Prodyot Kumar Bhattacharya passed away March 9, 2018, at his home in Davis, California. He was professor emeritus at the University of California at Davis and contributed to the field of statistics during a career that spanned more than 50 years.
PK, as he was called by many colleagues and friends, entered Presidency College to earn his bachelor’s degree in statistics and ultimately received his master’s degree and PhD under the supervision of H.K. Nandi from Calcutta University. In 1960, he traveled to the United States and held postdoctoral positions at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Stanford University. After a brief period at the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) in Calcutta, he returned permanently to the US in 1965 upon accepting a position at the University of Arizona. He spent sabbatical terms at the University of Minnesota, ISI, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1980, he left Arizona to help establish the UC Davis Division of Statistics, where he remained until his retirement in 1994. He supervised PhD students, served on the editorial boards of Sankhya and the Annals of Statistics, and, in 2016, published Theory and Methods of Statistics, a book for advanced graduate students and research statisticians, with his co-author, Prabir Burman.
PK’s early seminal work, published in the Annals of Mathematical Statistics in 1966, proposed a uniformly superior estimator for the mean of a multivariate normal vector under unknown variance and generalized loss function, an important expansion on Charles Stein’s surprising result showing inadmissibility of the ordinary least squares estimator in dimensions exceeding two. Throughout his career, PK maintained special interest in nonparametric estimation functions and change-point analysis, an area that led to demonstrating the large sample behavior of the maximum likelihood estimator of an unknown change-point through a Brownian motion process with drift. His research was motivated by unusual problems across a spectrum of disciplines. Of particular note, his collaboration in a cosmological application led to a nonparametric inference method for a regression model having errors with infinite variance and a truncated response, an approach that reconciles the red shift effect of a light source in an ever-expanding universe and the truncation arising from the low luminosity of distant objects. The method allows analysis and interpretation of complex astronomical data, such as those collected by the Hubble Space Telescope.
PK was born on September 30, 1930, in Calcutta, India. The fourth of six children, he lost his mother and younger sister when he was a young boy. Despite hardship at an early age, he found joy in the books he discovered at the local Boys’ Own Library. He developed a special fondness for Bengali and English poetry and, for the rest of his life, could recite from memory the verses that moved him during his school days. He loved popular and classical Indian and western music, all kinds of food and spirits, and traveling to all corners of the world. He was happiest when sharing these lifelong passions with others, whether it was setting out his favorite selection of cheeses, introducing his grandchildren to classic movies, or attending an opera performance in San Francisco or New York.
PK left an indelible mark on science and the lives he touched through his intellect, humor, generosity, and spirit of adventure. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Srilekha; his daughters, Suparna Jain and Aparna Anderson; and his grandchildren, Arjun and Anjali Jain and Anil and Mira Anderson.Eun Sul Lee
“The man departs—there remains his shadow.”
Eun Sul Lee, age 83, died peacefully with his family surrounding him on April 2, 2018, at the Mirabella retirement community in Portland, Oregon. The retired professor was a scholar; teacher and mentor; author; origami master; true gentleman; and devoted husband, father, and grandfather of three.
Born in Gongju, Korea, in 1934, Eun Sul lived through the end of the Japanese occupation (1945) and the Korean War (1950–1953) before he went to college at Seoul National University, where he studied sociology. After college, he worked as a translator at the Christian Children’s Fund in Seoul, where he met his future wife, Chong Mahn. They were engaged in Seoul before they both moved to the United States to attend graduate school—he at the University of Kentucky (for an MA in statistics) and she at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Later, he earned his PhD in experimental statistics and sociology from North Carolina State University.
Eun Sul began his academic career at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston in 1969 and remained there for 36 years, until his retirement. While at UT, he advised master’s and doctoral students and taught classes in demography, biostatistics, survey sampling and community health assessment, planning, and evaluation. He also participated in numerous funded research projects and served on review committees for the National Cancer Institute; National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute; and National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). He also consulted extensively with the NIMH and the World Health Organization.
While on leave from UT from 1994 to 1996, he developed and chaired the department of preventive medicine and public health at Ajou University Medical School in Suwon, Korea. He also taught and consulted at several universities in Asia, including Seoul National University, Yonsei University, Gunma University, and the Hokkaido University.
Upon his retirement in 2005, Eun Sul and Chong Mahn moved to Portland, Oregon, where he became an adjunct professor in the department of public health and preventive medicine at the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). He also provided statistical consulting services for the Mental Health Services Research Program at the Portland Veteran Affairs Medical Center.
Eun Sul participated in the writing of more than 100 journal articles and scholarly reports, authored three textbooks (one in Korean and two in English), and wrote a memoir titled Dreaming with One Eye Open for his children and grandchildren. In his memoir, he chronicled his family history, childhood in Korea, life during wartime, move to the United States, and, later in life, coming to terms with his father’s legacy.
His father, Lee Chul Ha, died in 1936 after being imprisoned by the Japanese for protesting colonial rule in Korea. Eun Sul grew up knowing little about his father. While on sabbatical in Korea in 1992, he discovered his father was one of the leaders of the nationalist resistance movement in his hometown and was active in a student revolutionary group in Seoul. When these findings were made known to the South Korean government, his father was honored with a Patriot’s Medal in 1993 and his grave was moved to the National Cemetery shortly thereafter.
Eun Sul is survived by his wife, Chong Mahn Lee; daughter, Margaret Juhae Lee; son-in-law, Steven Paul Francis Olson; son, Edward Tongju Lee; daughter-in-law, Amy Lee Lacks; and three grandchildren, Owen Sung Ya Lee Olson, Dahlia Mina Lee, and Kiana Yong Mi Lee Olson.
A private ceremony will be held. Memorial donations may be made to the Oregon Health & Science University Foundation.Herman Rubin Written by Anirban DasGupta
Herman Rubin, professor of statistics and mathematics at Purdue University, passed away in West Lafayette, Indiana, on April 23, 2018; he was 91.
Herman was among the last remaining great polymaths of the 20th century. To all who knew him or had heard about him, he was an inexplicable outlier in numerous ways. His unique ability to understand a new problem and arrive at the answer almost instantly baffled even the wittiest mathematicians. He never forgot a fact or a theorem or a proof. He would solve a complete stranger’s problem without expecting co-authorship or anything in return. He would ﬁght for someone who opposed him at every step. He would stand on his principles with the last drop of blood in his body. Herman’s death marks the end of a unique era following World War II that saw the emergence of a group of supremely talented statisticians who would mold the foundations of the subject for decades to come.
Herman earned his PhD from The University of Chicago at a young age; he was a student of Paul Halmos. After a stint at the Cowles Commission, he formed a productive intellectual aﬃnity with Ted Anderson, Charles Stein, and Ingram Olkin; at that same time, he also became professionally close to David Blackwell and Meyer Girshick. With Ted Anderson, he wrote two phenomenal papers on fundamental multivariate analysis that worked out the ﬁxed sample and asymptotic distribution theory of MLEs in factor analysis models and structural equation models. These results have entered into all standard multivariate analysis and econometrics texts and have remained there for more than a half century. Herman’s most famous and classic contribution to inference is the widely used and fundamental idea of monotone likelihood ratio families. Anyone who has ever taken a course on testing of hypotheses knows how fundamental the idea and results in the 1956 paper with Samuel Karlin were. It was this work that led to Karlin’s hugely inﬂuential TP2 and variation diminishing families with shadows of Isaac Schoenberg and Bill Studden lurking in the background.
Following this period, Herman made novel entries into various aspects of probability and asymptotics. With J. Sethuraman, he did theory of moderate deviations. With Herman Chernoﬀ, he attacked the then novel problem of estimating locations of singularities, and how, precisely, the asymptotics were new. With Prakasa Rao as his student, he got into the problem of cube root asymptotics for monotone densities. With C. R. Rao, he gave the classic Rao-Rubin characterization theorem. And, to many, the crown of the jewel was the invention of the Stratonovich integral.
