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ASA Commends NSF for Initiative, Commitment to Increasing Statistics Profile

1 October 2012 No Comment

During the August meeting of the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Advisory Committee (MPSAC), National Science Foundation (NSF) Assistant Director Ed Seidel announced in an initiative to “examine funding for statistical sciences research at NSF including organizational alternatives and new initiatives.” He also affirmed the NSF’s “strong commitment to the statistical sciences.”

To demonstrate the commitment, Seidel noted that, whenever appropriate, NSF would specifically mention statistics alongside mathematics in budget requests and form a subgroup of the MPSAC in cooperation with members of other NSF advisory committees and community members.

ASA Executive Director Ron Wasserstein responded by commending the NSF leadership for its commitment to recognizing the statistical sciences and the contributions statisticians are making to NSF’s mission. Wasserstein also said that, “raising the profile of statistics within NSF is an important step for our scientific discipline to fulfill its potential.”

Seidel’s announcement came in response to a proposal last fall to rename the Division of Mathematical Sciences (DSM) to the division of mathematical and statistical sciences. Seidel said the name will stay the same, but noted in his initiative that “the recent vigorous discussions in the relevant communities, with the MPSAC, and within NSF, have led to a better understanding of the critical and expanding role of the statistical sciences.”

A detailed report on the name change—written by a subcommittee of MPSAC—also was presented at the meeting. The report summarizes the comments received from the mathematical and statistical societies and individuals in the science community.

Participating in the meeting by phone, DMS Director Sastry Pantula thanked the committee for the report and said the name change was originally proposed to recognize the distinct discipline of statistics. “I am happy that the process opened worthwhile discussions within the communities,” he said. “I look forward to working with both mathematical and statistical sciences communities to look for collaborative opportunities for future. There is strength in the union, and there is strength in numbers.”

To read Seidel’s memo and the report on the name change, visit the NSF Advisory Committee meeting’s web page. The ASA’s statement can be read on the ASA press release web page. For a detailed report on the meeting, read the blog post written by ASA Science Policy Director Steve Pierson.

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