New England Statistics Symposium a Success
Scott Evans, 2014 NESS Executive Committee Chair
The 28th annual New England Statistics Symposium (NESS) was hosted by the department of biostatistics at the Harvard School of Public Health April 26. NESS is intended to foster statistics and its applications by promoting research in statistics; provide an educational opportunity for students and others to learn about statistical methods and applications; encourage collaboration and the exchange of ideas among statisticians from academia, industry, and government; and provide a forum to discuss important issues in the statistics profession.
The 2014 NESS had record-breaking attendance, with more than 260 pre-registrants, and a diverse high-quality program consisting of two keynote speakers, three short courses, 12 invited sessions, six contributed sessions, a poster session, and a student paper competition.
Alan Agresti was the first keynote speaker, giving a talk titled “Rising of Academic Statistics and Biostatistics with a Focus on New England,” a fitting topic given the historical significance of this year for the statistics profession (the 175th anniversary of the ASA, which began in Boston in 1839). In addition to his well-known work in categorical data, Agresti is the co-editor of the book Strength in Numbers: The Rising of Academic Statistics Departments in the U.S. and is no stranger to New England (he owns a home in the Boston area and has an appointment as a visiting professor in the Harvard Statistics Department).
The other keynote speaker was L.J. Wei from the Harvard School of Public Health. Wei’s reputation as a world-renowned statistical methodologist is matched only by his reputation for humor and entertaining stories. He discussed moving beyond the comfort zone in practicing translational statistics and offered many compelling observations made throughout his career.
NESS also featured three short courses. John Buonaccorsi of the University of Massachusetts/Amherst offered “Measurement Error and Misclassification,” Cyrus Mehta and Charles Lui of Cytel offered “Adaptive Designs for Confirmatory Trials,” and Han Liu of Princeton University offered “Analysis of Big Data.”
The Program Committee—consisting of Luis Carvalho, Mark Glickman, Fangxin Hong, Nick Horton, Tom Lane, Lingling Li, Mingfei Li, Xihong Lin, Sherri Rose, Sachiko Miyahara, Aleksey Polunchenko, Lihui Zhao, and Cory Zigler—organized 12 invited sessions with diverse themes, including the following:
- Prospective Routine Medical
- Product Safety Surveillance: The FDA Mini-Sentinel System
- New Statistical Methods in Personalized Medicine
- Performance Evaluation and Measurement in Sports
- Statistical Issues in Infectious Disease Research
- Statistics in Oncology Clinical Trials
- Innovations in Statistics Education
- Latest Advances in Sequential Analysis with Applications
- Career Development
- Innovations in Comparative Effectiveness Research
- Business Statistics
- Sequential Statistical Analysis for Large Networks and Big Data
- Statistical Inference for Networks and Stochastic Models
- Bayesian Applications in Genetics
- Applications in High Dimensional Data
- Statistical Methods
- Applications in Genetics
- Applications for Network Data
- Applications in Clinical Data
The Student Paper Competition Committee reviewed approximately 20 student paper submissions and gave four student awards. Elham Azizi of Boston University won for the paper “Learning Modular Structures from Network Data and Node Variables.” Thiago Costa of Harvard University won for the paper “Local Algorithm to Estimate Graphons by Stochastic Blockmodels Approximation.” Peng Ding, also of Harvard University, won for the paper “A Paradox from Randomization-Based Causal Inference.” And Ian Johnston of Boston University won for the paper “Hierarchical Gene-Proximity Models for Genome-Wide Association Studies.” The Student Paper Competition Committee was chaired by Dianne Finkelstein with Nick Horton, John Quackenbush, David Schoenfeld, and Lorenzo Trippa as members.
NESS featured more than 50 contributed abstracts and an interactive poster session. Sachiko Miyahara led the collection of the contributed abstracts and organized the contributed sessions while Elham Azizi, Saran Vardhanabhuti, Ming Yang, Daniel Klein, Ana Ciconelle, and Grace Montepiedra assisted. The poster session highlighted contributed work such as the following:
- Connecting Point Level and Gridded Data in the Analysis of Climate Extremes
- Quantifying the Bias from Preferential Sampling in Air Pollution Studies
- Modeling Recovery Curves with Application to Prostatectomy
- A Predictive Model of Maize Yield in the Midwest United States
- Item Response Theory for Genetic Mapping in Rheumatoid Arthritis
- A Multiresolution Semi-Markov Process Model for Predicting Basketball Possession Outcomes
- The National Effect of Marijuana Legalization
New England features a diverse array of statisticians working to improve the profession and the ability to use data to make decisions. NESS remains an effective vehicle to help bring this group together on an annual basis.