Herman really did enjoy particular problems, as long as they were not mundane particular problems. Classic examples are his papers with Rick Vitale that show sets of independent events characterize an underlying probability measure, degeneracies aside; his work with Jeesen Chen and Burgess Davis on how nonuniform a uniform sample can look to the eye; his work with Tom Sellke on roots of smooth characteristic functions; his work on the Bayesian formulation of quality control with Meyer Girshick; the hilariously bizarre but hard problem of estimating a rational mean; his papers with Andrew Rukhin on the positive normal mean; his work on the notorious Binomial N problem; and his work on Bayesian robustness of frequentist nonparametric tests. There are others. Herman never thought of who would cite or read a result; if he wanted to solve a problem, he did.
Herman was probably one of the lifelong Bayesians, but a purely axiomatic one. He really did take most of the Savagian theory and axioms literally; he expanded on them, though later. An expansion was published in Statistics and Decisions (to my knowledge, with extremely active help from Jim Berger). He would not budge an inch from his conviction that the likelihood and prior are inseparable. He would refuse to discuss what an appropriate loss function was; he would insist you ask the client. He would nevertheless want to see the full risk function of a procedure and would study Bayes through the lens of Bayes risk, and even exclusively Bayes risk, namely the double integral. On asymptotic behaviors of procedures, he did not appear to care for second-order terms. He has shown his concern for only calculating a limit time and again. A glorious example of this is his work with J. Sethuraman on eﬃciency defined through Bayes risks; this was so novel it entered into the classic asymptotic text of Robert Serfling. He came back to it many years later in joint work with Kai-Sheng Song in an Annals of Statistics article.
In certain ways, Herman came across as self-contradictory. He would publicly say only Bayes procedures should be used. But he would oppose the use of a single prior with all his teeth. He would be technically interested in robustness of traditional frequentist procedures, although he would portray them as coming out of wrong formulations. Well-known examples are his well-cited papers with Joe Gastwirth on the performance of the t-test under dependence. He did not have the personal desire to burn the midnight oil on writing a comprehensive review of some area, but he would be an invaluable asset if someone was writing one such. An example is his review of infinitely divisible distributions with Arup Bose (and this writer). An all-time classic is his text Equivalents of the Axiom of Choice, jointly written with his wife, Jean Rubin. Jim Berger thanks Herman profusely in the preface of his classic Springer book on decision theory and Bayesian analysis; Charles Stein acknowledges Herman and Herbert Robbins in his ﬁrst shrinkage paper.
There was a fairly long period when nearly every paper written in Herman’s home department had his contributions in it. He never asked for or got credit for them. He defined the term scholar in its literal dictionary sense. With the passing of Herman Rubin, a shining beacon of knowledge and wisdom is gone. Herman was an absolute and consummate master of simulation, characteristic functions, and inﬁnitely divisible distributions. He kept to himself a mountain of facts and results on these and other topics. There was never a person who did not respect Herman Rubin’s brain; even Paul Erdös did. He was an inaugural fellow of the American Mathematical Society and a fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics.
Herman had sophisticated taste in music and literature. He was often seen at classical concerts and operas. He helped mathematical causes ﬁnancially. Herman was probably one of the few people who could work out the NY Times crossword puzzle on any day in about an hour. Herman is survived by his son, Arthur, and daughter, Leonore.
The Quality and Productivity Section will award Mary G. and Joseph Natrella scholarships to Anh Bui, a PhD candidate in industrial engineering and management sciences at Northwestern University, and Xiaowei Yue, a PhD candidate in the department of industrial and systems engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, during the 2018 Joint Research Conference on Statistics in Quality, Industry, and Technology, which will be held June 11–14 in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Both Bui and Yue will give a research presentation at the conference and receive a $3,500 scholarship, plus $500 for travel expenses and complimentary registration for the conference and pre-conference short course.
Bui was recommended for the award by Daniel W. Apley of Northwestern University and Chi-Hyuck Jun of Pohang University of Science and Technology in Pohang, South Korea. His presentation at the conference is titled, “Monitoring Stochastic Textured Surfaces.”
Yue was recommended for the award by Jianjun Shi and Chuck Zhang of Georgia Institute of Technology. The title of his presentation is “Engineering-Driven Data Analytics for Quality Improvement.”
The winners were chosen for their outstanding teaching, community service, mentoring, leadership, scholarship, and commitment to the pursuit of quality improvement through the use of statistical methods.
Over the past few years, public acknowledgement of sexual harassment/assault has emerged as a critical workplace and professional issue in need of greater attention. No social environment is immune to it. Members of associations like the American Statistical Association deserve policies that preserve the dignity of members individually and professionally. In November of 2017, the ASA Board of Directors approved the formation of the Task Force on Sexual Harassment and Assault.
The charge of the task force is as follows:
- Assess the extent of sexual harassment/assault in the ASA community.
- Review surveys used by other professional organizations to assess the prevalence of sexual harassment/assault.
- Develop an ASA membership survey to assess the frequency, location, and kinds of harassment/assault occurring.
- Distribute the survey to ASA membership.
- Summarize the findings from the survey.
- Review the current best practices of professional organizations and academic institutions with respect to sexual harassment/assault.
- Consider creation of a resource that allows victims of sexual harassment and assault to anonymously receive support.
- Make recommendations to the ASA Board of Directors regarding sexual harassment/assault policy changes for the organization.
What follows is an update on our activities since the task force was approved by the board.
During the two months following the formulation of these charges, the ASA president, in consultation with the executive director, appointed task force members with the goal of including a diverse, representative cross-section of the ASA membership. The membership of the task force can be found on the ASA website.
The task force members convened for the first time at the end of January and have met a few more times since. There are regular meetings scheduled going forward and members have begun addressing the charges above. Task force members are diverse and each brings different experiences to the table, thus enabling lively discussion with a variety of perspectives.
Following is the progress made on each of the four main charges:
Survey of Sexual Harassment/Assault in the ASA Community
We are fortunate to have experienced survey statisticians among our task force membership who drafted a plan describing options for developing and implementing a way to gather information about our membership’s experiences and perceptions of sexual harassment. As we reviewed the potential paths available for this effort (e.g., formal or informal survey, census), it became clear this was an undertaking larger than could be handled by the task force. The ASA has thus graciously agreed to fund a membership survey and has put out a request for proposals (RFP) to external organizations.
The chosen organization will contact all ASA members and give them an opportunity to answer a set of questions related to their experiences and perceptions of sexual harassment. The responses will not constitute a probability sample, but will provide valuable information about the severity of these issues among our membership.
In addition to the obvious benefits of allowing professionals to manage this effort, it also allows the data to “live” outside of the ASA, which is important given the sensitive nature of the data collection.
The RFP was developed by the ASA staff and has been reviewed and revised by the task force. It was made publicly available on April 25, 2018.
Early in our discussions, we reached out to colleagues at the American Political Science Association (APSA), which recently published the results of its survey on sexual misconduct in their discipline. We received important and useful feedback from their executive director that helped guide some of our discussions about our approach.
Review of Best Practices
We have been assembling information from other professional organizations regarding their policies on sexual assault and harassment, both for meetings and professional conduct. In this vein, we included a request for input from ASA members in the April 18 member e-newsletter.
Resource for Anonymous Reporting
We have not yet directly addressed the development of a mechanism for anonymous reporting of incidents of sexual assault and harassment; however, for most of our discussions, reporting is an issue we have touched on. As we move forward with developing policy recommendations, discussions of a reporting mechanism will be the next step.
Policy Recommendations to the ASA Board
With respect to policy recommendations to the ASA Board, we have started the process of examining the current meeting conduct policy and are brainstorming ways to improve the policy and the means by which it is communicated to the ASA membership. This has led to discussions about policy for meeting conduct vs. policy for professional conduct. In addition, we have had much discussion about psychological, confidentiality, legal, and reporting issues that may arise through implementation of such policies, thus resulting in recommendations that the ASA employ an ombudsperson for the Joint Statistical Meetings. This would allow reporting to occur in a confidential manner and to someone who has training in the psychological and legal actions necessary in these situations.
In addition to the topics described above, we have talked about how to engage the ASA community more broadly in our efforts. We have therefore reached out to the Committee on Women in Statistics, Committee on Professional Ethics, and Committee on Membership Retention and Recruitment to ensure we align our efforts. We are particularly interested in working with the Committee on Professional Ethics to ensure we address the professional conduct aspects of sexual misconduct. In addition, as described above, we have solicited input from the ASA membership regarding best practices for an inclusive meeting/organization and plan to solicit input on our draft policy recommendations.
