDougall, and his artist mother, Gretchen Albrecht, were very supportive.

                Why did you become interested in being editor for JCGS?

                I graduated just as JCGS was born, and my close colleagues were so excited to have a good outlet for graphics research. We resolved to flood the journal with graphics papers. It hasn’t really happened, and we still desperately need more graphics research in the field of statistics and an increase of graphics submissions to JCGS. The journal is very precious to me.

                I have been asked several times to be editor over the years, and it wasn’t until my son went to college that I agreed to the job. It was a good decision. It is a very time-intensive responsibility. It would have been, for me, very difficult and stressful to have this responsibility while raising a family. I hope that, in the future, it is less difficult for women to juggle demands like this, because statistics journals need female researchers in decision-making roles.

                Have you made any changes to the journal, or do you plan to make any in the next year?

                There are numerous changes I have made to the journal operations:

                1. Reproducibility is a very important aspect of scientific research today. Articles need to submit code to reproduce results with the initial submission. Associate editors, or their assigned reviewers, are responsible for checking code runs and producing the results reported in the paper as a part of the review. This has been introduced gradually. JCGS’s original mission statement included a commitment to provide code and data associated with articles, so this is a natural progression. I would like to see more submissions that utilize reproducible document formats like Rmarkdown, where code, technical details, and writeup are all in one place. In the future, the journal should perhaps adopt a docker approach, which makes a virtual setup that enables code to be run in perpetuity.
                2. Data examples are a very important component of research in statistics to cement statistics firmly as a data science discipline. I have been strongly encouraging the use of contemporary data problems to illustrate new research. Papers relying on decades-old data sets are discouraged.
                3. I have actively pushed a number of submissions into a short technical note format. Papers around 10 pages can be reviewed quickly and published faster. The purpose of having short technical notes is also so small advances to prior work can be released to the community quickly. It hasn’t really taken off—there are not very many submissions, or converted submissions, in this format. I’d like to see more.
                4. The backlog of articles when I took the position was over a year, maybe closer to two years from acceptance to print. Clearing this backlog has been a priority.
                5. Because data visualization is my field of research, I have been working on improving the quality of the plots published in the papers.
                6. The R project has made a huge contribution to the practice of statistics globally. Many academic researchers have committed their lives to the service of making these computational tools readily available to the masses. I have been strongly encouraging additional citations of the software tools used to conduct the research reported in the papers. This acknowledgement, and the academic credit that citations provide, is important to build a strong foundation of new statistical computing researchers.
                7. For the annual meetings, I have pulled the full database of information about the articles published and created reports using the knitr package in R. Doing the analysis myself is very satisfying, with one reason being that I can decide on the appropriate plots and summaries to make. I have also been doing secondary analyses like gender matching the author’s names. This has enabled checking for bias in the review process. In the last year, we saw an increase in the number of submissions with a female author, which is very encouraging. We also have been able to determine that our reviewers are not sufficiently diverse, that there are very few female academics asked to review JCGS It is an area that we hope to improve in the next year. I have also mapped the geographic distributions of authors and reviewers, and there is room for improvement in building a global community. This past annual meeting, we experimented to include participation of some AEs virtually. Our AEs are spread across the globe, and having the option of participating remotely—although not as good as face-to-face—is important for getting input and improving communication as a whole.
                What do you find is the most enjoyable part of being a journal editor?

                It is really exciting to see new research happening!

                What do you find is the most challenging part of your job as editor?

                Rejecting papers is the toughest thing. After a day of deciding which papers to send forward for review and which to reject immediately, I am quite emotionally drained. I also feel a little like Lucille Ball on the chocolate line. The papers keep on coming, and coming, and coming! Like the chocolates, I can’t just eat a few!

                What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

                Playing and watching tennis. Reading.

                NISS Welcomes James Rosenberger as New Director

                Sun, 10/01/2017 - 7:00am

                James Rosenberger speaks to attendees after being named the new NISS director during the NISS JSM reception July 31.
                Photo Credit: Greg Dohler

                  National Institute of Statistical Sciences (NISS) chair, Mary Batcher, announced James Rosenberger as the new NISS director, which became effective August 1, during the NISS JSM reception July 31. Rosenberger succeeds Nell Sedransk.

                  Speaking about Rosenberger at the NISS reception, Batcher said, “Rosenberger is highly regarded and well liked in the statistical community. He has held several leadership roles in the American Statistical Association and is well qualified to lead NISS through a period of expansion. His continuing association with Penn State is also valuable.”

