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Meeting Goals and Making More

1 December 2022 357 views No Comment

Katherine Ensor

Oh, what a year 2022 has been! The return to in-person meetings sparked excitement, with approximately 5,000 participants gathering in Washington, DC, for JSM. Toronto 2023, here we come! If you are like me and let your passport lapse during the pandemic, it is time to take care of renewing it.

This fall, those of us in academia have seen the full return of vibrant campuses and enjoyed being with our students again. I will admit to appreciating the ease of Zoom meetings, but it has been wonderful to step away from the computer and reap the benefits of human connection.

At the beginning of my term as ASA president, I set out to make contributions in three areas: data science and artificial intelligence; community analytics; and advancing the ASA Leadership Institute. I have managed to address each area with structural and lasting changes that will benefit our organization now and into the future.

I visited with many of you over the year, talking about the ASA and contributions we can make with our skills and talents. It has been an incredible year, and I thank you for the opportunity to serve in this capacity.

Data Science and AI

In this area, the three main advancements include the following:

    1. Formulating the standing committee on DS and AI to advise the ASA board
    2. Joining CSAB for accreditation of DS and other programs by ABET
    3. Supporting the ASA National Data Mine program headed up by Mark Ward and funded in part by the National Science Foundation

These initiatives were discussed at length in my April column.

Checking in with Mark Glickman in his role as chair of the DS and AI Standing Committee, he noted, “The ASA Committee on Data Science and AI has had an eventful first year. We have begun addressing how statisticians can find opportunities in the expanding world of data science and AI. This includes providing guidance on acquiring data science and AI skills, disseminating data science and AI achievements by ASA members to the public, and sharing insights with the ASA board and membership regarding the role of statistics in data science and AI. We look forward to continuing our impactful work in the coming year.”

This month, Dave Hunter and I will attend the winter CSAB board meeting as the ASA’s representatives and discuss accreditation of associate’s and master’s degrees in data science, as well as other computing programs. Once again, I thank the Caucus of Academic Representatives and others in our community who quickly provided their input to help reshape the data science accreditation criteria. Without the ASA’s voice as a member of CSAB, these accreditations would still go forward but with a narrower scope.

The NSF-sponsored ASA National Data Mine program is off to a successful start with many more applicants than the program can support, leading to opportunities for more expansion.

At the August ASA board meeting, we heard from leaders of other programs across the country. Mentoring and education of future statisticians and data scientists is a tremendous contribution to society; ASA leadership is here to support and collaborate, so please keep that in mind.

Looking to the future, the ASA plans to submit an NSF Innovation Engine proposal with the goal of supporting research stipends for undergraduate students from the manufacturing belt. The objective is to support work with industry partners and foster professional development toward jobs in applied data science in industry.

Community Analytics

This is a theme that resonates with many of you. The ASA has many sections that contribute to this area—Statistics and the Environment, Mental Health Statistics, Statistical Learning and Data Science, Statistical Computing, Statistical Graphics, and Survey Research Methods. The International Conference on Health Policy Statistics in January and the February Conference on Statistical Practice are opportunities to share ideas with like-minded statisticians. Potentially all areas of statistics can be helpful in supporting community analytics.

I am routinely following the important leadership from our profession in, for example, data privacy and data for the public good discussions and invite you to join this important conversation. As many cities and communities develop their data analytics programs, some even naming chief data officers, this is an area in which the ASA should continue to engage.

ASA Leadership Institute

The institute, now up and running, was featured in my October column. As the first chair of the steering committee, I look forward to remaining actively engaged in this effort for the next few years. I also look forward to helping the newly established Caucus for Industry Representatives in its initial stages, as the group organizes to support this cohort of our community.

The November IDEA Forum, which focused on the essential contributions of statistics to solutions addressing the global changing climate, was a huge success. ASA 2023 President Dionne Price is already planning for next year’s forum. I hope we look back in a decade and find that this board-sponsored program has increased our influence and footprint.

The Leadership Institute–sponsored workshop on academic leadership was well attended and provided superb advice. View the materials from this workshop. As always, I was impressed with our community and the ability of many of us to lead with distinction beyond the discipline of statistics. I remain convinced that our field develops exceptional leaders to contribute across all aspects of society and look forward to facilitating the advancement of our members in this capacity.

Looking Back and Forward

The ASA and our community saw many exciting events this year. Nancy Reid was honored with the COPSS Distinguished Achievement Award and Lectureship. The first million-dollar Rousseeuw Prize for Statistics was awarded to James Robins and his collaborators for their work in causal inference. And ASA member Cynthia Rudin received the Award for Artificial Intelligence for the Benefit of Humanity.

In 2023, the fourth International Prize in Statistics will be awarded. I am excited to see who the rock star selection committee chooses.

This year, the ASA continued its forward path of continual improvement toward a just, diverse, equitable, and inclusive professional society. Members of the Anti-Racism Task Force suggested engaging an external firm to assist with our progress. At the November board meeting, the NOVA Collective—our diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility consultants—shared their first report. The board is fully engaged in this effort, and our community is already seeing significant progress.

It is important to acknowledge the pandemic. I expect you share my appreciation of where we stand at the end of 2022. We all have strong recollections of the difficult holidays of 2021 and 2020, where we minimized our family and community gatherings. Our members made huge contributions toward moving the pandemic to an endemic phase through drug discovery, development, and distribution. Just as important, they dampened the impact wherever possible by placing data-based knowledge of our communities in the expert hands of proactive health departments and local leadership. Of course, the impact of the pandemic is not fully behind us, but I know our community will continue to contribute to the global recovery.

I have been honored to serve as your president. Like many of the previous ASA presidents, I will remain actively engaged in our community and contribute to the best of my ability. I very much look forward to working with 2023 President Dionne Price as the ASA past president.

Thanks again to the amazing ASA staff for all they help our profession accomplish. Let me close by wishing each of you a wonderful holiday season, filled with joy and enthusiasm for the future. Of course, I cannot sign off before reminding you once again that statistics is an essential foundation for innovation and what you do matters!


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