We have made a decision to be proactive, rather than reactive, and to think about the long-term goals of our recommendations. It is our hope that the recommendations we make are approved by the ASA and make an impact on the health and happiness of our organization.
The ASA Task Force on Sexual Harassment and Assault welcomes your input and invites you to provide feedback.
The Section on Statistics in Epidemiology (SIE) grants annual Young Investigator awards to new researchers for the best papers in statistics in epidemiology presented at JSM. Among the Young Investigator Award winners, the Breslow Award further recognizes the top paper.
The section presents the 2018 Young Investigator awards to the following individuals:
- Maria Cuellar, Statistics, Carnegie Mellon University (Breslow Award Winner)
- Parichoy Pal Choudhury, Biostatistics, The Johns Hopkins University
- Kwonsang Lee, Biostatistics, Harvard University
- Maya Mathur, Biostatistics, Harvard University
- Ran Tao, Biostatistics, Vanderbilt University
- Kai Yang, Biostatistics, University of Florida
An awards ceremony will be held at this year’s JSM in Vancouver on Tuesday, July 31, at 6:30 p.m. in recognition of the awardees. The ceremony will be followed by a joint mixer with the Mental Health Statistics Section. Visit the JSM online program for an up-to-date location.
A new term entered our national vernacular last year: “alternative facts.” Although its use has provided new material for the comic stage and late-night talk shows, it has caused consternation among scientists.
JSM 2017 featured no fewer than five sessions about government statistics, including one titled “Doomed Data … When National Governments, Coerced Narratives, and Alternative Facts Override the Quality, Importance of Statistics.” And earlier this year, the AAAS annual meeting featured a brainstorming session about ways to deal with or push back against alternative facts shown to be false.
Even before alternative facts became a reality (pun intended), ASA Board members had an interest in determining our membership’s views on official statistics and whether public confidence in them had been affected by public dialogue. We engaged Stanton Communications to conduct focus group interviews to this effect, and out of this initial data gathering grew an exciting ASA initiative: Count on Statistics.
In early May, I had the opportunity to interview Megan Berry from Stanton Communications about the initiative. Here is what she had to say:
Why did the ASA decide such a project was needed?Berry: Amid rising concerns about public confidence in US government statistics, the American Statistical Association commissioned Stanton Communications to conduct a study to determine the feasibility of a public outreach initiative to enhance awareness of the importance, reliability, and trustworthiness of government statistics.
We conducted more than a dozen interviews with key ASA leaders, members, and subject-matter experts with a perspective on this topic. One such interviewee stated, “We do not need to determine if there is a problem. There is a problem. The public doesn’t trust government statistics or understand where the data are coming from.”
Through these candid conversations, Stanton determined the opportunities, challenges, and objectives a strategic communications program may involve. Clearly, there was a need for a program with the mission to “distinguish federal statistics as absolutely essential to the functions of our democracy.” With the support of ASA leadership and the board, we created Count on Stats to do just that.
What approach has the campaign taken and why?Berry: The campaign has focused on communicating the benefits of the federal statistical system—how we, as a society, “Count on Stats.” To promote this message, we work to influence the influencers, engage the user base, and amplify agency and partner communications through a variety of channels. We have engaged our key audiences—our allies, the press, members of Congress, the business community, and statistical agencies—through social media, op-eds, blogs, media interviews, press releases and statements, monthly e-newsletters, and even articles in Amstat News.
What has been accomplished thus far?Berry: Our early efforts have focused on developing a social following, primarily on Twitter, responding to threats to the system, and building relationships with key members of the media. We have garnered direct mentions in CQ Magazine, Associations Now, and City Lab. ASA Executive Director Ron Wasserstein was also featured on the Consortium of Social Science Association’s Why Social Science series, expressing how statistical agencies produce data essential for democracy. Last week, Count on Stats also sponsored a panel at SABEW18 on accessing accurate government statistics and concerns about disappearing data.
What is planned for the future?Berry: In the coming months, we will be doing more to reach out to members of the media and policymakers. This will help us proactively influence the conversation and gain a further reach. We also plan to continue emphasizing the importance of the federal statistical system by featuring a statistical agency on Twitter every week. In addition, the Count on Stats team is working to develop and host a panel featuring speakers from Congress, the press, and the federal statistical community. With this integrative approach, we hope to better educate our audiences and rebuild the public’s trust in federal statistics.
Whether encouraging and training statisticians to fulfill their leadership potential or making sure official statistics are understood and valued, just remember—you can count on the ASA!Meet Erica Groshen
Former BLS Commissioner and Leadership Institute Steering Committee Member
A former director of the second-largest federal statistical agency, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is the final member of the ASA Leadership Institute’s Steering Committee to be in the President’s Corner spotlight. We are privileged to have Erica Groshen, BLS commissioner from 2013–2017, advising the institute on the development of strong statistical leaders. Erica is currently a visiting senior scholar at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR). Prior to leading the BLS, she worked in the Federal Reserve System. Throughout her career, she has maintained a focus on research, development, and outreach. As a labor economist, Erica’s research taps into employer data to better understand the role of employers in the labor market and to gain insight into wage differences, rigidity, and the impact of recessions.
Regarding statistical leadership, Erica contributed one of my favorite quotes to date from the Institute’s Steering Committee. When discussing the importance of leadership training for statisticians during our first meeting, she noted that, “People rise to leadership positions from different career paths, and CEOs were something else before becoming CEOs.” Traditionally, she noted, these roles went to those trained in business or law, but with the increasing importance of data and analytics in all employment sectors, it is perhaps inevitable that statisticians should be tapped for these top posts and should not feel limited in pursuing them.
Regarding the Count on Statistics initiative, Erica commented that federal statistics are very much a public service and represent the baseline for methodological work seeking to improve the way data from surveys and other sources are used today. Thoughtful critiques of official statistics are valuable. Data sources and methods are evolving, and it is important that users understand the limitations of their use. But this is not the same as uninformed critiques, attacking without that understanding. Statisticians should be defending official statistics on a regular basis in their social and professional environments. Otherwise, we are missing an opportunity to defend our own work.
About the Leadership Institute, Erica noted that, “There is a role for professional associations like the ASA to help their members advance in their careers.”
We are fortunate to have Erica and the other steering committee members guiding the planning and operation of the institute and look forward to their continued commitment.
Chief Statistician of the United States, US Office of Management and Budget
Senior Vice President, Information Technology, and Chief Information Officer, Eli Lilly & Co.
Senior Data Scientist, Two Sigma
Distinguished Professor of Statistics, Iowa State University
Associate Professor, Department of Statistics, Duke University, and Data Scientist and Professional Educator, RStudio
Senior Director Global Statistical Sciences, Eli Lilly & Co.
The Women in Statistics and Data Science conference has become one of the ASA’s most popular and positive conferences. Last year’s WSDS welcomed more than 450 attendees, sponsors, and exhibitors. This fall’s conference should be on your list of must-attend events.
Women in Statistics and Data Science will take place this October in Cincinnati, Ohio. When we convene, we will gather professionals and students from academia, industry, and the government who are working in statistics and data science. WSDS offers unique opportunities to grow your influence, your community, and your knowledge, but—more importantly—to interact with other leading women in the field.
With a wide range of content—including engaging plenaries, poster sessions, short courses, and concurrent sessions about managing family-work balance, cutting-edge advances, and growing in your career—each attendee will find enriching material to help them at any stage.
Leaders from academia, industry, and government will come together to present a world-class experience for attendees, from student and postgraduates to seasoned professionals. Aarti Shaah of Eli Lilly, Claudia Perlich of Dstillery/NYU, and Alicia Carriquiry from Iowa State will give plenary talks. The technical content will again be top notch, but what sets this conference apart is the hands-on, warm, and engaging environment that proves particularly conducive to learning and growing in both professional and personal ways. What do attendees say about WSDS? They call the meeting welcoming, inspiring, empowering, motivating, eye opening, and awesome!
Mark October 18–20 on your calendar and learn more by visiting the WSDS website.
The ASA Board of Directors proposes the following modifications to the ASA bylaws. The purpose of the changes is to ensure the ASA’s finance-related committee charges are consistent with current best practices and to update some provisions that are either no longer applicable or not reflective of current best practices.