                  Rosenberger is the former head of the department of statistics at The Pennsylvania State University. Under his leadership, the department recruited top-notch faculty who excelled during their time at the university. The department grew in terms of publications, citations, and federal grant support. “Overall, the national prestige of the department increased,” said Andrew Stephenson, Penn State associate dean for research and innovation.

                  Stephenson continued, “Statistics maintained its reputation around campus for outstanding pedagogy, and statistics gained the reputation [of] being a well-run and highly functional department. Most attribute these successes to Jim’s attitude. He saw the role of being a department head as a ‘service role.’ Jim’s a rock-solid guy who always had the best interests of the department in mind.”

                  Rosenberger’s research interests include linear models, design and analysis of experiments, and bioinformatics and genomics. He is a Fellow of the ASA and American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the Biometrics Society and Institute of Mathematical Statistics.

                  At JSM 2016 in Chicago, Rosenberger was honored with the ASA’s Founders Award, recognizing his career-long support of and involvement in the ASA. Speaking about Rosenberger’s commitment of 45 years to the ASA, Ronald Wasserstein, executive director, said, “I love working with Jim. He is a thoughtful leader who is committed to the success of ASA and NISS. Because he knows both organizations well, he is uniquely positioned to further strengthen the partnership between these two organizations.”

                  “I am very pleased to join NISS and look forward to working with our affiliates to build stronger connections between industry, government, and academia about data science and statistics,” said Rosenberger.

                  NISS is at a critical juncture, having separated this year from SAMSI—the NSF-funded Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute. For the past decade, SAMSI was housed in the NISS building in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, and worked cooperatively on workshops and programs. “This synergistic relationship with shared space and postdocs working together was beneficial, but also caused some confusion in the community about distinguishing their separate missions. Therefore, creating a separate and distinct mission for NISS is a short-term challenge that we will focus on immediately by hosting events in various locations and building a national network,” said Rosenberger.

                  Rosenberger succeeds Sedransk, who served as the director of NISS since 2015. Speaking about Sedransk’s contribution to NISS at the NISS reception, Batcher said, “During her tenure, Nell led NISS to a solid financial footing, increased the engagement of the Board of Trustees, and provided outstanding leadership to the organization.”

                  Nell will continue as director of the Washington, DC, office, where she will focus on her projects and working with the postdocs.”

                  “Data science challenges the field of statistics to provide new routes to answers in a big data world. For NISS, the response is the expansion of the leadership team, diversification of the senior expertise, and widening the sphere of applications and impact, said Sedransk. “Rosenberger is well suited to leading this vision as NISS director from his association with NISS for over a decade, taking on various roles with the board of trustees and several NISS committees, as well as from his leadership roles in the statistics department at The Pennsylvania State University and from the professional statistics community nationally and internationally,” continued Sedransk.

                  NISS was founded in North Carolina more than 25 years ago with support from the state and three universities in the Research Triangle. The organization’s vision was national and, in recent years, it has expanded primarily in the Washington, DC, area, with research- and policy-related activities with government agencies. “My current goal is to expand the outreach of NISS to additional agencies in DC and also broaden the base to additional industry affiliates to provide linkages with the academic community through our affiliates,” said Rosenberger.

                  Penn State has extensive linkages to the industry through its alumni and existing programs, so Rosenberger has proposed creating an additional hub at Penn State while maintaining the hubs in North Carolina and DC. Thus, part of the expansion plan is to have a NISS hub at The Pennsylvania State University. “We are excited that Pennsylvania State and statistics is playing a larger role in NISS,” said Stephenson.

                  Rosenberger is the public face of NISS when establishing new relationships and continuing existing relationships with academic institutions, industry, and government agencies. Batcher said, “We look forward to working with Rosenberger as the NISS director and, together, aim to expand NISS geographically and strengthen the affiliate program. Rosenberger brings the leadership ability, knowledge, and a network of statistical colleagues to meet these opportunities.”

