JSM 2016: The Extraordinary Power of Statistics
Jeffrey S. Morris, JSM 2016 Program Chair
The Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM) is always a special occasion, giving opportunities for so many within the broad scope of our profession to come together and share scientific ideas, network, and catch up with old friends. This year’s meeting took place in Chicago, Illinois, a beautiful location with lots to see and do. Our incredible venues included the enormous McCormick Place and beautiful, historical Hilton Chicago, with its ornate ballrooms for special lectures and social events.
The meeting was a success! We set an all-time record with more than 7,200 attendees, far above the previous record of 6,851 set last year. The theme was “The Extraordinary Power of Statistics,” which emphasizes that our discipline has extraordinary power to extract relevant information and inform decisions based on collected data and its further development has the potential to greatly affect all aspects of our society, including government, education, health care, marketing, business, finance, and even entertainment.
Members of the program committee worked hard to assemble an outstanding program, consisting of 709 sessions covering a breadth of topics from all areas of statistics and society. We had record participation, with 3,724 total abstracts, numbers made possible by the growing number of posters (636 posters) and speed sessions (274 presenters).
Because of room limitations, JSM is always limited in the number of oral presentations that can be accommodated, and the expansion of the speed sessions since they were introduced in 2013 has enabled more participants to contribute to the meeting. We increased the number of speed session presentations by 50% this year, and given the positive feedback we have received, hope this creative and effective medium will continue to grow.
WATCH: Plenary session webcasts
This year’s introductory overview lectures were given to packed rooms and introduced important and emerging fields of statistics, including spatio-temporal statistics by Chris Wikle, causal inference by Judea Pearl, adaptive clinical trial designs by Scott Berry, and data science by Philip Yu and Michael Jordan.
The invited poster session “The Extraordinary Power of Data,” organized by poster chair Genevera Allen during the opening mixer, presented a diverse set of innovative and thought-provoking work by researchers in academia and industry.
We had two interesting late-breaking sessions, one on evidence-based policymaking and another on data journalism and statistical expertise. They both addressed how our statistical principles can have a greater societal impact and improve best practices in these two important fields.
Each year, we have a number of memorial sessions to pay tribute to members of our community who have passed away in the previous year. This year’s memorial sessions commemorated Bruce Lindsay, Janet Norwood, Ramanathan Gnanadesikan, and Peter Hall. These sessions included scientific presentations and personal memoirs celebrating their lives; showcasing the work they have done; and highlighting the impact they have had on the profession, the broader society, and others.
We had a number of named lectures, including Medallion lectures by Nanny Wermuth and Gerda Claeskens, the ASA Deming Lecture by Vincent P. Barabba, the COPSS Fisher Lecture by Alice Whittemore, and the ASA President’s Address by Jessica Utts. Joe Palca from NPR gave the ASA President’s Invited Address, “Science and News: A Marriage of Convenience,” and discussed how the incremental nature of science and desire of media to seemingly hype every new result as a breakthrough leads to problems. He proposed an alternative model for presenting science in the news media.
It was truly a joy for me to serve as the program chair for these meetings, as their planning was a great team effort with so many contributors. I thank the program committee members, who worked as a team and were diligent and thoughtful in their work to put together the best possible program that reflected the excellence and diversity of our field. I also thank the ASA meetings staff—including Naomi Friedman, Kathleen Wert, Christina Link, and Amanda Conageski—who are a pleasure to work with and do a great job of keeping us all on task. I thank Xuming He and the rest of the ASA Committee on Meetings members for their ideas and support of new ideas to improve the meetings each year. I also thank the previous program chairs—including Annie Qu, Jean Opsomer, Bhramar Mukherjee, and Stephen MacEachern—for their support and help. Special thanks to my two associate program chairs, Veera Baladandayuthapani and Scott Holan, and poster chair, Genevera Allen, for helping me in so many ways and providing valuable alternative perspectives to the decision making.