Finance-related committee charges:
Article IX. COMMITTEES
4.a. Audit Committee. The Audit Committee shall consist of the Treasurer, who acts as chair, the chair of the Budget Committee, and the Past President. It shall periodically recommend an audit firm to the Board of Directors; serve as the Board of Directors’ liaison to the Association’s auditors; represent the Board of Directors in discharging its responsibilities relating to the accounting, reporting, and financial practices of the ASA; have general responsibility for surveillance of internal controls, accounting, and audit activities of the ASA; ensure the audit is carried out in a fiscally sound manner; review with the audit firm their audit procedures, including the scope and timing of the audit, the results of the annual audit, and any accompanying management letters; assess the adequacy of internal controls and risk management systems; review the IRS Form 990, 990-T, and Virginia Form 500; review the document destruction and whistleblower policies; and review material about any pending legal proceedings involving the ASA. recommend an audit firm to the Board of Directors. It serves as the Board of Directors’ liaison to the Association auditors. It is responsible for seeing that the audit is carried out in a fiscally sound manner and that reports are prepared as needed by the Board of Directors.
4.b. Budget Committee. The Budget Committee shall consist of the three Vice Presidents and Treasurer, the latter ex officio without vote. The senior Vice President shall serve as chair of the committee. It is responsible The Committee shall annually recommend the operating budget for the coming fiscal year, including the Association staff compensation budget (salaries and fringe benefits), for action by the Board of Directors; periodically review the Association’s financial results in comparison to the budget; and periodically assess the facilities needs of the Association home office. for annually proposing the budget for the coming fiscal year. It is responsible for annually recommending a budget for action by the Board of Directors. It is also responsible for annually evaluating the capital budget, the salary classification structure, and the fringe benefits for the Association staff. It shall also periodically review the incomes, expenditures, and allocations during the year for consistency with the budget; the accounting system employed and the budgeting process; and the facilities need of the Association home office. If it so chooses, the Board of Directors as a group may serve as the Budget Committee.
5.d. Finance Investments Committee. The Finance Investments Committee shall recommend to the Board of Directors, and assess adherence to, investment guidelines that will improve the safety, return, reporting, or management of the investment accounts; periodically review the holdings in the investment accounts of the Association; assess appropriate benchmarks for investment performance; evaluate the performance of the investment managers and consultants; recommend to the Board of Directors, as appropriate, steps that will improve the safety, return, reporting, and/or management of the investment accounts; and such other matters related to the financial performance of the Association as the Board may assign from time to time.recommend long-term financial planning, supervise the investments of the Association, and carry out other duties as determined by the Board of Directors. The Finance Committee shall consist of the Treasurer as chair and six full members, each serving a three-year term, designated by the President-Elect.
Other revision recommendations:
Article X. PUBLICATIONS
4. Directory. At suitable intervals, the Association shall make available a directory of its members. At suitable intervals, the Constitution and By-Laws of the Association shall be published.
Article II. FINANCE
3. Authority. All funds of the Association shall be deposited with the Treasurer, who shall make disbursement therefrom under regulations of the Board of Directors. The Treasurer shall have authority to purchase securities with funds that the Board of Directors has designated for investment and to sell such securities, but such purchases and sales shall be made only in accordance with such guidelines as the Board of Directors shall prescribe.
The Board of Directors may appoint full members of the Association residing outside the United States to serve as depositories for funds.
With the approval of the Board of Directors, the Treasurer may delegate the powers listed in the first paragraph of this section, as well as the power to sign checks and to access safe-deposit boxes.
4. Surety Bonds. All persons who are responsible for the disbursement of funds shall be insured by a surety and performance bond in amounts and with companies approved by the Board of Directors. Fidelity: All persons who are responsible for the disbursement of funds shall be held as covered under a blanket Employee Dishonesty policy at limits approved by the Board of Directors.
10. Indemnity. The Association shall indemnify each person who was or is a party or is threatened to be made a party to any threatened, pending, or completed action, suit, or proceeding, whether civil, criminal, administrative, or investigative, by reason of serving at the request of the Association as a director, officer, employee, or agent of another organization, against all judgments, penalties, fines, and settlements, and against all reasonable expenses, including attorneys’ fees, actually incurred in connection with such action, suit, or proceeding, to the fullest extent permitted by Massachusetts law, except if the actual or potential liability is due to the person’s own negligence or gross negligence, or criminal misconduct, or action in violation of ASA rules or policies.
Note: In accordance with the bylaws, the membership shall have 75 days to review and respond to any proposed change. Please direct comments to the executive director and ASA secretary by September 15, 2018. Member comments will be shared with the ASA Board of Directors before further action regarding these changes is taken.
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 is 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.
Data for Good volunteers can be found in many places and situations—at work, Data for Good organizations like Statistics without Borders, DataKind, and topic-driven organizations focused on a particular subject such as supporting a school. One area attracting volunteers for good causes are faith-based organizations. Obviously, Data for Good brings in people across the spectrum—from entirely secular to religiously motivated, from every faith and none. For those connected to a faith-based group in some way, Data for Good volunteers can be an invaluable resource.
Many faith-based groups have turned to statistics and data science as critical components of achieving their mission of serving people and the community. Identifying drivers of poverty and homelessness, survey design and analysis, models to improve the effectiveness of refugee programs, discrimination and injustice research, and data-driven guidance for reform initiatives such as prisons and sentencing are a few examples of how faith-based groups are using statistical volunteers today. The most common use of statistics, however, is in operations research for the organization itself—surveys to understand the needs and interests of members, increasing membership and fundraising, and optimizing the use of space and other resources.
A great example of what can be done at a local level can be found at a synagogue in Chicago, Congregation Rodfei Zedek. Located near The University of Chicago and with many people having analytic experience in the congregation, Rodfei Zedek has formed its own informatics committee. Led by congregation member and statistician Andrea Frazier, the team’s goals include building stronger relationships and fostering data-driven decision-making.
An important analytic use case for any membership organization is … membership! The informatics committee at Rodfei Zedek needs to track both individual and group memberships—classes and activities, households, and larger family associations. The informatics team digitized all the records, cleaned the data, established variables for various group memberships, and flagged special skills—for example, informatics! All members are matched to roles in which they possess the requisite skills to broaden the number of people participating. This database has resulted in more efficient program management, improved program participation, and better use of member resources.
The informatics team also evaluates programs. Surveys are conducted using one of the common online survey tools and the data analyzed and visualizations created to better understand how people feel about programs. Analysis produces data-driven insights to guide improvements. Predictive modeling is used to understand the key factors driving member engagement and estimate the attendance to be expected for a given event. Events can be selected based of the level of interest within the group and planned with clear expectations of the amount of participation. An event that will attract dozens or more can be placed in a larger room and more volunteers recruited to support it.
As people involved with charity management will be familiar, some important activities will attract just a handful of people. Predictive analytics can direct these toward smaller meeting rooms, or even other locations such as people’s homes.
Many important religious celebrations occur on different days in the civil calendar each year. Easter, for example, falls on the Sunday after the first full moon in spring, while Diwali falls on the new moon in the period from late October to early November.
Predictive analytics can describe the interaction of these “moveable feasts” with the civil calendar based on day of the week and other events. Analytics predicting attendance—and therefore required resources—can also address over-crowded holiday periods. Predictive analytics can support an answer to those who want to push one more event into an already over-crowded holiday period by giving solid estimates of the number of volunteers required and how many people will be able to participate.
Statistical science can analyze and identify the challenges facing the wider community, enabling closer partnerships and helping to address the sadly common issue of congregations that have grown away from their surrounding community. Frazier emphasizes the diverse purposes Data for Good can serve, which can be used “to save the world, but it’s also valuable for enhancing your own community. … It’s a great tool for the greater good!”
Once an informatics team is developed, it can take on challenges well beyond the walls of the congregation. Assessing the needs of the community, fighting poverty and homelessness, supporting local schools—almost any objective of the community groups you are active in can be helped by a Data for Good team.
While the Rodfei Zedek informatics team was developed to use the analytic resources available within a particular community of faith, the model can be applied to many kinds of organizations. School support groups, service organizations (e.g., Rotary, Kiwanis, etc.), alumni organizations, and many more can benefit. As long as there is a large group of people, especially where there are many professions, there is likely to be a subset with the analytic and data skills needed to form an informatics team.
