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People News for July 2014

1 July 2014 309 views No Comment

Sujit Ghosh, Thomas Witelski, and Pierre Gremaud

The Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute (SAMSI) is pleased to announce the appointments of three new members of the directorate.

Sujit Ghosh

Sujit Ghosh

Sujit Ghosh, professor of statistics at North Carolina State University (NCSU) and program director in the National Science Foundation Division of Mathematical Sciences, will become deputy director of SAMSI beginning September 8. Ghosh’s research interests are in Bayesian statistical methods for analyzing biomedical, econometrics, and environmental models. He previously participated in several SAMSI programs, including as faculty fellow representing NCSU in the 2011/12 program on uncertainty quantification.

Ghosh earned his PhD in statistics from the University of Connecticut in 1996 and is actively involved in teaching, supervising, and mentoring graduate students at the doctoral and master’s levels. He has supervised more than 30 doctoral graduate students and three postdoctoral fellows. He also served as a statistical investigator and consultant for more than 40 research projects funded by leading private industries and federal agencies.

In addition to his time at NCSU, Ghosh has been a visiting professor at Thammasat University in Thailand, Bocconi University in Italy, Middle East Technical University in Turkey, Technical University of Crete in Greece, and National University in Singapore. He is a Fellow of the American Statistical Association and the recipient of the 2008 International Indian Statistical Association Young Investigator Award. He also was elected president of the ASA’s North Carolina Chapter in 2013 and served as the co-director of graduate programs in statistics at NCSU, managing more than 150 students annually from 2010–2013, and project director for a training program for undergraduates funded by the NSF from 2007–2013.

“Sujit brings to SAMSI a mature understanding of SAMSI’s research mission, as well as administrative and grant management experience that will be invaluable as we plan for our next funding cycle,” noted Richard Smith, director of SAMSI.

Thomas Witelski

Thomas Witelski

Thomas Witelski, professor of mathematics at Duke University who specializes in nonlinear partial differential equations and fluid dynamics, will become associate director of SAMSI for a three-year term beginning July 1. His expertise will be valuable on the applied mathematics side of SAMSI’s activities, and he will act as SAMSI’s liaison with Duke University during this period.

Witelski earned his PhD in applied mathematics from California Institute of Technology in 1995. Before working at Duke, he was an NSF postdoctoral fellow and an applied mathematics instructor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is a member of the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics, American Mathematical Society, and Tau Beta Pi. He also is co-editor of the Journal of Engineering Mathematics and division editor of the Journal of Mathematical Analysis and Applications. Additionally, he serves on the editorial board for the European Journal of Applied Mathematics and Discrete and Continuous Dynamical Systems Series B.

Ghosh and Witelski will replace Snehalata Huzurbazar from the University of Wyoming and Ezra Miller from Duke University.

To fill the gap between Huzurbazar and Ghosh, SAMSI will welcome back Pierre Gremaud, professor of mathematics at NCSU, as interim deputy director for July and August. Gremaud will be primarily responsible for the education and outreach side of SAMSI’s activities. He previously served as associate director of SAMSI from July 2008 through December 2009 and as deputy director from January 2009 through June 2012.

Julia Ingrid Lane

Julia Ingrid Lane, senior managing economist and institute fellow at the American Institutes for Research (AIR), was selected recently to receive the 2014 Julius Shiskin Memorial Award for Economic Statistics. The award recognizes unusually original and important contributions to the development of economic statistics or in the use of statistics to interpret the economy. Lane is recognized for her contributions to the development of a new U.S. Census Bureau program that has significantly advanced research on employment dynamics.

Lane initiated the Longitudinal Employer Household Dynamics (LEHD) program to fill a major gap in the information on employment dynamics. Although researchers had information about how much employment had changed in a given time period, they could not determine how many new jobs had been created (job creations) or how many jobs had been lost (job destructions). Similarly, they did not know the number of employees who left their jobs between one period and the next (separations), or the number who acquired new jobs in that period (hires). The Census Bureau tried to provide information on the gross flows by integrating its business and household data, but had made only limited progress—and collecting the information by a survey would have been too costly.

Her proposal was to create a linked employer-employee data set for the United States by obtaining access from states to their UI wage records, because they include both the firm’s identification number and the employee’s Social Security number and cover almost all employees. This information would be used to link these records to each other and then to Census Bureau records. Lane’s linked data set would provide information about jobs at minimal cost and with no increase in respondent burden. For the first time, information would be available for detailed industries and small geographic areas and provide businesses, researchers, and policymakers at all levels of government with information about how the economy is functioning. In fact, these groups have extensively used the LEHD to study the underlying employment dynamics of the U.S. economy and other topics.

Converting the proposal into a permanent Census Bureau program would not be easy. Lane first had to demonstrate the need for a linked data set. She raised the funds for, and organized, a two-day international symposium on linked employer-employee data in May 1998. More than 200 researchers from 20 countries participated and the presentations convinced the senior staff of the Census Bureau that they should continue supporting Lane’s concept. In 1999, they named her a senior research fellow.

Working with John Abowd of Cornell University and John Haltiwanger, Lane sought outside funding to supplement the resources available from the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. She was successful in obtaining grants and contracts from the National Institute on Aging, NSF, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Department of Health and Human Services, Russell Sage Foundation, and Eurostat. Of particular importance was that the Census Bureau also provided funds to allow John Abowd to join the project to deal with the difficult technical issues related to the LEHD.

