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Annual StatFest Encourages Students

1 December 2016 94 views No Comment

Dionne Price Offers Keynote

    Jesse L. Chittams, Reneé H. Moore, and Nagambal Shah
      Conference participants surround Adrian Coles, a statistical research scientist at Duke Clinical Research Institute, during StatFest.

      Conference participants surround Adrian Coles, a statistical research scientist at Duke Clinical Research Institute, during StatFest.

        On September 24, the ASA Committee on Minorities in Statistics (COM) held the 16th annual StatFest conference. StatFest is a one-day event aimed at encouraging undergraduate students from under-represented groups to consider graduate studies and careers in the statistical sciences.

        In an effort to cover different geographic regions throughout the ASA community, StatFest moves around each year. This year, StatFest was hosted by Howard University in Washington, DC.

        More than 100 participants attended: approximately 7% high-school students; 52% undergraduate students; 14% graduate students; and 27% professionals in academia, government, or industry.

        The program started with a welcome and opening remarks from COM, Howard University’s Bernard Mair, and ASA Executive Director Ron Wasserstein.

        The keynote address was given by Dionne Price of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Through three panel discussions, participants were introduced to diverse statistics careers in government, industry and consulting, and academia. The panelists in the academia session also shared information about their graduate programs and steps one should take to be a strong candidate for graduate school.

        There was a student-only session titled “The Graduate Student Experience” that consisted of panelists who are enrolled in master’s or doctorate programs in the statistical sciences. It was moderated by a recent PhD graduate. During the student-only session, faculty and professionals attended a parallel session in which both success stories and frustrations were shared in regard to attracting and retaining students and promoting diversity in the profession.

        Other highlights included a poster session, with each poster presenter receiving a bag donated by SAS Institute; a networking challenge for which the winners received a T-shirt donated by the ASA; and Nagambal Shah, founder of StatFest, participating in the program.

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