Does your community, civic, faith-based, or other organization use statistics and data science for projects in your community? Let us know! We are always looking for inspiring examples of Data for Good to feature in this column.
For new Data for Good opportunities this month, consider having a look at Statistics Without Borders. It’s a great organization with many wonderful opportunities to work in Data for Good. Also, Peace-Work is looking for people interested in homelessness solutions to study the Utah program that has reduced homelessness there by 91% in recent years and perform economic analysis of the feasibility of doing the same in the investigator’s home state. You can contact them via their website.
Many academics and fields use Twitter as a professional resource. As we all know, statistics education is a field filled with great ideas and wonderful people from all over the world. However, searches for posts relating to statistics education return few results, indicating a lack of presence of our field on Twitter. The information below should help academics and professionals who work at the intersections of statistics, education, and teaching to create and use Twitter accounts to help develop an active, informative social media network.Definitions
- Microblogging: Activity or practice of making short, frequent posts to a microblog (e.g., Twitter).
- Hashtag: A word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) and used to identify messages about a specific topic.
- List: A curated group of Twitter accounts. You can create your own lists or subscribe to lists created by others. Viewing a list timeline will show you a stream of Tweets from only the accounts on that list.
- Follow: Following another user means that all their tweets will appear in your feed.
- Build/maintain professional networks: during conferences; information sharing; literature recommendations; learn about academic/professional opportunities; career advice; microblogging
- Advertise: research; events; publications; other updates
- Increase visibility: individual; field
- Using Twitter in Academia
- Using Twitter in University Research, Teaching, and Impact Activities: A Guide for Academics and Researchers
- 10 Commandments of Twitter for Academics
- Twitter Glossary
- @AmstatNews American Statistical Association
- @RoyalStatSoc Royal Statistical Society
- @CAUSEweb Consortium for the Advancement of Undergraduate Statistics Education
- @NCTM National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
- @IntCSE International Centre for Statistical Education
- @ThisisStats ASA project to raise awareness of careers in statistics
- @signmagazine Statistics magazine and website by the Royal Statistics Society and ASA
- @DrSteveFoti Me
Since a tweet is limited to 140 characters, abbreviations are used to replace commonly used phrases. This is a list of frequently used abbreviations, but you will likely encounter many more. Use your favorite search engine if you need help decoding one.
- RT: retweet
- MT: modified tweet
- FWIW: for what it’s worth
- BTW: by the way
- IMO: in my opinion
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Steven Foti is a clinical assistant professor in the department of biostatistics and the director of the online MS program at the University of Florida. He earned his PhD in statistics education and his MS in statistics from the University of Florida, while earning his BS in applied mathematics and statistics and physics from Clarkson University. He teaches biostatistics courses to both undergraduate and graduate students in public health and medicine. Follow Foti on Twitter by searching @DrSteveFoti.
The Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS) announced in April the establishment of two lectureships named after women: The Elizabeth L. Scott Lecture and the F.N. David Lecture. The lectures will be given in alternate years at the annual Joint Statistical Meetings beginning in 2019.
This will be the first time JSM, which has been held annually since 1840, will have lectures named after women. JSM is the largest gathering of statisticians in North American and one of the largest in the world. Each year, there are more than 6,000 participants from more than 50 countries.
The Elizabeth L. Scott Lecture and F.N. David Lecture will be included in the COPSS portfolio, which already includes the Fisher Lecture. According to Nick Horton, chair of COPSS, “One of the main tasks for COPSS involves granting awards that highlight the work of notable statisticians. I’m proud that starting in 2019, at least one of the lectures at the JSM will be named after a woman. This is long overdue.”
The Caucus for Women in Statistics (CWS) spearheaded the effort to establish the lectureships. Horton reported the COPSS Executive Committee voted unanimously to approve the CWS proposal. CWS partnered with the ASA LGBT Concerns Committee, ASA Committee on Women in Statistics, Statistical Society of Canada Committee on Women, International Statistical Institute Committee on Women, and International Biometric Society ENAR/WNAR.
The idea that too few women receive national recognitions for their research and scholarship is not new. The National Science Foundation in 2010 established an AWARDS project “to investigate and improve the process of granting awards and prizes for scholarly achievement” in disciplines like statistics. This project led to many association reforms.
Establishing a new named lecture slot at JSM for the Scott and David lectures is another significant step forward in advancing the statistics profession. It adds a face to the profession’s ongoing and growing commitment to diversity and inclusion. 2018 CWS President Shili Lin remarked, “I’m so excited and grateful that the long overdue recognitions for women in statistics in the form of two named lectures are finally here, and here to stay!”
The first lecture will be the F.N. David Lecture. It will be given at JSM 2019 in Denver, Colorado, from July 27 to August 1. ASA Committee on Women in Statistics Chair Kimberly Sellers said, “Already looking forward to JSM 2019!”
For more information about the lectureships, contact Lin.
Building supportive communities within our broad field helps create pipelines through which talented individuals from all backgrounds can enter into our discipline. One such pipeline is StatFest, which is a one-day conference aimed at encouraging undergraduate students from historically under-represented groups to consider careers and graduate studies in statistics.
Organizers of StatFest typically endeavor to reach undergraduate and high-school students. However, they discovered their efforts to build community this year extended the pipeline to at least one person who is a bit younger.
This year’s youngest attendee was 10-year-old Dawson Batemon, who accompanied his mother, Erica Dawson, as she balanced professional and family service.
Erica is an epidemic intelligence officer at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She was an invited panel speaker who has learned to use the often-unavoidable overlap between professional and personal life to her advantage.
She says, “I felt extremely comfortable bringing my son to the workshop. Everyone welcomed and embraced him. StatFest has a sense of community that enables participation from parents, like myself.” Dawson has accompanied her to several events such as this year’s StatFest and been exposed to the same guidance and wisdom used to motivate high-school and undergraduate students.
Dawson’s favorite subject in school is mathematics, and he uses his mathematical skills as a member of the LEGO Robotics Team at his school. Erica believes her love for mathematics and the support she has received from this community has contributed to his enjoyment of mathematics.
She says, “He gets a lot of exposure to opportunities beyond high school and undergraduate studies. This normalizes the notion that people from under-represented groups can successfully earn advanced degrees in mathematical sciences.”Program Summary
This year’s StatFest brought 150 students and professionals to Emory University to connect to and learn from graduate students; early career professionals; and established leaders in academia, industry, and government.
In addition, participants benefited from panel discussions that addressed topics such as careers in statistics and the graduate student experience. Participants also took advantage of structured activities that helped enhance their networking skills.
Former ASA President Sastry Pantula provided a special presentation that highlighted student opportunities within the ASA, while former ENAR president F. Dubois Bowman provided insight into how to prepare for graduate school admission.
A special presentation was held in honor of Nagambal Shah, founder of StatFest. She was presented with flowers and a plaque to honor her initiation of this annual event and her continued contributions to the ASA’s Committee on Minorities in Statistics (CMS).
The chair of this year’s StatFest Planning Committee was Reneé Moore, chair of the ASA’s CMS.
StatFest 2018 will be held at Amherst College on September 23. Check the Committee on Minorities in Statistics website for more information if you are interested in participating in the next StatFest or the CMS’s other key initiative, the Diversity Mentoring Program.
The editorial office of the Journal of Privacy and Confidentiality—a multidisciplinary journal focused on the interface of social, computer, and statistical sciences—has migrated to Cornell University, where it is now managed by Lars Vilhuber at the Labor Dynamics Institute.
In 2008, Cynthia Dwork of Harvard, Stephen Fienberg of Carnegie Mellon, and Alan Karr of RTI issued a call for papers on privacy and confidentiality to be published in a new journal—the Journal of Privacy and Confidentiality. The novelty of their call was that it was addressed to multiple, usually separate, constituencies. Statisticians, computer scientists, lawyers and social scientists, health researchers, and survey designers have all responded to the call over the years and been published in the journal.
In the editorial of the first issue, US Census Bureau Chief Scientist John Abowd, Kobbi Nissim of Georgetown University, and Chris Skinner of the London School of Economics noted that “Gargantuan online services gather petabytes of data on search queries, online purchases, email exchanges, […] many data users from all of the fields listed above perform analyses that are conditioned on the privacy and confidentiality protections imposed on their work without all the means to assess the consequences of those measures on the inferences they have made.” Those concerns continue to resonate today.