Next, she had to persuade states to provide the Census Bureau with their UI records. Lane personally met with the state labor market information agencies, governors’ offices, and the state work force investment boards to convince them to be partners on the project, explaining how their state would gain as a partner with the Census Bureau. She worked with the states to resolve the legal obstacles they encountered when seeking permission to provide their UI wage records to the Census Bureau. By 2004, Lane had convinced more than 25 states to collaborate with the Census Bureau.

Once these data became available to the Census Bureau, it was necessary to develop methodologies to validate the linking of the employee and employer state UI records and then link those records to Census Bureau business records. Abowd, working with Lane and a team of LEHD researchers, provided the specifications for editing, linking, and imputing missing items in the UI records, and Haltiwanger assisted in the linking to the Census Bureau’s records. Abowd’s work also included the development of statistical matching techniques to associate employees with their place of work and to make identifiers longitudinally consistent. He also developed disclosure avoidance techniques that would allow the Census Bureau to release the detailed data in the LEHD without compromising the confidentiality of individuals and firms. His proposal, developed with assistance of the LEHD team, would use the idea of “adding noise” to protect the confidentiality of the records—a technique that had been proposed some years earlier.

The linked LEHD data set designed by Lane also was to be used as the basis for producing two other reports. The Quarterly Workforce Indicators (QWI) reports, released in 2003, include data on firms’ total employment and change in employment, average monthly earnings, average monthly earnings for new hires, and characteristics of firms and their employees. The OnTheMap program, released in 2006, is an online mapping and reporting application that shows where people work and where workers live based on annual worker origin and destination data and QWI data files. The majority of LEHD data starts in the 1990s and continues to this day.

Lane became a senior managing economist and institute fellow at AIR in 2010. She holds several honorary positions and received the Vladimir Chavrid Award of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies in 2004. She was named a Fellow of the American Statistical Association in 2009.

Lane is the 42nd recipient of the award; she will be honored at events hosted by the Washington Statistical Society, National Association for Business Economics, and the Business and Economics Section of the American Statistical Association.

Jerome (Jerry) P. Reiter

The Washington Statistical Society (WSS) and RTI International are pleased to announce that Jerome (Jerry) P. Reiter, Mrs. Alexander Hehmeyer Professor of Statistical Science at Duke University, has been chosen as this year’s recipient of the Gertrude M. Cox Award. Since earning his PhD from Harvard University in 1999, Reiter has made many noteworthy contributions to survey methodology—specifically data confidentiality, Bayesian approaches, and multiple imputation—all contributing to new insights in the field.

Reiter gave a seminar titled “Sharing Confidential Data in an Era with No Privacy” June 24 at the RTI International offices in Washington, DC, and was formally awarded at the WSS annual dinner held later the same day.

The award, established in 2003 through a joint agreement between WSS and RTI International, recognizes statisticians in early to mid-career who have made significant contributions to statistical practice. The award is in memory of Gertrude M. Cox (1900–1978), who, in the 1950s, played a key role in establishing mathematical statistics and biostatistics departments at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a statistical division at the then newly founded RTI International.

This award is made possible by funding from RTI International. The recipient is chosen by a six-person committee—three each from RTI International and WSS. The award consists of a $1,000 honorarium, travel expenses to attend the WSS dinner, and a WSS plaque.

William F. Rosenberger

On May 7, the George Mason University (GMU) Board of Visitors approved the appointment of William F. Rosenberger, chair of the department of statistics, as a university professor with the following citation:

William F. Rosenberger, Volgenau School of Engineering, whose theoretical contributions to statistics are in the areas of experimental design and sequential analysis; he has been recognized locally, nationally, and internationally for his research and scholarship.

As printed in GMU’s faculty handbook: “From time to time, the university will encounter opportunities to recognize current members of the faculty or appoint to its faculty women and men of great national or international reputation. The rank of university professor is reserved for such eminent individuals.”

Erica Goodrich and Nathaniel Stevens

The Quality and Productivity Section recently awarded two Mary G. and Joseph Natrella scholarships at the 2014 Joint Research Conference on Statistics in Quality, Industry, and Technology, which was held June 24–26 in Seattle, Washington. Each Natrella scholarship recipient gave a research presentation at the conference and received a $3,500 scholarship, plus $500 for travel expenses and complimentary registration for the conference and pre-conference short course.

Erica Goodrich

Erica Goodrich

Nathaniel Stevens

Nathaniel Stevens

The recipients for 2014 are Erica Goodrich, an MS candidate in the biostatistics program at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, and Nathaniel Stevens, a PhD candidate in the department of statistics and actuarial sciences at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

Goodrich was recommended for the award by Robert Downer and Jason Gillikin of Priority Health. Her presentation at the conference was titled “Exploration of Repeated Measures Logistic Regression for Medication Adherence.”

Stevens was recommended for the award by Stefan Steiner and Jock MacKay. The title of his presentation was “Design and Analysis of Measurement System Comparison Studies.”

The winners were chosen for their outstanding teaching, community service, mentoring, leadership, scholarship, and commit¬ment to the pursuit of quality improvement through the use of statistical methods.

Emery N. Brown, Emmanuel J. Candès, Judea Pearl, and Bin Yu

Four ASA members recently were elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), a private, nonprofit institution established by congressional charter. NAS recognizes achievement in science by election to membership and—with other organizations—provides science, technology, and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations. ASA members honored include Emery N. Brown of Massachusetts General Hospital, Emmanuel J. Candès of Stanford University, Judea Pearl of the University of California, Los Angeles (emeritus), and Bin Yu of the University of California, Berkeley.

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