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AAAS + Statistics = U

1 December 2012 One Comment

The work of statisticians should be known and appreciated by the broader scientific community and the public. This challenge motivates one of Marie Davidian’s initiatives as ASA president-elect: to increase the visibility of statisticians and their work.

A special focus is enhancing visibility among other scientists by strengthening the ASA’s ties with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science. The aim is to increase the number of statisticians who are aware of and actively participating in AAAS meetings and programs and to support those activities, highlighting the importance of statisticians to fellow scientists.

Key to this effort is collaboration with the AAAS Section on Statistics (“Section U”), one of 24 AAAS sections representing all areas of science. Section U was founded in December of 1961, and its purposes were outlined by Jerzy Neyman in a 1962 Science article. Among these aims were to establish interdisciplinary connections and to overcome the adverse effects of compartmentalization in scientific research.

Current officers and members of Section U have been working with Davidian and others at the ASA to promote visibility. A major success was the acceptance of the following six invited symposia (sessions) sponsored by Section U, which competed successfully against proposals across all areas of science for inclusion in the program of the AAAS annual meeting, to be held February 14–18, 2013, at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston:

  • The Science of Uncertainty in Genomic Medicine
  • The Benefits of Randomized Experiments for Science and Society
  • Understanding and Communicating Uncertainty in Climate Change Science
  • Spatially Distributed Environmental Factors and Health Effects
  • A Decade After ‘Forensic Science: Oxymoron?’: Will There Be Real Change?
  • Predicting Major Events and Planning for Hazards: An Art or Science?

The annual meeting offers opportunities to learn about major developments in science. Plenary sessions in 2013 include the following:

  • The Robotic Moment: What Do We Forget When We Talk to Machines?
  • The Beauty of the Accelerating Universe
  • Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking
  • The Biology of Aging
AAAS Section U Members
Marie Davidian, North Carolina State University and ASA President-elect
Mitchell H. Gail, National Cancer Institute and Chair of AAAS Section U
Joel B. Greenhouse, Carnegie Mellon University and Past Chair of AAAS Section U
Thomas A. Louis, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Retiring Chair of AAAS Section U
Sally C. Morton, University of Pittsburgh and Chair-elect of AAAS Section U
Jane Pendergast, University of Iowa and Secretary of AAAS Section U

Additionally, there will be free family day exhibits focused on grades 6–12 on February 16–17. Learn more about them at the AAAS website.

By joining AAAS and Section U, statisticians can play an active role in shaping the AAAS meeting program and other section activities. AAAS membership offers numerous benefits, including a subscription to Science; access to resources such as webinars, articles, and tools for communicating science to the public; and opportunities to establish interdisciplinary friendships and collaborations. Membership also sustains the strong advocacy efforts of AAAS for the support of science to government and the public. Members of AAAS for four or more years who have distinguished records of achievement in science are eligible for selection as AAAS fellows.

Finally, Section U has a website, but much can be done to make it more responsive to members’ needs. If you are interested in volunteering, contact Section U secretary, Jane Pendergast, at jane-pendergast@uiowa.edu.

By joining AAAS and Section U, you help increase the influence and visibility of statistics.

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One Comment »

  • Max said:

    I would propose a much better way of getting visibility for the profession:

    Talk to some Hollywood writers and get a movie made that features statisticians prominently and positively. FAR more effective than working with alphabet soup organizations that I’ve never heard of before.