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The End Is Near

1 October 2011 1,906 views One Comment
Keith Crank, ASA Research and Graduate Education Manager
    NSF Business
    Sastry Pantula has agreed to continue as the division director for the Division of Mathematical Sciences at NSF for two more years. The NSF program directors in statistics and probability for fiscal year 2012 are the following:
    Gabor Szekely (gszekely@nsf.gov), Statistics
    Haiyan Cai (hcai@nsf.gov), Statistics
    Nandini Kannan (nkannan@nsf.gov), Statistics
    Tomek Bartoszynski (tbartosz@nsf.gov), Probability

    I have been writing regular Amstat News articles for almost five years, but that will soon end, as I plan to retire from the ASA at the end of the year. My years here have been enjoyable. After a long time at the National Science Foundation (NSF), it was a pleasure to move to the ASA, where the workload is more reasonable and the stress level much lower.

    My position here was a new one when I started. While there was a job description, there were no specific ongoing tasks assigned to it. So, it has come to fit my shape over the years. I am both interested in and (relatively) good at the tasks I complete, but there is room for this position to grow. While there are now specific tasks assigned, whoever replaces me will have some flexibility to shape the job to fit his/her interests and abilities.

    The primary tasks of this position include the following:

    Demographics: Find or collect information about the profession. Analyze the data and become the resource person for questions about demographics on statisticians. This includes conducting the annual survey of departments and the annual salary surveys of academics, as well as helping to coordinate the biannual salary survey of business, industry, and government. It also includes accessing information from other sources, such as Bureau of Labor Statistics data on salaries and employment, National Center for Education Statistics data on degrees earned, and NSF’s Survey of Earned Doctorates.

    Caucus of Academic Representatives: The person in this position is the ASA liaison to the Caucus of Academic Representatives. The caucus is a relatively new organization within the ASA. It was established to provide academic statisticians and biostatisticians with a more formal place within the ASA. Groups of academic statisticians and biostatisticians—including departments, divisions, and less well-defined subgroups within other departments—can join the caucus and be represented by a member of its group. (For departments, this is usually the department chair/head.) The ASA liaison is responsible for working with the caucus to ensure its activities run smoothly. These activities include the annual survey of departments, the chairs’ workshop, the open meeting of the caucus at JSM, and the election of officers.

    Outreach: The demand for statisticians continues to exceed the supply. Although the number of statistics degrees awarded has grown rapidly over the last 10 years (especially at the master’s level), unemployment for statisticians is still near zero. Finding ways to expand our visibility, especially at the high-school and early college level, is important. The growth in number of degrees awarded may suggest we are doing a good job with outreach; however, most of the growth has come from foreign students. This is problematic for two reasons. First, we face the risk that many of them will return to their home countries, rather than taking jobs here. And second, many of our government jobs restrict hiring to U.S. citizens.

    I’ve been involved with the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science. Each year, I organize a scientific session around applications of statistics. In addition, we have an ASA booth in the exhibit hall and there is an informal session in which the participants can talk with statisticians. More needs to be done.

    My “retirement” plans are quite nebulous. I don’t plan to drop out of sight completely, but I do plan to slow down. Just as I believe everyone out there should pay attention to what I write, my body seems to think I should pay attention to it. And it seems to be telling me I’m not so young anymore.

    To contact me, send an email to keith@amstat.org.

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    One Comment »

    • Sastry Pantula said:

      Dear Keith,

      Just want to drop you a note thanking you for your service to our profession. I appreciate what you have been doing for the Caucus of Academic Reps from its fledgling stages.

      Also, I appreciate you keeping our community informed of funding and various opportunities at NSF, including our brand new program in Computational and Data-Enabled Science and Engineering in Mathematical and Statistical Sciences (CDS&E-MSS), and a new statistics program officer, Jia Li (jli@nsf.gov) who is working with this new program and statistics.

      Enjoyed getting to know you over the years, and I wish you the best with your ‘retirement’.