Finally, thank you to all of you in the broader statistical community. Your participation, whether organizing sessions or giving presentations, really made JSM a success. I strongly encourage you all to stay active and participate by organizing sessions for next year!
We are adapting the 2017 invited session proposal procedure so you can choose three potential sponsors for your session. We hope this will provide more exposure for each proposed session and contribute to making the program as strong as possible!
For those who were unable to attend or missed some of the activities, here are a few photos and highlights:
A special feature of the Joint Statistical Meetings is the ASA President’s Address and Founders and Fellows Recognition, during which the Founders Award winners are announced and new ASA Fellows are inducted. Congratulations to all.
“The ASA is extremely pleased to present our highest honor to John, Rod, Jim, and Maura,” said ASA President Jessica Utts. “They have worked selflessly to advance the field of statistics and demonstrated impressively high standards that have helped strengthen the experiences of colleagues throughout the association’s membership. Citations for each 2016 Founders Award honoree follow:
John L. Czajka is recognized for outstanding leadership and contributions in small area estimation, policy analysis, and the evaluation of estimates obtained from survey data; for long-term active involvement in ASA chapters, sections, and committees, including serving as president of the Washington Statistical Society, serving twice as chair of the Government Statistics Section, as chair of the Survey Research Methods Section, and as chair of the Council of Sections Governing Board, as well as serving on a wide variety of committees, including the Nominations, JSM Program, and Sirken Award committees; and for exceptional service and leadership in a wide variety of professional and government-related scientific activities.
Roderick Little is recognized for exemplary leadership in the discipline and its interfaces with government statistics; for representing the discipline on numerous National Research Council and other influential committees; for sustained efforts to improve the quality and analysis of U.S. federal statistics, especially in the decennial census, for example, by addressing the undercount; for significant editorial work, including service as the editor of the Journal of the American Statistical Association and the Journal of Survey Statistics and Methodology, numerous guest and associate editorships, and as the publications representative on the ASA Board of Directors; and for service to multiple ASA sections and committees.
James L. Rosenberger is recognized for career-long support of and involvement in the ASA; for leadership of the JCGS Management Committee; for extensive participation in the Statistical Computing Section; for leadership through task forces to improve ASA publications and enhance connections with the NSF; for many contributions serving on the Statistical Partnerships Among Academe, Industry, and Government Committee, the Caucus of Academic Representatives, and the Scientific and Public Affairs Advisory Committee; and for his wise counsel and guidance to the ASA Board while serving as vice president.
Maura E. Stokes is recognized for sustained, thoughtful contributions to the expansion of professional development opportunities for practicing statisticians; for outstanding leadership in the development of the Conference on Statistical Practice, which extends the reach of ASA to nonstatisticians as well as statisticians; for commitment to enhancing the relevance of ASA to applied statisticians as evidenced by her leadership in the creation of ASA’s professional development guidelines; for insightful teaching of LearnSTAT and JSM short courses; and for continued mentoring at the local and national levels.
Each year, ASA Fellows are nominated by the membership and selected by the ASA Committee on Fellows. This year’s Fellows come from academia, government, business and research organizations spanning 22 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, as well as Canada, Switzerland and Taiwan.
