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Celebrating the International Year of Statistics in Montréal

1 October 2013 352 views No Comment

Click here to view pictures from JSM 2013.

Bhramar Mukherjee, JSM 2013 Program Chair
SPEED Sessions
A pilot study of contributed sessions with a new and different format was successfully conducted this year. A recurrent concern for many JSM attendees has been the seemingly unbounded size of the meeting. Having to choose among 46 parallel sessions and navigate the inevitable conflicts that arise has been a source of frustration for many. In Montréal, we tested one possible approach to reducing the number of concurrent sessions: contributed SPEED sessions.

A SPEED session consisted of 20 oral presentations of approximately five minutes each, with a 10-minute break after the first set of 10 talks. These short oral presentations were followed by an electronic poster session on the same day. Light refreshments were offered at the oral presentation sessions. All the sessions were chaired by senior researchers, and the participants were presented with a certificate of appreciation at the poster sessions. The SPEED presenters were offered e-poster facilities during the poster session.

This format appeared to be appealing for presenters and attendees. The four pilot oral presentation sessions attracted more people than a typical contributed session. Participants amazed with their presentation skills, driving in the main point of their work in four and half minutes. The floor discussions were engaging, with 20 researchers commenting on and questioning each other.

We conducted a short attendee satisfaction survey for these sessions and 94% of the 67 respondents expressed satisfaction with the format and are likely to attend SPEED sessions in the future. Responses to other questions suggested that the majority of participants had attended past JSMs and will consider presenting at a SPEED session in the future. We plan to continue this tradition in JSM 2014 and hope you will consider participating in this new venture.

The Joint Statistical Meetings provide a unique opportunity for members of our profession to come together each year and share their scientific ideas. This year’s JSM was special, with the theme being Celebrating the International Year of Statistics. Members of the program committee worked hard to put together an outstanding program, consisting of 692 sessions. The number of registrants in Montréal staggered at 6,033, putting JSM 2013 at third place in terms of registration numbers (2009 Washington, DC, – 6,804; 2012 San Diego – 6,344; 2006 Seattle – tied with Montréal).

This year’s JSM program highlighted the power and impact of statistics on all aspects of science and society on a global scale. Celebrated statistician/writer/journalist/political prognosticator Nate Silver, founder of the award-winning FiveThirtyEight.com political website, was the President’s Invited Address speaker on August 5. The attendance at his lecture was unbelievable, filling a 4,000-seat auditorium and leading to an electrifying atmosphere rarely experienced at a scientific meeting. Many people stood to get a glimpse of Silver, who has turned into a cult figure since the last presidential election. His address focused on the interface of statistics and journalism. In a candid and interactive Q&A session, Silver responded to questions twittered by members of the audience. Among his many wonderful quotes, there was one I liked in particular. He essentially said no matter what you call our discipline—data science or statistics—just do the work right!

There were many wonderful sessions and named lectures, a regular feature of every JSM. Sessions reflected the global eminence of our profession in diverse directions and illustrated cutting-edge technical advancements. I am able to mention only a few here. A new feature this year was an outstanding ensemble of seven Introductory Overview Lectures (IOLs) in the large ballrooms. On Sunday, we started with “Celebrating the History of Statistics,” presented by Alan Agresti, Xiao-Li Meng, and Stephen Stigler. Agresti and Meng asked some difficult questions related to the history of statistics in the United States and gave away free copies of their new book, Strength in Numbers: The Rising of Academic Statistics Departments in the U.S., as prizes. Steve Stigler connected the work of Galton and Darwin on heritability and selection in a beautiful statistical thread.