For nearly seven years, Fienberg was the editor-in-chief of the journal. With his passing in 2016, the journal needed a new home. Vilhuber has assumed the role of managing editor and migrated the journal infrastructure to a new system (Open Journal System). Dwork, Karr, Nissim, and Abowd continue to serve on the editorial board. The Edmund Ezra Day Chair at Cornell University contributes funding to the journal’s operating budget.
The journal is open access, and there is no submission fee. Academics and practitioners from all domains are invited to submit their papers.
ASA member Mary E. Reuder, born in 1923 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, passed away peacefully November 15, 2017, of natural causes at age 94 near her beloved lake home in Shohola, Pennsylvania. She was preceded in death by her husband, Marvin A. Iverson, a social psychologist.
Mary completed her undergraduate work at College of St. Catherine (1944), her MA from Brown University (1945), and her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania (1951). In any era, she was remarkably well trained as a statistician, experimental psychologist, and licensed clinical psychologist, but particularly so at a time when women were not as active in academia as they are today.
She worked for the US Navy as a management specialist and a research psychologist for the Adjunct General’s Office of the US Army before accepting a faculty instructor position at Queens College of the City University of New York in 1954. She rose through the ranks. During her tenure, she held positions as chair of the undergraduate and graduate programs in psychology at Queens College, chaired the Queens College Academic Senate, and was highly active in faculty governance. She retired in 1986 but remained active in the American Psychological Association (APA).
Mary was the recipient of the William James award for outstanding contributions to psychology from the NY State Psychological Association, received funding from the National Science Foundation, and was involved with Sigma Xi. The APA Florence Denmark and Mary E. Reuder award from Division 52 was created in recognition of her scholarly contributions, international outlook, and outstanding mentoring, particularly of junior faculty and undergraduates. Mary was a member of the APA for more than 60 years as a fellow, president of Divisions 1 and 36, and member of the Council of Representatives. She remained active in the APA until she was in her late 80s.
Mary seemed to be just around the corner, waiting for everyone to catch up and with an ever-deepening vision of what it takes to become a well-trained, clear-thinking scientist. No one has done so much for so long to assist students, junior faculty, or the profession. Everyone who met her enjoyed her quick wit, to-the-point challenging questions, uncanny ability to navigate the seas of academia, piercing blue eyes, and—of course—those sandals, which she wore all year long. She is remembered for her generosity in both professional and personal relationships. It will be difficult to fill her sandals, but she left a trail of footprints that many of us will follow.
Jessica Lavery is a biostatistician in the Health Outcomes Research Group at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. She has an undergraduate degree in statistics from Loyola University Maryland and a master’s degree in biostatistics from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
While statisticians are formally taught methodological skills, tactful project management and establishing credibility early on are less often taught, but equally important to successfully contributing to a team. In some settings, such as the medical field where traditional hierarchies drive authority, it may be particularly difficult as an early-career statistician to establish credibility and manage projects with confidence. To build expertise and command respect from the get-go, or to re-work the current dynamic on a project team, several subtle tactics may be used.
At the Women in Statistics and Data Science (WSDS) conference in October 2017, I shared tools picked up during my first few years as a statistician that have proven useful in being taken seriously by senior collaborators. I share them again with you here.Managing Expectations
At the beginning of collaboration, it is important to establish that the scope of a statistician’s responsibilities often spans beyond producing analyses. The level of involvement by the statistician certainly varies across institutions and may vary across projects and investigators, as well. For this reason, it is most beneficial to establish what your skills are and how you expect to use them at the beginning of each project and on an ongoing basis so your collaborator is aware of how you expect to be involved. Do you expect to be consulted at the beginning of a project, or on an ad hoc basis as the project progresses? Do you anticipate writing part of the manuscript, or to only review the methods and results sections? Do you want to be involved in all project meetings, or only meetings that are statistics oriented? These are examples of details the collaborator should be informed of from the beginning to set the stage for a successful collaborative relationship.
After you have explained your role, it is important to maintain respect for your expertise throughout the project. Often, intending to be seen as having mastered my role, I’m inclined to say, “Sure, no problem, this task will be easy.” This was something I struggled with in my first job out of graduate school. Of course I can tackle any task you present me with; I just got my master’s degree! Not only does this approach minimize the amount of effort required and results produced, resulting in unrealistic expectations in terms of how long it takes to complete a task, it also conveys the idea that anyone can do my job, devaluing my role on the team. Additionally, if a task comes easily, often that’s only because I went through six years of school to learn how to master that skill.
Instead of saying something is easy, it is more beneficial to say something along the lines of, “This project will involve x, y and z, and I’m looking forward to getting started on it.” This conveys competence, confidence, and enthusiasm without minimizing your contributions.
In addition to wanting to seem so skilled at my job that everything was easy, another challenge I encountered was figuring out the right time to send results to an investigator. Naively, my initial approach was to drop what I was doing if it was a quick request and to always send results the moment they were produced. Of course, this sense of urgency would be necessary in the presence of a deadline, but it can lead to setting up unreasonable expectations in the absence of one.
Like saying something is easy, constantly having a short turnaround time implies your job is quick and effortless and you are constantly on call, ready and waiting to immediately handle all requests. Even investigators with good intentions will learn they can wait until the last minute to ask for something, since it takes such a short time to produce. Instead of immediately replying with results, acknowledging you have received the request and intentionally delaying sending the results for a short time helps manage your collaborators’ expectations and provides buffer time for you to digest the results before disseminating.Collaborating and Communicating
In the day to day, back and forth of collaborating, several subtle language modifications can be helpful in enforcing the idea that you are an integral part of the team.
As statisticians, we are often taught to speak the same language as our collaborators, and this cannot be emphasized enough. Giving an example or explaining an analysis in the same content area as the project prevents your clinical collaborator from having to translate from an abstract content area to statistics, and from statistics back to their content area. As an example, working in oncology, I would want to avoid explaining a methodology based on agriculture plots, even though this is how I was taught a lot of statistics. My oncologist collaborator is then translating ideas from agriculture to statistics to oncology, opening a lot of opportunity for things to get lost in translation. While this may sound obvious, it is something that serves us well to remember.
Using the term “we” instead of “you” ingrains you into the research team. Asking, “What question are we trying to answer?” conveys you are equally invested in the research.
I used to frequently insert “just,” as in, “I’m just emailing to …” or “I just wanted to …” The intention is to be polite and deferential, but what this does is indicate we are in a position of inferiority when we deserve to be an equal collaborator. If I am emailing to follow up with a collaborator who ignored my last email for a week, inserting “just” makes me feel like I am conveying understanding that they are assiduously working and may not have had time to respond. As equal members in the professional field, it is my collaborator’s responsibility to respond to an email, and I should not feel shy about reaching out. I now scan all emails after drafting them and remove unnecessary instances of “just” (which is most of them) and re-read, noting how much clearer the email sounds.
Upspeak is something I only recently learned about, and I could not stop noticing how frequently I did it once I did. The term upspeak refers to ending what should be a statement as a question. As a simple example, if someone asks when a meeting is and you reply, “The meeting is Monday at noon?” Ending this in a question leaves the group with no more information than before you answered. It is especially important to avoid doing this when sharing results with a group, and to instead speak a sentence as a declaration, portraying more confidence in the answer. It is much easier for a collaborator to be dismissive of an idea or response if it is presented as a question.
Authorship can be a touchy subject, especially when the project team is large. Additionally, clinical collaborators are sometimes unaware that authorship is important to a statistician’s career. It is your responsibility to establish early on what your expectations are regarding any abstracts, as well as the final manuscript. Instead of presenting this as a question—“Can I be listed as second author?”—it is more effective to present a statement such as, “Generally, when a statistician cleans the data, runs the analyses, and writes the methods and results, they are awarded second author.” This politely establishes a norm and requires justification by your collaborator if there is going to be a shift.
