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1 July 2017 No Comment

John Eltinge

The 2017 recipient of the Roger Herriot Award for Innovation in Federal Statistics is John Eltinge. He is being recognized for his important and extensive contributions to statistical methodology and practice at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and within the federal statistical system.

Specifically, Eltinge has made two fundamental contributions. The first centered on his 17 years of service at BLS, including more than 12 years as the associate commissioner for survey methods research. In that capacity, he led a cadre of talented statisticians and behavioral scientists. Acting upon his vision, that group contributed to significant modernization and improvement of many BLS programs in collaboration with personnel from program offices, statistical methods divisions, and field operations. Examples include work with the Current Employment Statistics Program, Consumer Expenditure Survey, and Occupational Employment Statistics Program.

Additionally, Eltinge chaired an agency-wide team in charge of reducing disclosure risk, and he kept this issue visible and central to BLS leadership. Also, he fostered work by colleagues in his office that led to publication of seminal papers in the Journal of the American Statistical Association, Annals of Applied Statistics, and Journal of Official Statistics. His success in these efforts led to his selection as the assistant director for research and methodology at the U.S. Census Bureau in December 2016.

The second major set of contributions arose from his leadership with interagency, international, and editorial work. Examples included his contributions as the chair of the Subcommittee on Administrative Records of the Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology; work on program committees for workshops on data collection for the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and statistical conferences; and service as an associate editor of the Journal of the American Statistical Association, The American Statistician, Journal of Official Statistics, and Survey Methodology Journal. This work led to his appointment as chair of the Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology from January of 2017 to December of 2018.

The award presentation will be made during the JSM session The New Multiple Data Sources Paradigm for Federal Statistics, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on August 1.

Herriot was the associate commissioner of statistical standards and methodology at the National Center for Education Statistics when he died in 1994. Soon after his death, the ASA Social Statistics and Government Statistics sections, along with the Washington Statistical Society, established the award, which is intended to recognize individuals or teams who, like Herriot, develop unique and innovative approaches to the solution of statistical problems in federal data-collection programs.

More about Herriot’s life can be viewed on the Washington Statistical Society website.

Sarah Tan

    Submitted by Kevin Konty
      Sara Tan

      Sara Tan

        Sarah Tan, a doctoral student in the statistics department at Cornell University, is the winner of the 2017 Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship.

        Tan graduated with a bachelor’s degree in statistics and economics from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in statistics from Columbia University. She is a fourth-year PhD student in statistics at Cornell University. She was also a 2014 Data Science for Social Good Fellow and has spent summers at Xerox Research and Microsoft Research.

        Tan’s interests lie at the intersection of statistics and machine learning. She is particularly interested in public policy applications, especially government statistics where causal inference is needed for impact evaluation and policy planning. She is also interested in how government data from various scales—federal, local, and across agencies—can be synthesized to obtain better estimates Tan has worked on several research projects with New York City (NYC) agencies, including implementing a Bayesian evidence synthesis framework to estimate hepatitis prevalence. This effort brought together information from a variety of sources that had been analyzed separately. Tan has also worked with the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation, analyzing hospital readmissions and providing feedback to hospital administrators.

        For her dissertation, Tan is developing methods for causal inference using observational data, including new balancing scores based on tree ensembles for complicated treatment selection processes, and ways to incorporate the uncertainty of the treatment selection model into the outcome model. She will work with the NYC Office of School Health to apply these methods to the potential effects of later school start times. Tan plans to use the Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship to support this project, including transportation costs to New York City and future conferences.

        Daniel F. Heitjan

          Daniel Heitjan

          Daniel Heitjan

            At the 2017 Conference of Texas Statisticians, the San Antonio Chapter recognized the 2017 Don Owen Award winner, Daniel F. Heitjan of the department of statistical science at Southern Methodist University (SMU) and department of clinical sciences at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UTSW).

            Heitjan is an expert in statistical methods for incomplete data, clinical trials, and health economics. He has engaged in substantial collaborative and methods research in oncology, cardiovascular medicine, and smoking cessation; published roughly 200 journal articles in statistics and medicine; and given more than 150 invited talks. He has also provided statistical consultation to the pharmaceutical and finance industries.

            Heitjan has taught various biostatistics courses and directed biostatistics graduate programs at the University of Pennsylvania and SMU/UTSW. His 16 doctoral trainees have gone on to careers in academia, industry, and government.

            Additionally, Heitjan has served on numerous scientific review committees for the National Institutes of Health and Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. He has also served as an associate editor of leading statistical and scientific journals, including the Journal of the American Statistical Association, Statistics in Medicine, Clinical Trials, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, and Annals of Applied Statistics) and is currently senior statistical editor of Circulation, the flagship journal of the American Heart Association. His involvement in professional activities in statistics includes serving as program chair of the 2005 Joint Statistical Meetings, chair of the ASA Biometrics Section (2009), and president of the Eastern North American Region of the International Biometric Society (2013).  He is a fellow of the ASA (1997), IMS (2012), and Society for Clinical Trials (2017)—only the third person in history to be elected fellow in all three societies.

            Heitjan accepted the award and gave a biographical presentation in which he expressed his gratitude his family and to mentors Donald B. Rubin of Harvard University, J. Richard Landis of the University of Pennsylvania, and the late Paul Meier.

            Marie Davidian

              From left: Amita Manatunga, Marie Davidian, Donna Brogan, and Lance Waller 

              From left: Amita Manatunga, Marie Davidian, Donna Brogan, and Lance Waller

                Professionals and students from Emory University, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the larger Atlanta area gathered at the Rollins School of Public Health (RSPH) April 10 to hear Marie Davidian present the 2017 Donna J. Brogan Annual Lecture. The title of her talk was “The Right Treatment for the Right Patient (at the Right Time): Precision Medicine Through Treatment Regimes and SMARTs (i.e., Sequential Multiple Assignment Randomized Trials).”

                Davidian explained the statistical model and estimation procedure for a randomized trial that recognizes common physician behavior in treating chronic diseases such as cancer, depression, and addiction. That is, if the first treatment (A) works, then continue with A or perhaps change to treatment B. If A does not work, then try treatment C. There may be additional sequential treatments depending on responses to previous treatments, and the model also incorporates patient characteristics at baseline and during treatment.

                Davidian is William Neal Reynolds Professor of Statistics at North Carolina State University. She is a respected and acclaimed academic statistician who has received numerous professional awards that recognize her research, teaching, service, and leadership contributions.

                Donna Brogan is professor emerita of biostatistics at RSPH. Following her 2004 retirement from Emory, she and her colleagues, friends, and family funded the annual lecture in biostatistics to honor her career. Twelve lectures have been presented to date, including a presentation by Brogan in 2015 about current challenges and future directions of sample survey methodology.

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