The IOLs remained popular in terms of attendance throughout the conference, covering a varying range of topics: “Twenty Years of Gibbs Sampling/MCMC,” by Alan Gelfand and Jeff Rosenthal; “Big Data,” by Bin Yu and Bill Cleveland; “Mediation and Confounding,” by Tyler VanderWeele; “Next-Generation Bioinformatics and Beyond,” by Rebecca Doerge and Rafa Irizzary; “Personalized Medicine: Tailoring Treatment to the Right Patient,” by Butch Tsiatis and Stephen Ruberg; “Inference from Complex Sample Surveys—Past Controversies, Current Orthodoxies, Future Paradigms,” by Rod Little.

Reflecting the theme of this JSM, the program had many sessions on Big Data and international capacity building in statistics. ASA President Marie Davidian urged the worldwide statistics community to engage in the Big Data movement in her presidential address. In an invited panel session celebrating 50 years of the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies, energized discussion and debate took place regarding the future of our profession; training of the next generation of statistical scientists; and learning from related fields like computer science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. The moderator of the session, Bernard Silverman, analyzed data regarding past recipients of the prestigious COPSS awards over the years and emphatically pointed out the very obvious skewness in terms of gender distribution, indicating the need for a change!

Poster Sessions
Joyee Ghosh, JSM 2013 Poster Chair

This year, there were five poster sessions with up to 75 traditional posters and six poster sessions with up to 20 electronic posters. The invited poster session chaired by David Dunson and held in conjunction with the opening mixer on Sunday night was a success. This session consisted of 19 electronic posters with many dynamic presentations on a variety of topics such as the role of data scientists, creating a network of statistical laboratories in developing countries, and methods and applications in biomedical data. There were many attendees, and most presenters were engaged in explaining their work for the entire two-hour session. Given the large turnout, this time slot seems promising for the invited poster session of future JSMs.

There were two poster competitions organized as topic-contributed sessions: the ASA Data Expo, sponsored by the Knight Foundation and the ASA Statistical Computing and Statistical Graphics sections, and the annual Statistical Significance Poster contest, hosted by the Scientific and Public Affairs Advisory Committee.

The theme for the Data Expo was “Soul of the Community,” and 13 teams presented their results. There was great interest from the audience, and, based on the high quality of the presentations, the judges decided to give one first and three second prizes. Andrea Kaplan and Eric Hare from Iowa State University won first prize for “Putting Down Roots: A Graphical Exploration of Community Attachment.” The winners and a selected set from the other contributions have been invited to contribute to a special issue of Computational Statistics.

The Statistical Significance contest had 16 participants. The judges were all impressed with the high quality of the posters and the statistical significance pieces the authors prepared to describe their posters’ implications for society. Two posters tied for first place: “Meta-Analysis Data Extraction” by Shemra Rizzo of the University of California at Los Angeles and “Identifying and Estimating a Non-Constant Hazard Ratio with Time-Varying Covariates Using Cox Regression Models” by Miranda Kroehl of the Colorado School of Public Health.

Along with many technical sessions, there was a special public lecture to commemorate the 300th anniversary of Ars Conjectandi, “From Gambling to Global Catastrophe: Metaphors and Images for Communicating Numerical Risks.” Many local K–12 statistics and mathematics teachers came to attend this lecture and, again, the ballroom at Hyatt Regency was full. David Spiegelhalter used many intriguing and amusing examples to point out that the art and science of risk communication is an important and daunting task with many subtle nuances.

Each year at the memorial sessions, we pay tribute to members of our profession who are no longer with us. This year, we had memorial sessions honoring George Box, George Casella, Genichi Taguchi, Kesar Singh, and Keith Worsley. These sessions, filled with personal memoirs and technical presentations, showcased the breadth of the work of these stalwarts and the rich legacy they left behind.

Along with new initiatives in the scientific program, this year’s JSM had a few logistical incentives for registrants, two of which were very well received: free wi-fi at the convention center and the headquarter hotels and one free public transportation pass per room for the four furthest conference hotels. We also had electronic signage, increased use of Twitter, and more speaker management kiosks. We appreciate the tireless efforts of the ASA meetings staff for making JSM better each year.