Collaborating with medical doctors and doctoral-level health services researchers, I often felt conflicted about how to refer to them. Dr. Jones? Ms. or Mrs. Jones? Jane? The trick that comes in handy here is to start formally and then mirror the way someone signs emails. If a collaborator signs off using his or her first name, I take that as an invitation to refer to them as such, connecting on a more personal level and further building a collaborative relationship. Always defaulting back to the more formal name reinforces the idea that you are a subordinate. With that said, if a collaborator indicates a preference for a more formal communication, then it is certainly appropriate to respect that preference.
Last, but certainly not least, it is important to remember that silence is okay. Often, when I present a result or explain a method and a collaborator is processing what I just told them, I continue nervous-talking—speaking rapidly and quickly trailing off into gibberish as I worry something I explained did not make sense. I often fall back on prematurely asking, “Did that make sense?”, pre-emptively suggesting I was incoherent. Instead, it is more constructive to give the collaborator a few moments to process, and then invite feedback by having the collaborator reiterate their understanding of what you communicated.
Thoroughly explaining your role and consistently communicating the value of your contributions both explicitly and implicitly increases your influence on the project team. Of course, not all tips will be applicable in all scenarios, but I hope you will find some helpful. This is an area in which I am constantly learning, and I look forward to hearing from others about tactics that have proven useful.
My name is Wayne Nelson. I am a semi-retired private statistical consultant and leading expert on reliability data analysis, recurrent events data analysis, and statistical methods for accelerated testing. I also give training courses for clients and professional societies. An employee of General Electric Corporation Research and Development for 24 years, I consulted across the company. As an adjunct professor at Union College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, I taught graduate courses on the theory and application of statistics.Tell us about what you like to do for fun when you are not being a statistician.
When I was 12, my grade school gave me ballroom dance lessons with girls. Now 81, I’m still dancing with them—but, today, it’s Argentine tango, which is a three-minute romance. Seriously, dancing social ballroom at age 60, I discovered Argentine tango, became addicted, and now need a “tango fix” two or three times a week.What drew you to this hobby, and what keeps you interested?
Argentine tango has various charms. Few in number, tangueros are friendly and welcoming to all dancers. I’ve been warmly welcomed in dances all over the US and abroad, including Buenos Aires, Cairo, Mexico City, Bordeaux, and embargoed Havana (I went there as a wetback).
Used to dancing chest-to-chest (heart to heart) and cheek-to-cheek, tangueros warmly hug friends on greeting. No other dance has such intimate contact—chest, head, feet, calves, and, yes, thighs.
The women dance only on the balls of their feet and have gorgeous legs. It is the world’s most difficult social dance, an enticing challenge that requires years to master. I’ve been working on tango for 20 years. Still humbly learning.
Tango music is romantic, beautiful, and expressive of feelings. Good social dancers express the feeling of the music using suitable “figuras” (dance patterns) and rhythms; that is, they spontaneously choreograph. Such musicality is rare in social ballroom dancing, which uses a simple repeating rhythm for each dance style. Hear the beautiful tango “Invierno” [Winter] and see charming professional choreography on YouTube.
The best dancers have outstanding technique that feels wonderful to partners. Ballroom partners are performer wannabes and try to look good. Tangueros try to feel good to partners. My partners have ranged from clumsy sumo wrestlers to butterfly angels who are lighter and follow me better than my shadow. I always fall in love with the angels. A tango with an angel is three minutes in heaven. Such a tango dance is described in Buenos Aires as “one heart with four legs.
Now 81 and an advanced dancer, I am flattered when asked to dance by gorgeous young 60-year-olds I don’t know. At a tango dance in the Catskills, Marilyn—a most attractive and skilled tanguera—invited me to dance with her in New York City. We’ve danced in Central Park, in the pavilion at the end of Pier 45 as the sun sets in New Jersey, in the UN Building, and in many tango clubs and dance halls. Tango brought me this much-treasured friend.
Some special tango moments for me include:
- Traditional tango with a 2/4 or 4/4 (march) tempo
- Waltz tango with 3/4 time (a three-beat measure), which is like a Viennese waltz but with a faster tempo
- Milonga with a 2/4 or 4/4 (march) tempo, which is faster than traditional tango
These dance styles have a common base, and each has some unique steps and customs. There are other styles of tango. In the US, ballroom dancers dance “American tango,” which is much like fox trot danced to music with a heavy drum beat, for example, “Hernando’s Hideaway.” International tango is a studio-invented competition style with exaggerated stylized movement, such as head snapping, and the men wear tails and the women wear long ball gowns. In addition to the social Argentine tango, there is professional stage tango, called fantasy tango. It is athletic and complicated with high speed and lifts.
The largest congregation of statisticians in the world happens every August during the Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM). More than 6,000 people attend these meetings, which are sponsored by 11 statistical societies, including the American Statistical Association. The meetings offer a variety of activities such as attending research presentations, interviewing for jobs, taking professional development courses and workshops, and browsing the exhibit hall. With so many opportunities, new attendees can be overwhelmed easily by their first JSM experience.
Based on my familiarity with attending meetings over the last 18 years and the experiences of student groups I have led, I’m going to provide some tips on how to get the most out of JSM. If you would like to share your own recommendations, I encourage you to submit a comment below.Important Links
Student Opportunities Before JSM
Most new attendees who choose to present their research do so in a contributed session via an oral or poster presentation. The deadline to submit an abstract for acceptance into the program was in early February. For those who did this, additional proof of progress (e.g., drafts of a paper) for the presentation must be submitted by mid-May.
A preliminary program listing the presentation schedule is now available. Because there may be more than 40 concurrent presentations at any time, it is best to arrive at JSM with an idea of which to attend. This can be done by examining the session titles and performing keyword searches in the online program prior to JSM.
Oral presentations are separated into invited, topic-contributed, and contributed sessions, with each session lasting 1 hour and 50 minutes. Invited and topic-contributed sessions include groups of related presentations that were submitted together and selected by JSM Program Committee members. These presentations each last for 25 or more minutes for invited and 20 minutes for topic-contributed. Contributed sessions include groups of 15-minute oral presentations. Unlike invited and topic-contributed sessions, contributed presentations are submitted individually and then grouped by JSM Program Committee members.
Poster presentations are also separated into invited, topic-contributed, and contributed sessions, with the vast majority in contributed sessions. These types of presentations involve speakers being available for questions next to their displayed poster during the entire session. Most posters are of the traditional paper format. An increasing number now are in an electronic format paired with a short four-minute oral presentation. For this combination of presentation types, the oral portion is given first in what is known as a “speed” session. A few hours later, the corresponding electronic poster presentation takes place.
Online registration for JSM begins around May 1. For members of a sponsoring statistical society, the cost is $455 during the early registration period. The cost increases to $555 if you register at JSM.
Registration for student members is only $120, and this rate is available at any time. Also starting around May 1, you can reserve a hotel room through the JSM website. A number of hotels near the convention center are designated as official conference hotels, and they discount their normal rates. However, even with a discount, you can expect to pay $200 or more per night for a room.
Attending JSM can be expensive. Students have several options to reduce the cost burden. First, ask your adviser or department for funding. Many departments offer financial support for students who present their research at JSM. Students also may qualify for funding from the student activities office on their campus. For example, when I was a student, my department’s statistics club received funding this way, which paid for most of my first JSM expenses.
In addition to school-based resources, many ASA sections sponsor student paper competitions that provide travel support to award winners. For example, the Biometrics Section of the ASA sponsors the David P. Byar Young Investigators Award, with $2,000 awarded to the winner and separate $1,000 awards given to authors of other outstanding papers. Most competitions require a completed paper to be submitted many months prior to JSM.At JSM
JSM begins on a Sunday afternoon in late July. Business casual clothing is the most prevalent attire, but some attendees wear suits and others wear T-shirts and shorts. When you arrive at JSM, go to the registration counter at the convention center to obtain your name badge (if not already mailed to you) and additional conference materials.
There is a significant online presence during JSM. A main resource is the JSM app and online program. Both contain all the information you will need, including a convention center map. Also, the ASA posts the most up-to-date news about JSM through its Twitter (@AmstatNews) and Facebook accounts. Attendees at JSM can use #JSM2018 to tag their JSM-related posts.
To welcome and orient new attendees, the JSM First-Time Attendee Orientation and Reception is scheduled for early Sunday afternoon. At this reception, docents will be present (identified with a special orange button by their name badge) to answer any questions you may have about the meetings. These docents will be available throughout the conference as well.