The 65 new ASA Fellows are:
- Alexander Aue
- Peter Austin
- Veerabhadran Baladandayuthapani
- Anirban Basu
- Paul C. Beatty
- Scarlett L. Bellamy
- Christopher R. Bilder
- Jonaki Bose
- Karl W. Broman
- Peter Bühlmann
- Wenyaw Chan
- Cathy Woan-Shu Chen
- Cong Chen
- Ding-Geng Chen
- Joshua (Yonghua) Chen
- Francesca Chiaromonte
- William F. Christensen
- Haitao Chu
- Christopher S. Coffey
- Peter F. Craigmile
- Jeffrey D. Dawson
- Wayne Stuart DeSarbo
- Ruth Etzioni
- Robert Gentleman
- Madhumita Ghosh Dastidar
- Daniel L. Gillen
- Jan Hannig
- Murali Haran
- Rachel M. Harter
- David Haziza
- Hsin-Cheng Huang
- Yijian Huang
- Terry Hyslop
- Tim Jacobbe
- Barry W. Johnson
- Galin Jones
- Barry P. Katz
- Elizabeth J. Kelly
- Ruth Ann Killion
- Liza Levina
- Martin A. Lindquist
- Qi Long
- Theodore C. Lystig
- Charles F. Manski
- Joel Edmund Michalek
- Renee Miller
- Hon Keung Tony Ng
- Hernando Ombao
- Van L. Parsons
- Limin Peng
- Gene Pennello
- Luis Raul Pericchi Guerra
- Karen Lynn Price
- Naomi B. Robbins
- Ingo Ruczinski
- V. A. Samaranayake
- Juned Siddique
- Michael D. Sinclair
- John Staudenmayer
- Rochelle E. Tractenberg
- Yuanjia Wang
- H. Amy Xia, Amgen, Inc.
- Xiaonan Xue
- Ann Graham Zauber
- Chunming Zhang
Many more people were honored for their contributions to various causes that advance the field of statistics. Following is a list of some of the awards and recipients:
Samuel S. Wilks Memorial Award
The Wilks Memorial Award honors the memory and distinguished career of Sam Wilks by recognizing outstanding contributions to statisticians who carry on the spirit of his work. The 2016 honoree is David Donoho of Stanford University. Donoho is recognized for his contributions to statistics, mathematics, signal processing, information theory, and reproducible research, including his innovations in statistical theory, multiscale analysis, and compressed sensing, which have had wide influence across science and engineering.
Gottfried E. Noether Awards
The Noether awards were named after the late Gottfried Emanuel Noether, professor at the University of Connecticut, as a tribute to his memory. The Senior Scholar Award recognizes a distinguished researcher or teacher who supports research in nonparametric statistics. The Young Researcher Award is presented to an accomplished young researcher to promote research and teaching in nonparametric statistics.
- The 2016 Senior Scholar Award honoree is Jane-Ling Wang of the University of California, Davis, who was recognized for her outstanding contributions to the theory, applications, and teaching of nonparametric statistics.
- The 2016 Young Researcher Award honoree is Han Liu, assistant professor of operations research and financial engineering at Princeton University. Liu was honored for his outstanding early-career contributions to nonparametric statistics.
Outstanding Statistical Application Award
Each year, the ASA recognizes the author(s) of a paper that is an outstanding application of statistics in the physical, biological, or medical sciences. The 2016 honorees are Edoardo M. Airoldi and Jonathan M. Bischof of Harvard University. They were recognized for their novel development of a scalable topic modeling framework to summarize a massive corpus of D documents in terms of K latent topics (mixture components) using, as one example, The New York Times corpus of more than 1.8 million documents with more than 2 billion word counts. Their paper, titled “A Regularization Scheme on Word Occurrence Rates That Improves Estimation and Interpretation of Topical Content,” was published in the Journal of the American Statistical Association in 2015.
W.J. Dixon Award for Excellence in Statistical Consulting
Established through a gift from the family of Wilfrid J. Dixon, this award recognizes outstanding contributions to the practice of statistical consulting. The 2016 honoree is George A. Milliken of Kansas State University. Milliken was recognized for exceptional contributions in the areas of linear and nonlinear models, design of experiments, mixed and multilevel models, data analysis, statistical genetics, and biostatistics and for the publication of more than 200 peer-reviewed conference papers and technical reports and five widely respected and well-known books.
Jackie Dietz Best Journal of Statistics Education Paper Award
This award, established in 2011, is given annually to the best paper in the Journal of Statistics Education in the previous year. It is named after the founding editor of the journal. The 2016 honorees are Ellen Gundlach, Chantal Levesque-Bristol, and David Nelson—all of Purdue University—and K. Andrew R. Richards of the University of Alabama for their paper, “A Comparison of Student Attitudes, Statistical Reasoning, Performance, and Perceptions for Web-Augmented Traditional, Fully Online, and Flipped Sections of a Statistical Literacy Class.”