I would like to thank each of you who contributed to JSM 2013. We continually attempt to improve the scientific program and organizational structure. Your support, patience, and understanding are much appreciated. I hope you enjoyed the sessions, roundtables, short courses, mixers, and seeing your friends and colleagues in the beautiful city of Montréal. I also hope you had a chance to experience the spectacular French-Canadian cuisine and culture that makes Québec so delightfully charming. Now it is time to gear up for JSM 2014 in Boston!

Many Honored at Presidential Address, Awards Ceremony





Highlighting the Joint Statistical Meetings in Montréal, Quebec, Canada, was the ASA Presidential Address and Founders and Fellows Recognition, during which the Founders Award winners were announced and 59 new ASA Fellows were officially inducted. Congratulations to all.

President Marie Davidian presented the Founders Award to Xiao-Li Meng, Jeri Metzger Mulrow, and Mary Ellen Bock for “Extended outstanding contributions to the advancement of the ASA, its mission, and the field of statistical science. “It is indeed an honor and personal privilege for me,” said Davidian, “to acknowledge the tireless commitment and dedication of these great leaders by presenting each the 2013 ASA Founders Award.”

The citations for each 2013 Founders Award honoree follow:

Xiao-Li Meng, Harvard University, for many years of dedicated service on the ASA Committee on Meetings, including leadership of the committee during a time of major growth for the Joint Statistical Meetings; for organization of the 2004 JSM; and for highly dedicated frontline service on numerous other ASA committees, working groups, and task forces.

Jeri Metzger Mulrow, National Science Foundation, for outstanding service to the ASA over the past 16 years through her leadership on the ASA Board of Directors, Council of Sections Governing Board, Accredited Professional Statistician Program, Membership Retention and Recruitment Committee, Membership Growth Workgroup, and In-Reach Workgroup.

Mary Ellen Bock, Purdue University, for sustained and effective service to the ASA over many years as ASA vice president, ASA president, chair of the Section on Statistical Computing, chair of the Committee on Fellows, chair of the Nominations Committee, and chair of the Founders Award Committee and for her sustained presence as an extraordinary role model for women in the ASA.

Fifty-nine ASA members received the honor of Fellow in 2013.

Fifty-nine ASA members received the honor of Fellow in 2013.

Each year, ASA Fellows are nominated by the membership and selected by the ASA Committee on Fellows, chaired this year by David DeMets. The number of Fellows named is limited to no more than one-third of 1% of the active ASA member total. The following 59 ASA Fellows were inducted this year:

Keaven M. Anderson, Merck Research Laboratories
Michael Baron, The University of Texas
Scott Berry, Berry Consultants
William A. Brenneman, Procter & Gamble Company
Zongwu Cai, University of Kansas
Patrick J. Cantwell, U.S. Census Bureau
Ralph B. D’Agostino Jr., Wake Forest School of Medicine
Tim Davis, We Predict Ltd.
Elizabeth R. DeLong, Duke University Medical Center
Vladimir Dragalin, Aptiv Solutions
Josée Dupuis, Boston University
Sylvia R. Esterby, University of British Columbia
Christopher R. Genovese, Carnegie Mellon University
William F. Guthrie, National Institute of Standards & Technology
Timothy E. Hanson, University of South Carolina
Jennifer A. Hoeting, Colorado State University
Jianhua Huang, Texas A&M University
Sin-Ho Jung, Duke University
Mel Kollander, Kollander Associates
Youngjo Lee, Seoul National University
Julie Legler, St. Olaf College
Brian G. Leroux, University of Washington
William Li, University of Minnesota
Hua Liang, University of Rochester Medical Center
Stuart Lipsitz, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Qing Liu, Janssen Research and Development, J&J
Yufeng Liu, The University of North Carolina
Richard A. Lockhart, Simon Fraser University
J. Scott Long, Indiana University
W. Y. Wendy Lou, University of Toronto
Thomas E. Love, Case Western Reserve University
Shuangge Ma, Yale School of Public Health
Craig H. Mallinckrodt, Eli Lilly & Company
Madhu Mazumdar, Weill Cornell Medical College
Lisa M. McShane, National Cancer Institute
Fabrizia Mealli, University of Florence
Alfredo Navarro, U.S. Census Bureau
Susan M. Paddock, RAND Corporation
Ruth M. Pfeiffer, National Cancer Institute
Polly Phipps, Bureau of Labor Statistics
Wolfgang Polonik, University of California
Raquel Prado, University of California
Yili Lu Pritchett, Astellas Pharma Global Development, Inc.
Dabeeru C. Rao, Washington University School of Medicine
C. Shane Reese, Brigham Young University
Greg Ridgeway, National Institute of Justice
Maria Matilde Sanchez-Kam, Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Douglas Schaubel, University of Michigan
Ananda Sen, University of Michigan
Janet S. Sinsheimer, University of California at Los Angeles
Dylan S. Small, University of Pennsylvania
Yanqing Sun, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Mahlet G. Tadesse, Georgetown University
Ingrid Van Keilegom, Université catholique de Louvain
Ronghui (Lilly) Xu, University of California
Guosheng Yin, University of Hong Kong
Hao Zhang, Purdue University
Tong Zhang, Rutgers University
Ji Zhu, University of Michigan

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 2013 Wilks award winner is Kanti Mardia of the University of Leeds, United Kingdom, for his extensive work covering a wide span of applied and theoretical research, including seminal results in shape analysis, spatial statistics, multivariate analysis, directional data analysis, and bioinformatics with special applications to geostatistics, image analysis, and protein structure; for the international dissemination of statistical thought and innovative ideas through research publications, presentations, books, monographs, the establishment and running of annual research workshops, and interdisciplinary centers; and for his insightful guidance for future generations of statisticians.

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 2013 is Yingying Fan of the University of Southern California for outstanding early career contributions to nonparametric statistics. The Gottfried E. Noether Senior Scholar Award winner for 2013 is Jayaram Sethuraman of Florida State 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. The 2013 Statistics in Chemistry Award winners are Peter Goos of the University of Antwerp, Belgium and Steven G. Gilmour of the University of Southampton, United Kingdom for their important collaborative work between the disciplines of statistics and chemistry.

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 Robert E. Kass and Ryan C. Kelly of Carnegie Mellon University and Wei-Liem Loh of the National University of Singapore for the development of a powerful class of time-varying loglinear point process models to investigate synchrony between neural spike trains. Their paper, titled “Assessment of Synchrony in Multiple Neural Spike Trains Using Loglinear Point Process Models,” was published in The Annals of Applied Statistics (2011).

W.J. Youden Award in Interlaboratory Testing

The W. J. Youden Award in Interlaboratory Testing 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 2013 Youden Award went to Lane F. Burgette of RAND Corporation and Jerome Reiter of Duke University. Changing measurement procedures during the data-collection process is not unusual, but such procedural modifications do result in less-than-ideal data sets. Burgette and Reiter propose three approaches for handling such scenarios and illustrate their use through an example. In addition, the authors demonstrate, via simulation, the conditions under which each approach is preferred. This allows the authors to recommend a decisionmaking process for practitioners.

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 2013 Waller Award winner is Nathan Tintle of Dordt College in recognition of his outstanding contributions to and innovation in the teaching of elementary statistics.

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 2013 scholarship recipient is Natalie Exner of Harvard University for outstanding academic achievement in survey statistics.

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 2013 award was presented to Ronald D. Snee of Snee Associates, LLC for advancing the science and art of statistical consulting with an outstanding record of leadership in process and organizational improvement in a variety of industries, ground-breaking research in the development of statistical methods, conceptualizing the term “statistical engineering,” and introducing the design of the first company-wide continuous quality improvement initiative.

