Recollections and Thoughts About JSM in San Diego
Click here to view pictures from JSM 2012.
Steve MacEachern, JSM 2012 Program Chair
A particular pleasure within the statistics community—whether corporate, government, or academic—is the chance to travel to professional meetings. I find I am always energized by a meeting and also worn out by its end. The energy comes from the excitement of seeing novel ideas that give us a new perspective on old issues, from being introduced to new problems that have been opened up by technological innovation, from seeing sharp, clear examples of terrific statistical practice, and from seeing the importance of problems the community is addressing. Additional energy that may account for being worn out by the end of JSM week comes from the vibrant social scene—seeing old friends and meeting new ones. What follows are a few of my recollections and thoughts about JSM in San Diego. I’m sure each of us has many fine memories of the event.
First off, San Diego: What a wonderful location for JSM. As advertised, the weather was perfect, there was an abundance of hotels and eateries nearby, and the food was excellent—even at the street fair I wandered into. The convention center was laid out well, with good room size and acoustics. The “tunnel” view coming down the escalator was worth a photo or two. I enjoyed the sessions being split between the convention center and headquarter hotel, as it generated a few short walks outside. I think it’s a fine tradition to circulate JSM among a large number of cities, but I certainly hope for a return to San Diego.
The Introductory Overview Lectures (IOLs) were a big hit once again, as they provide us all with a chance to learn about a new area from experts who lay out the main ideas and a few pithy examples—all in an hour and 50 minutes. This year, the IOLs covered causal inference, personalized medicine, sparsity, and climate. Thanks to Judea Pearl, Don Berry, Dave Donoho, and Peter Guttorp for their efforts in putting together a fine set of presentations.
Big import sessions included the late-breaker on statisticians’ roles in health care reform, organized by John Adams, and the session on statistics and human rights, organized by Jay Kadane.
Developments in professional organizations are always of interest. JSM has grown dramatically since the first I attended, nearly 30 years ago. The meeting is larger, the crowds are far more diverse, and good penmanship has been replaced by artistic page layout. New sections are forming, and their growth is expanding the ASA in varied directions. Two of note are the Section for Statistical Programmers and Analysts (more than 1,800 members in just two years of existence) and the Section on Statistical Learning and Data Mining. The former has attracted many from outside academia; the latter includes many with backgrounds in computer science and related fields. Sessions sponsored by these sections provided a good opportunity to broaden one’s knowledge, and both fit well with ASA President Bob Rodriguez’s Big Tent initiative.
The technical sessions are always a highlight of JSM, and we each have our favorites. For me, Thursday morning is a treat. The relaxed atmosphere as JSM winds down imparts the feel of a smaller meeting, and the program is every bit as strong as the earlier days. This year, I saw excellent sessions on Bayesian methods in the health sciences and design of computer experiments.
The posters were enjoyable, with a good location in the exhibit hall and ample room for a nice display. The new electronic posters were a success, opening up many dynamic possibilities. Anecdotally, there seem to be more students attending the meetings. A poster presentation is a terrific way to get a start on one’s career.
Attendance at the meetings was strong, with more than 6,300 attendees. Interestingly, I bumped into our divisional dean, a probabilist by trade, and learned that attendance at the big annual meeting in mathematics runs in the mid-5,000s. The comparison shines a spotlight on the vigor and currency of our discipline. I’m already looking forward to next year’s JSM in Montréal, where I’m told the meeting will open with “Bienvenue au Canada.”
I had a terrific time as program chair; my thanks go to Bob Rodriguez and the Committee on Meetings for selecting me for the position. The real work of organizing the meeting falls on two groups—the ASA staff and the JSM Program Committee. During the year, I gained a new appreciation for the difficulty of putting on JSM and the dedication of the ASA staff. My thanks to them for the long hours and late nights they put into making the meeting run so smoothly. The Program Committee was singularly well prepared. They put together a fine technical program and made scheduling easy. My special thanks go to the general methodology chairs, Mark Glickman and Yoonkyung Lee, and the poster chair, Kristin Duncan, all of whom proved a remarkable sounding board.
Many Honored at Presidential Address, Awards Ceremony
Highlighting the ASA Presidential Address and Awards Ceremony during the Joint Statistical Meetings in San Diego, California, were the announcement of the Founders Award winners and the official induction of 48 ASA Fellows. Congratulations to all.
The Founders Award was given to Mary Batcher, Christy Chuang-Stein, and Lynne Stokes for extended, outstanding service to the statistics profession through a variety of leadership roles.
Mary Batcher, Ernst & Young, for outstanding service to ASA chapters through her service as president of the Washington Statistical Society and as chair of the Council of Chapters; for many years of diligent, steady leadership of and service to the ASA’s accreditation program; and for dedicated service on many ASA committees.
