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Opportunities Await Applied Statisticians at JSM

1 July 2017 152 views No Comment
This column is written for statisticians with master’s degrees and highlights areas of employment that will benefit statisticians at the master’s level. Comments and suggestions should be sent to Megan Murphy, Amstat News managing editor, at megan@amstat.org.

Contributing Editor
Sameera Wijayawardana holds a PhD in biostatistics from Emory University. For six years, he has worked as a statistician at Eli Lilly and Company, supporting the development of targeted cancer therapeutics and companion diagnostics. He has also been active with the ASA and other international statistical professional associations.

 

As a recently appointed member of the ASA Committee on Applied Statisticians (CAS), I’m delighted to have this opportunity to talk to you about this year’s Joint Statistical Meetings. JSM, as the largest gathering of statisticians held in North America, offers a unique opportunity for statisticians in academia, industry, and government to exchange ideas and explore opportunities for collaboration. This year, JSM will take place in Baltimore, Maryland, from July 29 to August 3. The theme is “Statistics: It’s Essential,” meant to emphasize the fundamental importance of statistics to all aspects of scientific and societal endeavors, and even to seemingly mundane daily life. It is certainly a timely theme when we consider how much the ‘news’ we are exposed to seems to rely on misrepresentations of quantitative evidence that would not stand up to even a rudimentary application of statistical reasoning.

This year’s JSM program, as is normally the case, consists of many technical sessions on a variety of topics. When you add in all the roundtable discussions, business meetings, professional development courses and workshops, award ceremonies, and other social events on the program, sifting through it all can seem daunting. The best place to start this process is with the JSM online program, where you can use the Advanced Search option to search by day, event type, and event sponsor.

For example, being a member of the biopharmaceutical section and of CAS, I tend to look for sessions sponsored by those two groups first. In my experience, a good way to whittle the program to a manageable size is to figure out the top three events you want to attend each day. Once you have budgeted time for these top events, you can start filling in the gaps in your schedule with a mix of technical sessions and other meetings and activities. I also use the My Program option to add events I want to attend to a customized list that I can download as a .csv file.

When you’re searching through the program, note that a ‘*’ preceding a session name means the session is designated as an “applied” session. A ‘!’ preceding a session name means the session reflects this year’s meeting theme.

In addition to technical sessions, there are a number of professional development offerings worth considering. These are mostly additional-fee events, but they offer tremendous value if you are interested in staying up to date in a technical area or want to learn something new to add to your repertoire.

The introductory overview lectures are good to catch if you want to learn about a new area, albeit at a basic level. I am particularly interested in going to the “Computer Age Statistical Inference” lecture that will be given by professors Brad Efron and Trevor Hastie on Monday.

The various awards and recognition ceremonies sprinkled throughout the meeting offer an excellent opportunity to mingle with distinguished members of our profession and to hear their thoughts about current opportunities and challenges. Of note is ASA President Barry Nussbaum’s talk, “Statistics: Essential Now More Than Ever (Or, Why Uber Should Be in the Driver’s Seat for Cars, Not for Data Analysis)” during the ASA President’s Address and Founders & Fellows Recognition Tuesday night.

The A.M. and P.M. roundtables are a great way to share ideas with people working on similar areas or issues of interest. And the JSM Opening Mixer on Sunday night and Dance Party (a fun highlight of JSM) on Tuesday night are excellent venues for unwinding and mingling with fellow attendees.

JSM also provides numerous ways to contribute to our profession by volunteering for sections, chapters, and ASA initiatives. You can learn more about these by attending the relevant section/chapter meetings in the evenings. For example, if you want to learn more about CAS, you are welcome to come to the friends of CAS social mixer Tuesday from 3–4 p.m. in the Hilton – Poe B.

With the wealth of technical sessions, networking opportunities, and social events offered this year, I think we are going to have a great JSM in Baltimore. I’m eager to get there in July, and I look forward to seeing all of you there as well!

Opportunities for Applied Statisticians at JSM

CC=Baltimore Convention Center
H=Hilton Baltimore Hotel (401 West Pratt Street)

Note: View the online program for up-to-date times and locations.

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