                  Statistics: It’s Essential … and So Was Your Participation at JSM 2017

                  Sun, 10/01/2017 - 7:00am
                  Kathleen Wert, ASA Director of Meetings
                    JSM by the Numbers
                    6,579 Attendees
                    823 Professional Development Registrants
                    324 Exhibitors
                    3,226 ASA Members
                    671 Sessions
                    633 Individual Posters
                    315 Speed Presentations

                    More from JSM 2017
                    Many Honored at Presidential Address and Awards Ceremony

                    Student Chapter Officers Gather for First Time at JSM 2017

                    Data Challenge 2017 Winners

                    Statisticians Honored by COPSS

                    2017 Educational Ambassador Hails from Namibia

                    Tenth Statistics Workshops for Math and Science Teachers Held in Baltimore

                    Beyond AP Statistics Workshop Held in Conjunction with JSM

                    Didn’t make it to Baltimore? See pictures!

                     
                    WATCH: Plenary session webcasts are available.

                    A program packed with intriguing talks and fun social events in a convention center set up for networking … how could JSM 2017 be anything less than exceptional?

                    Held at the Baltimore Convention Center and the Hilton Baltimore, JSM brought more than 6,500 people to the city. Many sessions focused on the JSM 2017 theme, “Statistics: It’s Essential,” on which ASA President Barry Nussbaum also presented his address.

                    This year’s program included 671 sessions, including the President’s Invited speaker, Jo Craven McGinty of The Wall Street Journal; Deming Lecturer, Fritz Scheuren of NORC-University of Chicago; and Fisher Lecturer, Robert E. Kass of Carnegie Mellon University. In addition, the Late-Breaking sessions—“National Governments, Coerced Narratives, Creative Language, and Alternative Facts” and “Hindsight Is 20/20 and for 2020: Lessons from 2016 Elections”—highlighted current issues in our profession.

                    For those interested in sessions with a broad scope, the introductory overview lectures did not disappoint. Sessions about computer-age statistical inference, data science, network data, and quantile regression proved an excellent place for JSM newcomers to begin.

                    There were a number of named lectures and memorial sessions, including the following:

                    • IMS Medallion Lecture I – Edoardo M. Airoldi, Harvard University
                    • IMS Blackwell Lecture – Martin J. Wainwright, University of California, Berkeley
                    • IMS Medallion Lecture II – Emery N. Brown, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
                    • IMS Medallion Lecture III – Subhashis Ghoshal, North Carolina State University
                    • IMS Medallion Lecture IV – Mark Girolami, Imperial College London
                    • Wald Lecture – Emmanuel J. Candes, Stanford University
                    • IMS Medallion Lecture V – Judith N. Rousseau, Université Paris Dauphine
                    • Memorial Session for Ted Anderson
                    • Memorial Session for Norman E. Breslow
                    • Memorial Session for Emanuel Parzen
                    • Memorial Session for John A. Cornell

                    Members of the program committee worked hard to develop these special sessions, along with preparing a diverse program with topics of interest for everyone. They continued the expansion of the speed sessions with a record of 315 speed presentations in 18 sessions. This new format continues to be popular with speakers and attendees, and we look forward to its continued growth.

                    Stats from the Road

                    Sun, 10/01/2017 - 7:00am

                    Amanda Malloy

                    Amanda Malloy, ASA Director of Development

                      As my neighbor Willie Nelson said, “Can’t wait to get on the road again.” I’m looking forward to visiting with you to explore the question, “What does the future hold for the statistics profession?”

                      This was a theme at JSM this year. In fact, ASA President Barry Nussbaum talked about it during his address. In a world where the terms “big data,” “data analytics,” and “data scientist” are ubiquitous, it is important to consider how statisticians are included.

                      The good news, as Barry said in his talk, is “This is the best of times for statisticians.” There are more opportunities than ever, and it’s up to us to firmly establish the importance of statistics for society and support students at all levels so the demand for statisticians is met.

                      The House of Statistics is an initiative Barry championed to both highlight the contributions of statisticians to society and support statistics education. House of Statistics will be a virtual home for videos, career explorations, games, and competitions that challenge and involve students at all levels, showing that statistics is cool. It will be a great resource for both formal and informal learning, and you’ll hear much more about it in the coming months, so stay tuned.

                      As a member of the ASA, you are an ambassador for the profession. The ASA is here to support you and others like you. We need your help, though, to make sure statistics stays at the forefront of the data movement.

                      Here are some things you can do to help:

                      Get Involved
                      • With your local chapter
                      • With sections
                      • With interest groups
                      • With your local schools
                      Stay Informed
                      • Subscribe to the ASA Science Policy blog to keep up to date on the current issues facing our country and profession
                      • Stay connected to peers and weigh in on topics in the ASA Community
                      Donate

                      Help us do more!

