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Biometrics Section Invites Submissions for Early-Career Paper Awards

1 December 2021 No Comment

The ASA Biometrics Section invites biometric methodology and biometric practice paper submissions for early-career paper awards. Papers in methodology should propose novel statistical methodology addressing a problem relevant to the biosciences. Applications in biometric practice should demonstrate innovative applications of an existing method in a novel context, re-examine statistical practices from a new perspective, or propose innovative and practical data analysis strategies.

Travel awards in the amount of $1,000 will be awarded to the most outstanding papers in each category to help cover expenses for the 2022 Joint Statistical Meetings.

The best overall paper will be awarded the David P. Byar Early Career Award, which commemorates the late David Byar, a biostatistician who made significant contributions to the development and application of statistical methods and was esteemed as an exceptional mentor during his career at the National Cancer Institute. The winner will receive a $2,000 award.

All applicants for the early-career awards must meet the following criteria:

  • Have held a doctorate in statistics, biostatistics, or a related quantitative field for three or fewer years as of May 2021 or be currently enrolled as a student. The committee encourages individuals with caretaking responsibilities, illness, and other considerations to apply and extends their eligibility by an additional year or more.
  • Be a current member of the Biometrics Section (applicant may join at the time of submission). Please note that membership in the ASA does not automatically confer section membership; ASA members must join individual sections in addition to their regular membership.
  • Be the first author of the paper. The paper may be unsubmitted, submitted, or under review, but may not have already appeared in a journal either online or in print at the time of the application or have been accepted for publication as of December 15, 2021.
  • Be scheduled to present the same paper submitted for the award at the 2022 Joint Statistical Meetings as either a talk or poster.
  • Have submitted the paper to no more than one other ASA section 2022 student or early-career award competition. (Note that in the event of a paper winning two competitions, the author is permitted to accept only one of the two awards.)
  • Have not been a previous Byar award or Biometrics Section paper award winner.

Applicants must submit their JSM abstracts to the Biometrics Section, which will organize a series of topic-contributed sessions to highlight the winners.

Applicants should submit an anonymized copy of the paper (i.e., author names and institutions removed, as well as any references within text to the author’s prior work that is not anonymized). The paper must be a maximum of 25 double-spaced pages (with max of 25 lines per page and at least half-inch margins), including references but not including tables and figures, and submitted as a PDF. Appendixes are not permitted and should not be included. Papers that do not follow these restrictions will not be considered for an award.

Papers must be submitted by December 15, 2021. Questions should be sent to the 2022 Byar Award chair, Pamela Shaw.

Strategic Initiatives Grant

Esther Drill, principal biostatistician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, is the recipient of the 2020 ASA Biometrics Strategic Initiatives Grant. Her project, “Developing the Next Generation of Biostatisticians,” in alignment with the “Bridge to Biostats” program, proposed a “Biostat days” to introduce underserved and underrepresented high-school students to biostatistics. Here, Drill provides an overview of the project and discusses the challenges and progress on the impact of biostatistics outreach amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

As chair of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Bridge to Biostats Committee, I proposed to develop a suite of interactive “statistical thinking” exercises for use as part of our Biostats Day awareness program, which introduces STEM-interested New York City high-school students from underrepresented minority (URM) groups to the biostatistics field. We present this hour-long program over Zoom to students from existing NYC-area organizations that serve our target audience. The proposed statistical thinking activities summarize and visualize data from students in real time, which allows for active participation in learning about introductory statistical concepts, including sampling, sample mean, and sources of error.

To date, we have completed the “Population and Sample Mean” activity, which compares the CDC’s 45,000-person sample mean height with our student group’s mean height, and “The F-Test” activity, in which all students have two minutes to count the number of Fs in the same paragraph and are presented with a histogram of the results demonstrating measurement error.

We have included these activities in Biostats Day presentations to 70 students from three NYC-based STEM exposure organizations: BEAM NYC (Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics), the Einstein Enrichment Program (a New York State–funded Science Technology Entry Program), and Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Summer Exposure Program (SEP). While only 26 percent of students had heard of biostatistics before our presentation, 80 percent expressed interest in learning more about biostatistics at the end. The interactive activities were one of the most frequent answers to the question, “What is your favorite part of Biostats Day?”

Our third statistical thinking activity explores other aspects of error in the context of aging estimation; it is under active R Shiny development. We expect the “Guessing Ages” activity to be ready for use in our next Biostats Day presentation, as well as our BEAM Saturday enrichment class in Spring 2022 and our second cohort of SEP biostatistics summer students in 2022.

We are in the process of creating a GitHub repository for all our Biostats Day materials, including access to and instructions for the statistical activities, and hope it will be a valuable resource for groups interested in performing their own outreach.”

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