Christy Chuang-Stein, Pfizer, Inc., for outstanding service in multiple roles, including vice president, group leader of the Accreditation Committee, and chair of the 175th Anniversary Steering Committee; for dedicated service on the Committee on Fellows, as program chair of the Biopharmaceutical Section, as a member of the JSM Program Committee, and as president of the Southwestern Michigan ASA Chapter.
Lynne Stokes, Southern Methodist University, for outstanding service to ASA over the past 20 years through her leadership in chapters and sections as chair of the Council of Chapters and Council of Sections; editor of The American Statistician; and dedicated contributions on several committees, including the JSM Program Committee, the Census Advisory Committee, and the Committee on Privacy and Confidentiality.
Each year, ASA Fellows are nominated by the membership and selected by the ASA Committee on Fellows, chaired this year by Ji Zhang. The number of Fellows named is limited to no more than one-third of 1% of the active ASA member total. The following 48 ASA Fellows were inducted this year:
Mousumi Banerjee, University of Michigan
Sudipto Banerjee, University of Minnesota
Melissa Begg, Columbia University
F. DuBois Bowman, Emory University
Amy J. Braverman, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
N. Rao Chaganty, Old Dominion University
Dongseok Choi, Oregon Health and Science University
Mark R. Conaway, University of Virginia Health Systems Department of Public Health Sciences
Susmita Datta, University of Louisville
Marc N. Elliott, RAND Corporation
Scott Evans, Harvard School of Public Health
Debashis Ghosh, The Pennsylvania State University
Mithat Gönen, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Robert L. Gould, UCLA
Deborah H. Griffin, U.S. Census Bureau
Jeffrey H. Hooper, BT Group US&C
Nicholas J. Horton, Smith College
Xiaoqiong Joan Hu, Simon Fraser University
Michael G. Hudgens, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Gareth James, University of Southern California
Jae-Kwang Kim, Iowa State University
Michael D. Larsen, The George Washington University
Lawrence I-Kuei Lin, Baxter Healthcare Corporation
Bo Henry Lindqvist, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Jen-Pei Liu, National Taiwan University
Thomas Lumley, University of Auckland
Clyde F. Martin, Texas Tech University
Nancy Mathiowetz, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
Bhramar Mukherjee, University of Michigan
Anna B. Nevius, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Thomas E. Nichols, University of Warwick
A. James O’Malley, Harvard Medical School
R. Todd Ogden, Columbia University
Liang Peng, Georgia Institute of Technology
José C. Pinheiro, Janssen R&D
Christian P. Robert, Universite Paris Dauphine
Abdul J. Sankoh, Vertex Pharmaceuticals
Sanjay Shete, MD Anderson Cancer Center
Judith D. Singer, Harvard University
Marc A. Suchard, University of California, Los Angeles
Thaddeus Tarpey, Wright State University
Ram C. Tripathi, The University of Texas at San Antonio
Andrea Troxel, University of Pennsylvania
Roshan Joseph Vengazhiyil, Georgia Institute of Technology
Colin O. Wu, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Daowen Zhang, North Carolina State University
Kelly Hong Zou, Pfizer Inc.
Rebecca Zwick, Educational Testing Service
Many more people were honored for their contributions to various causes that advance the field of statistics. Following is a list of awards and recipients:
Samuel S. Wilks Memorial Award
The Samuel S. Wilks Memorial Award was established in 1964 to honor the memory and distinguished career of Sam Wilks by recognizing outstanding contributions to statistics that carry on the spirit of his work. The 2012 Wilks award winner is Peter Hall of the University of Melbourne for his pioneering and influential contributions to a wide variety of areas of statistics and probability and for his outstanding service to the profession, with an extensive record of editorial roles, collaborative work, and promotion of statistical science to the wider scientific and educational communities.
Gottfried E. Noether Awards
The Noether awards were established in 1999 by the wife and daughter of the late Gottfried Emanuel Noether of the University of Connecticut as a tribute to his memory. They recognize distinguished researchers and teachers and support research in nonparametric statistics. The Gottfried E. Noether Young Researcher Award winner for 2012 is Guang Cheng, Purdue University, for outstanding early career contributions to nonparametric statistics. The Gottfried E. Noether Senior Scholar Award winner for 2012 is Joseph L. Gastwirth, The George Washington University, for outstanding contributions to the theory, applications, and teaching of nonparametric statistics.
Statistics in Chemistry Award
The Statistics in Chemistry Award recognizes outstanding collaborative endeavors between statisticians and chemists. While this is a section award, the board of directors grandfathered it in 1995 for presentation at the ASA Presidential Address and Awards Ceremony. The 2012 Statistics in Chemistry Award winners are Bradley Jones, JMP Division, SAS Institute, and Scott Allen, Novomer, Inc., for outstanding collaborative work in developing a new catalyst for CO2-based polymers that sequester CO2.