Later on Sunday evening, the Opening Mixer will be held in the exhibit hall. This event is open to all attendees, and drinks and hors d’oeuvres will be served.
In between the orientation and the mixer, the ASA Awards Celebration and Editor Appreciation session is held. Many first-time attendees are honored during it due to being awarded a scholarship or winning a student paper competition.
The main sessions start Sunday at 2:00 p.m. Many of the research presentations are difficult to understand completely. My goal for a session is to have 1–2 presentations in which I learn something relevant to my teaching or research interests. This may seem rather low, but these items add up after attending many sessions.
For attendees who teach introductory courses, the sessions sponsored by the ASA Section on Statistical Education are often the easiest to understand. Many share innovative ideas about how to teach particular topics.
Introductory overview lectures are another type of session that has easier-to-understand topics. Recent lectures have included introductions to variable selection, statistical learning, and quantile regression. There are also many Professional Development courses and workshops available for an additional fee. However, you can attend a course for free by volunteering prior to JSM to be a monitor. Monitors perform duties such as distributing and picking up materials during the course. As an added benefit, monitors can attend one additional course for free without any duties. Those who are interested should contact Rick Peterson.
Featured talks at JSM are usually scheduled for late afternoon on Monday through Wednesday. On Tuesday evening, the ASA president’s address is given, along with an introduction to the new ASA fellows and winners of the Founders Award. The fellow’s introduction is especially interesting because approximately 60 ASA members (<0.33% of all members) are recognized for their contributions to the statistics profession.
In addition to presentations, the JSM exhibit hall features more than 90 companies and organizations exhibiting their products and services. Many exhibitors give away free items (e.g., candy, pens, etc.). All the major statistics textbook publishers and software companies are there. Textbook publishers usually offer a discount on their books during JSM and often for a short time after. The exhibit hall also includes electronic charging stations and tables that can be used for meetings. Additionally, it’s the location for the poster presentations.
The JSM Career Service provides a way for job seekers and employers to meet. Pre-registration is required, and the fee is discounted if you register before mid-July. The service works by providing an online message center for job seekers and employers to indicate their interest in each other. Once a common interest is established, an interview can be arranged for during the meetings.
Other activities at JSM include the following:
- Shopping at the ASA Store to purchase a statistics-themed T-shirt or mug
- Attending an organized roundtable discussion during breakfast or lunch about a topic of interest (pre-registration is required)
- Taking a little time off from JSM for sightseeing or attending a sporting event
JSM ends in the early afternoon on Thursday. Don’t let what happens at JSM stay at JSM! The first thing I do after the meetings is to prepare a short review of my activities. Using notes I took during sessions, I summarize items from presentations I want to examine further. I also summarize meetings I had with individuals about research or other important topics. Much of this review process starts at the airport while waiting for my return flight.
If you give a presentation at JSM, you may submit a corresponding paper to be published in the conference proceedings. Papers are not peer-reviewed in the same manner as for journals, but authors are encouraged to have others examine their paper before submission. The proceedings are published online around December. Authors retain the right to publish their research later in a peer-reviewed journal.
Threats to national security come in many forms. In 2016, Russians hacked the United States election. On September 11, 2001, 19 militants associated with the extremist group al-Qaeda hijacked four airplanes, killing nearly 3,000 people. In the 1990s, President Bill Clinton was convinced the global spread of AIDS was reaching catastrophic dimensions and formally designated HIV a threat to United States national security since it could threaten the stability of foreign governments, touch off ethnic wars, and undo recent advances in building free-market democracies abroad.
Defense and national security is the theme of CHANCE 31(2), a special issue. Six articles discuss aspects of national security and how statistics is playing a key role in addressing various issues. David Banks and Alyson Wilson served as guest editors for this issue.
In the first article, Laura Freeman and Catherine Warner discuss implementing statistical design and analysis in the evaluation of the Department of Defense (DoD) operational systems in “Informing the Warfighter—Why Statistical Testing Methods Matter in Defense Testing.” Ron Fricker and Steven Rigdon then discuss surveillance methods applied to detecting and tracking deadly diseases such as influenza (swine flu or bird flu), Ebola, Zika, or SARS. Banks discusses how adversarial risk analysis, a modeling strategy that incorporates an opponent’s reasoning, can be applied to a range of problems in counterterrorism. Douglas Ray and Paul Roediger then discuss adaptive testing of DoD systems with a binary response. The evolution of statistical modeling of military recruiting is the topic of an article by Samuel Buttrey, Lyn Whitaker, and Jonathan Alt. Susan Sanchez discusses the use of data farming, using tools and techniques for the design and analysis of large simulation experiments, as applied to defense problems.
In an independent article, Beverly Wood, Megan Mocko, Michelle Everson, Nick Horton, and Paul Velleman evaluate clarifications and updates to the six recommendations for teaching from the original, foundational GAISE College Report. They consider evolutions affecting the teaching and practice of statistics, including the rise of data science, an increase in the number of students studying statistics, increasing availability of data, and advances in science and technology. They discuss how the original recommendations can be clarified by acknowledging these developments.
In the Odds of Justice column, Mary Gray evaluates the death penalty and the role statistics is playing and can play in evaluating its appropriateness. In Visual Revelations, Howard Wainer and Michael Friendly take a historical look at visualization and the profound impact visual communication has had, going back to ancient civilizations.
All ASA members have access to CHANCE online by logging in to members only and clicking on ASA publications.
Applications are being accepted for the JSM Diversity Mentoring Program, one of the initiatives of the American Statistical Association’s Committee on Minorities in Statistics.
The program is designed to promote the statistics profession among under-represented minority populations in the US (African-American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American). Graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and early-career professionals are brought together with senior-level statisticians/biostatisticians and faculty in academia, government, and the private sector in a structured program during the 2018 Joint Statistical Meetings.
This multi-day program (Sunday, July 29, through Wednesday, August 1) provides career information, mentoring, and networking activities. Program activities include small-group discussions and one-on-one meetings between mentor-mentee pairs.
The Arizona Chapter concluded its first ASA DataFest competition on March 25 with excellent participation from students of Arizona State University’s Tempe and West campuses. A total of 15 teams comprised of 49 students finished the weekend-long competition.
Referred to as a data hackathon, ASA DataFest challenges undergraduates to analyze a large data set from industry over a weekend and present their results before judges.
Many of the students began learning R for the competition, but at least one of the teams relied heavily on their training in SAS for their data preparation and analyses. Visualization was one of the judging criteria, yet teams were seen learning to use a commercial package like Tableau on the spot for their analyses and presentations. A few teams ventured into building quick models, ranging from logistic regressions, to time series, to machine learning. Clearly, many of the students took up the challenges and used the competition as a way to strengthen their technical skills while conducting data analyses.
More than 30 mentors signed up to help the students overcome DataFest’s challenges. Most of the mentors were graduate students and faculty at ASU, but members of the Arizona Chapter saw many data professionals from local business and industry participating, too.
An attempt was made to find mentors who could help with specific languages or software tools and such effort was not wasted. Python and Tableau experts were announced upon arrival and immediately found teams seeking assistance in applying those tools to their analyses.
The competition finished Sunday afternoon with student presentations of their key findings. The ASU site was fortunate to have a representative of the data donor among the panel of five judges. A senior analyst from the health care sector provided another perspective on judging. ASA members Steve Robertson of Southern Methodist University, John Stufken of ASU, and Ji-Hyun Lee of The University of New Mexico rounded out the panel. Lee, who is also the current Council of Chapters district vice chair, not only judged, but also was present for the entire event. Besides working with the students, she took time to talk with members about the needs and opportunities for leadership roles in the chapters and ASA.
The North Carolina Chapter offered the ASA’s statistical leadership course to its members in March. Gary Sullivan from the ASA’s ad-hoc leadership committee came to the Research Triangle Park area to lead a course that included personal reflection, group discussions, and targeted exercises to develop a greater awareness of leadership.
Local leaders involved in the courses included David Banks of Duke University and Abie Ekangaki of biopharmaceutical company UCB. Banks spoke of his personal leadership development, from working in his role in government to his current position as director of the Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute. Ekangaki explained the differences between leadership and leaders and the implications of those differences inside an organization’s structure.