Gertrude M. Cox Scholarships

Jessica Hwang from Harvard University, Gina-Maria Pomann from North Carolina State University, and Daisy Phillips from The Pennsylvania State University 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. Anu Mishra and Natalie Exner were awarded honorable mentions.

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 2013 Peace award winner is Richard Macey Simon from the National Cancer Institute for contributions that have played a pivotal role in bridging the gap among statistics, clinical research, and translational medicine to improve human health.

Zellner Award

Xin Tong, a former doctoral student at Princeton University, was presented the 2013 Zellner Award as the author of the best PhD thesis that addresses an applied problem in business and economic statistics. Named in honor of the late Arnold Zellner—ASA past president and chair of the ASA’s Business and Economics Statistics Section—the award recognizes outstanding work by promising young researchers in the field of statistical science.

Causality in Statistics Education Award

Felix Elwert, the Vilas Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is the first honoree of the Causality in Statistics Education Award. The award was presented to Elwert for his innovative two-day course developed on causal inference with directed acyclic graphs. The course is offered to graduate-level students and applied quantitative researchers in the nonexperimental social and biomedical sciences. Established by Judea Pearl, the Causality in Statistics Education Award was established to highlight the growing importance of introducing core elements of causal inference into undergraduate and lower-division graduate classes in statistics. Pearl—who is a longtime ASA member, recipient of the 2012 Turing Award, and professor of computer science and statistics at the University of California, Los Angeles—donated $15,000 from his Turing Award prize to fund this award through 2015.

COPSS 50th Anniversary Celebrated at JSM 2013

COPSS junior panelists at JSM 2013 in Montréal

COPSS junior panelists at JSM 2013 in Montréal

Spearheaded by 2012 chair Xihong Lin, the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS) planned numerous activities to commemorate its 50th anniversary in Montréal during JSM 2013.

A number of past COPSS award winners provided their insights during the junior researcher panel, offered to junior faculty members and moderated by Hans Rudolf Künsch of the Seminar für Statistik in Zürich. More than 110 attendees listened to panelists James Berger of Duke University, Tony Cai of the University of Pennsylvania, Xihong Lin of Harvard University, Xiao-Li Meng of Harvard University, Kathryn Roeder of Carnegie Mellon University, and Robert Tibshirani of Stanford University talk about the challenges of beginning a career in academia. Their comments were further enriched by questions from the audience on topics ranging from time management to the competing tasks of research and other responsibilities such as consulting and teaching.

No anniversary is complete with a reception, and COPSS held one that featured Ingram Olkin, who delighted those present with a brief history of the organization. Afterward, current and former COPSS members and award winners enjoyed the opportunity to mingle and celebrate their success.

To complete the celebration, COPSS members are looking forward to the upcoming publication of Past, Present, and Future of Statistical Science, edited by Lin, David L. Banks, Christian Genest, Geert Molenberghs, David W. Scott, and Jane-Ling Wang. This volume contains numerous articles by past COPSS award winners who reflect on their careers; their outlooks; the statistics discipline; and their perspectives on a variety of topics in statistical research, education, and practice. This book, scheduled to be published by CRC Press, also contains a brief history of COPSS by Olkin.

COPSS began in 1963 with founding partner societies the American Statistical Association, Eastern and Western regions of the International Biometric Society, and Institute of Mathematical Statistics. The Statistical Society of Canada came into existence in the 1970s and also joined COPSS.

The past presidents, presidents, and president-elects of the five partner societies are the members of COPSS, plus an appointed chair and secretary. The organization focuses on awards and collaboration with other societies. Over the years, the structure of COPSS has changed to invite other societies, known as “Friends of COPSS,” to the COPSS annual meeting at JSM to promote wider collaboration.

An earlier version captioned a photo of Rebecca Doerge as Mary Ellen Bock. We apologize for the error.

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