Outstanding Statistical Application Award
Each year, the ASA recognizes a paper that is an outstanding application of statistics in the physical, biological, or medical sciences. This year’s winners are Chae Young Lim and Sarat C. Dass of Michigan State University for developing novel point process models with spatially dependent mark distributions and using them to assess fingerprint individuality. This research was published in their paper, titled “Assessing Fingerprint Individuality Using EPIC: A Case Study in the Analysis of Spatially Dependent Marked Processes,” published in the May 2011 issue of Technometrics.
Edward C. Bryant Scholarship Award
The Bryant scholarship trust is a permanent scholarship fund endowed by Westat to honor its cofounder and longtime leader, Edward C. Bryant. The award honors an outstanding graduate student who is studying survey statistics. The 2012 scholarship recipient is Mark Dahlke of Colorado State University for outstanding academic achievement in a statistical program.
W. J. Dixon Award for Excellence in Statistical Consulting
Established through a gift from the family of Wilfrid Dixon, this award recognizes outstanding contributions to the practice of statistical consulting. The 2012 award was presented to Gary Grove Koch of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for outstanding contributions to the development and review of pharmaceutical licensing applications, to the research on and software development of categorical data analysis, and for advancing the science and art of statistical consulting.
W. J. Youden Award in Interlaboratory Testing
The W. J. Youden award was established in 1985 to recognize the authors of publications that make outstanding contributions to the design and/or analysis of interlaboratory tests or describe ingenious approaches to the planning and evaluation of data from such tests. The 2012 W. J. Youden Award winners are David Dunson of Duke University and Garritt L. Page of Pontifica Universidad Catolica de Chile in recognition of their paper, “Bayesian Local Contamination Models for Multivariate Outliers.” The authors developed a simple but flexible hierarchical model to address multi-analyte, multi-laboratory studies with outlying observations and tested the model using both simulated and real interlaboratory study data.
Waller Education Award
Retired ASA Executive Director Ray Waller and his wife, Carolyn, established the Waller Education Award in 2002 to recognize a statistics teacher early in his/her career for excellence and innovation in teaching introductory statistics at the undergraduate level. The 2012 Waller Award winner is Michael A. Posner of Villanova University in recognition of outstanding contributions to and innovation in the teaching of elementary statistics.
The SPAIG Award
The ASA established the SPAIG Award in 2002 to recognize outstanding partnerships between academe and business, industry, and government organizations and to promote new partnerships. It is the only ASA award that recognizes organizations. This year’s SPAIG award was given to Baylor University and Eli Lilly & Company in recognition of the vision and support provided by Eli Lilly to Baylor University in the creation of a partnership for the enhancement of pharmaceutical research and development.
Gertrude M. Cox Scholarships
Jessica Orth of the University of Minnesota, Morris, and Christine Ho of the University of California at Berkeley are the winners of the Getrude M. Cox Scholarship in Statistics Award. Since 1989, the scholarship has been awarded by the ASA Committee on Women in Statistics and the Caucus for Women in Statistics to encourage women to enter statistically oriented professions. The following women were awarded honorable mentions: Lucy D’Agostino, Naomi Brownstein, Julia Shin-Jung Lee, and Diana Marie Liley.
Karl E. Peace Award
The Karl E. Peace Award for Outstanding Statistical Contributions for the Betterment of Society recognizes statisticians who have made substantial contributions to the statistical profession and society in general. The award—established by Christopher K. Peace, son of Karl Peace, on behalf of the Peace family to honor the life work of his father—was offered for the first time this year. The 2012 Peace award winners are Fritz Scheuren for an exemplary career that has translated impressive statistical contributions into support of humankind and Marvin Zelen for outstanding statistical contributions and dedication to the establishment of collaborative partnerships between biostatistical and clinical sciences.
COPSS Honors Statisticians
Members of the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS) are pleased to announce the 2012 awards, which were presented to the winners at JSM in San Diego, California, by COPSS President Xihong Lin.
The winner of the Presidents’ Award is Samuel S. Kou of Harvard University for groundbreaking contributions to stochastic modeling and statistical inference in single molecule biophysics; for pioneering the equi-energy sampler; for fundamental contributions to Bayesian, empirical Bayes, and nonparametric methods; and for outstanding service to the statistical profession and contribution to statistical education.
Click here to read an interview with COPSS Presdients’ Award winner Sam Kou.
The Elizabeth L. Scott Award was presented to Mary Gray of American University for her lifelong efforts to foster opportunities in statistics for women and to further the careers of academic women; for creating a forum for discussing the role of women in mathematics; for exposing discrimination; and for exchanging strategies, encouraging political action, and promoting affirmative action.
The 2012 Fisher Lecturer was Roderick J. Little of the University of Michigan for outstanding statistical research in the modeling and evaluation of missing data, sample survey, and causal inference; for the clear and comprehensive application of these and other methodologies in science and public policy arenas; and for diverse and effective professional and academic leadership contributions. His lecture was titled “In Praise of Simplicity, not Mathematistry! Ten Simple, Powerful Ideas for the Statistical Scientist.”
Award criteria and nominating procedures are available at the COPSS webpage.