                      • Your contributions help improve statistics education for K–12 students, expose students to statistics and get them excited about statistics as a career, ensure statisticians are included in policy decisions and proper analysis is done on critical studies, and help the public understand and ask the right questions about information being given to them on a daily basis
                      • Visit GiveASA to find out more.

                      Barry’s take-home message was to be active, collaborate, get to the table early, and learn new skills. Working together, we will ensure it is “the best of times.”

                      Data Challenge 2017 Winners

                      Sun, 10/01/2017 - 7:00am

                      Three ASA sections (Computing, Government, and Graphics) sponsored Data Challenge 2017. The contest was open to anyone, including college students and professionals from the private or public sector. The data set for the challenge was the Consumer Expenditure Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There were two award categories: Professional (one level) and Student (three levels). The winners are the following:

                      Student-Level Award

                        1st winner: Nathan James, “Interactive Visualization of Consumer Expenditure Public-Use Microdata”

                        2nd winner: Joyance Meechai, “Energy Expenditure Patterns in the United States”

                        3rd winner (tied):  Mingzhao Hu, “Income and Expenditure in US Households: A Multivariate Analysis of Consumer Expenditure Data”

                        3rd winner (tied): Robert Garrett, “An Analysis of Consumer Budgeting and the Great Recession”

                      Professional-Level Award

                        Gaurav Sharma, “Consumer Spending and Federal Reserve”

                      Reflections on Diversity Mentoring Program, Contagious Excellence

                      Sun, 10/01/2017 - 7:00am
                      Adrian Coles, Jesse Chittams, and Dionne Swift

                        Nagambal Shah, Reneé Moore, Portia Parker, and Michael Sampson

                          Why is mentorship so important? As a tool, it greatly assists junior individuals in making quality decisions that will lend themselves to future success. But that is a limited perspective. Effective mentorship is also a conduit through which excellence is conveyed, and that benefits not only the mentee, but also the system in which that individual operates.

                          The ASA’s Diversity Mentoring Program (DMP) advances our profession!

                          Four Generations of Mentoring

                          In the midst of the excitement from connections being made, enlightening panel discussions, and networking by program participants at this year’s DMP, which took place at JSM 2017 in Baltimore, one moment stood out.

                          Nagambal Shah, professor emerita at Spelman College, is the founder of the annual ASA StatFest and has been one of the consistent leaders of the DMP since its inception in 2009. In 2010, she was elected an ASA Fellow in honor of her outstanding career as an educator and service to our profession.

                          Shah mentored Reneé Moore, director of biostatistics collaboration core at Emory University and current chair of the ASA’s Committee on Minorities in Statistics. This year, Moore was elected an ASA Fellow in honor of her career as a collaborative researcher and educator and service to our profession.

                          Both these leaders have enjoyed great careers from a personal perspective, but more than that, they have tirelessly served to advance our profession, which benefits each of us. They are an example of contagious excellence. They embody the key strengths of the DMP: community, collaboration, and commitment.

                          And it appears they are passing those down to future generations.

                          Moore mentors Portia Parker, a graduate of North Carolina State University, who is starting a career at SAS Institute, Inc. Like her mentor, she is active in professional service. This year, Parker began a mentoring relationship with Michael Sampson, who is a first-year graduate student at NYU.

                          No other moment better demonstrates the value of effective mentoring and fostering greater participation in our profession by members of diverse groups. Given the harmony of sexes, racial groups, and age groups in this photo (and heights), it’s fair to suggest we truly are better together. This is community. This is legacy.

                          Program Summary

                          This year’s Diversity Mentoring Program partnered 18 students and early-career professionals with leaders and professionals from government, industry, consulting, and academia in 1-to-1 mentoring relationships.

                          In addition, participants benefited from panel discussions that addressed topics such as effective mentoring, career paths, and emotional intelligence. Participants also took advantage of the intimate networking environment that included talent acquisition specialists from sponsoring organizations.

                          The chair of this year’s DMP committee was Dionne Swift, vice chair of the ASA’s Committee on Minorities in Statistics.

                          If you are interested in participating in the next Diversity Mentoring Program or the ASA’s Committee on Minorities in Statistics’ other key initiative, StatFest, please check the Committee on Minorities in Statistics webpage.

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