The Waller Distinguished Teaching Career and Waller Education awards were established with a contribution from retired ASA Executive Director Ray Waller and his wife, Carolyn. The former recognizes an individual for sustained excellence in teaching and statistics education, and the latter honors an individual for innovation in the instruction of elementary statistics.
- The Waller Distinguished Teaching Career Award honoree is Allan J. Rossman of Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo.
- The Waller Education Award honoree is Mine Çetinkaya-Rundel of Duke University.
Karl E. Peace Award for Outstanding Statistical Contributions for the Betterment of Society
The Karl E. Peace award is bestowed upon a distinguished individual who has made substantial contributions to the statistical profession that have led to direct ways to improve the human condition. The 2016 honorees are Gary M. Shapiro of Statistics without Borders (SWB) and Ronald Brookmeyer of the University of California, Los Angeles.
Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship
The ASA’s Government Statistics Section and Social Statistics Section present this scholarship annually in memory of Wray Jackson Smith, a founding member of the Government Statistics Section and longtime contributor to federal statistics. It rewards promising young statisticians for their diligence and encourages them to consider a future in government statistics. This year’s scholarship honoree is Maria Cuellar of Carnegie Mellon University.
Statistics in Physical Engineering Sciences Award
Established in 1990, this award recognizes outstanding collaborative endeavors between statisticians and scientists throughout the physical and engineering sciences. The honoree is Dennis K.J. Lin of Penn State University, who was recognized for his joint work on “Mixture Design and Analysis of Computer Experiments for Refinery Reactor Optimization” with the Industrial Statistics Group in Sasol Group Technology.
Harry V. Roberts Statistical Advocate of the Year Award
In 2002, the Chicago Chapter established this award in honor of Harry V. Roberts, an exemplar of statistical advocacy. The award recognizes the accomplishments and contributions of those who have successfully advocated appropriate and effective uses of statistics and data-analytic approaches in business and the public sector. The 2016 honoree is Davina P. Durgana of the School for International Training Graduate Institute. Durgana was recognized for her work in creating and promoting the Human Vulnerability Diagnostic Tool (HVDT) and bringing the concept and practice of Big Data analytics to the fields of human rights advocacy and social justice.
Edward C. Bryant Scholarship
Established by Westat to honor its co-founder, this scholarship is awarded to outstanding graduate students in survey statistics to help support their graduate education. The 2016 scholarship recipient is Judith N. Law of the University of Maryland.
Sirken Award in Interdisciplinary Survey Methods Research
Monroe G. Sirken created an endowment to recognize a distinguished researcher for contributions to interdisciplinary survey research that improve the theory and methods of collecting, verifying, processing, presenting, or analyzing survey data. The 2016 honoree is Eleanor Singer of the University of Michigan. Singer was recognized for significant contributions to the understanding of survey participation, sources of nonresponse bias, and factors affecting survey responses.
The ASA Mentoring Award is given each year to members who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to providing significant early-career support to statistics students, statisticians, or statistical researchers. The award honors those recognized by their colleagues for their sustained efforts to champion the work and develop the careers of statisticians. The 2016 ASA Mentoring Award honorees are Fritz J. Scheuren of NORC at the University of Chicago—who was recognized for his career-long superior mentoring, tireless encouragement, generosity of time and knowledge, and positive influence on generations of statisticians and nonstatisticians alike—and Douglas A. Zahn of Florida State University—who was recognized for his 40+ years of exceptional commitment to and passion for mentoring statisticians in teaching, consulting, and collaboration; engaging students to recognize the extraordinary power of statistics in their own lives; and helping countless clients transform statistics from a stumbling block to a stepping stone for social good.
Be sure to check the section and chapter announcements for additional award honorees. Also, visit the ASA’s list of awards and scholarships to nominate a member you would like to see honored for their work at next year’s JSM in Baltimore, Maryland.