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JSM 2022 Foundations and Innovations and Looking Forward

1 September 2022 No Comment

Katherine Ensor

A Foundation for Innovation was the theme for JSM 2022. When I selected it, I wanted to celebrate our contributions to science and society. My JSM 2022 experiences reminded me that a most important foundation is our community. I won’t be able to capture in words the excitement of seeing old friends, the serendipity of making new friends during a technical session, or the joy of being able to celebrate our many successes, so I need your help. Please share the “selfies” you took to commemorate JSM. I’m including a few of mine here!

For members of the ASA Board of Directors, JSM began on Friday, August 5, with the first day of our two-day board meeting. The agenda was packed, and a more detailed overview will be published in a subsequent Amstat News article, so I want to focus on just one outcome. The board voted to establish a new outreach group: the Caucus of Industry Representatives.

Katherine Ensor is flanked by Abdul-Nasah Soale (right) and his thesis adviser, Yuexiao Dong.

This group will parallel the successful Caucus of Academic Representatives. Its purpose is to promote statistics and data science in the private and public sectors and provide resources for industry statisticians and data scientists to successfully advocate for the discipline. I am grateful to Ginger Holt, senior staff data scientist for Databricks, for agreeing to lead this effort. If you are interested in learning more about opportunities to be involved, reach out to ASA Director of Strategic Initiatives and Outreach Donna LaLonde.

Planning my conference schedule was different this year because business meetings took priority over the technical program. I was fortunate to be able to meet with the Caucus of Academic Representatives, Leadership Council, and Membership Council, as well as attend the COPSS meeting, the session recapping the findings and recommendations of the anti-racism task force, and many more important business meetings of our association. I left each meeting amazed by the breadth of work and contributions from members. If you are not involved in a chapter or section, I encourage you to get involved. It will be rewarding.

Linda Young (left) and Katherine Ensor stop for a photo before Ensor gives the ASA President’s Address.

The program committee’s hard work paid off. Led by Ming-Hui Chen, the committee selected the introductory overview lectures and late-breaking sessions, which included presentations about computational advertising, sports analytics, transparency in federal statistics, and algorithmic bias and public policy.

I will admit to FOMO (fear of missing out) when it comes to the technical program, since my schedule did not allow me to attend many sessions. However, I know from conversations with colleagues and Twitter comments that the quality of sessions once again highlighted the breadth and depth of our science. I think Maria Cuellar’s tweet captures the celebratory spirit. She says, “I loved being a part of two sessions in statistics and the law. The other talks were so much fun to listen to. Looking forward to the dance party to celebrate. See you there!”

Rob Santos (right) tweeted, “So happy to see upcoming 2023 American Statistical Association President Dionne Price at #JSM2022.”

In the past, one of my first steps in JSM preparation would be to add the featured speakers to my schedule. Looking back, it is worth celebrating the rich history of these plenary talks. How many of you were in the audience in 2011 when Sir David Cox was one of the featured speakers?

This year, I had the pleasure of introducing Reginald DesRoches as my invited speaker and David Banks as the Deming lecturer. We also had Medallion lectures by Dylan Small and Huixia Judy Wang. Madhu Mazumdar gave an inspirational COPSS Elizabeth L. Scott Lecture, and Nancy Reid was recognized with the COPSS Distinguished Achievement Award. As Brahmar Mukherjee shared on Twitter, Reid was the first woman to receive the COPSS Presidents’ Award 30 years ago. She is indeed a statistical hero! This year, we recognized Daniella Whitten, a true leader in our field, with the COPSS Presidents’ Award. Remember, all the plenary talks will be publicly available on the JSM 2022 website.

Monnie McGee (left) and Steve Sain lean in to Katherine Ensor to take a selfie while celebrating during JSM.

The ASA vision imagines a world that relies on data and statistical thinking to drive discovery and inform decisions. Since JSM was in the US capital this year, we had a unique opportunity to promote the importance of data science and literacy. Members of our community participated in Capitol Hill visits to advocate for a data science and literacy bill. The bill would create a voluntary program, which would be administered by the US Department of Education, to increase K–16 student access to data science and data literacy educational opportunities. Educational institutions would be able to apply for grant support of programs that include professional development for teachers, workforce development, and curriculum development. A big thank you to those who added Hill visits to their JSM schedule! This effort is ongoing, so to get involved, contact Steve Pierson, ASA director of science policy.

Word clouds made from audience members’ responses to Katherine Ensor’s request to share their idea of “innovations” and “foundations”

My presidential address, titled “Statistical Foundations Driving 21st-Century Innovation,” brought forward the importance of our science. I asked you to share your idea of “innovations” and “foundations” during the talk and, for fun, I include the resulting word clouds in this article. There is still time to grow our collective voice. If you would like to add to the conversation, share your idea of innovations and foundations. I will speak to this further in the JASA article associated with my presidential address.

To be able to share innovations and foundations with you and to recognize the ASA award winners and fellows was an experience I will treasure. Seeing the videos of those we were celebrating let us learn more about them. The heartfelt sentiment from the conclusion of my speech remains true: What you do matters!

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