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JSM 2023—One Community

1 July 2023 No Comment

Dionne Price

I grew up in southeastern Virginia in an area known as Tidewater. It is appropriately named since you cannot travel far without coming upon a body of water. Perhaps for this reason, my family enjoys water activities and spending time at the beach. For several years, we returned to the same resort for a bit of fun in the sun. We would always arrive at the resort in time for the fire and hula show. On one occasion, my niece volunteered to participate as the entertainers taught the guests the hula moves. As a result of her engagement, my niece made the most of the experience: she learned a new skill, shared her knowledge with others, and made friends in the resort community. Not unlike my niece’s experience with the hula show, the Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM) has provided me—and, I suspect, many readers—with several opportunities to learn, share knowledge, connect with our community, and network; however, the key is engagement.

When I am asked for advice on how to engage and have a productive and successful experience at JSM, I always suggest creating a tentative schedule in advance of the meetings. Of course, serendipity will take over once the meetings begin, but it is helpful to have a tentative schedule on which to build. In this column, I am following my advice and sharing some of the events that are on my tentative JSM 2023 schedule.

Looking at the program, I am grateful for the leadership of Helen Zhang, the chair of this year’s program committee, and for the dedicated service of all committee members. Working with their partners, they have put together a wonderful program beginning with an amazing collection of introductory overview lectures (IOLs). The IOLs are “Applications of Computational Social Science to Diverse Fields,” “Astronomers Speak Statistics,” “Fundamentals of Interpretable Machine Learning,” “Randomized Clinical Trials with Surrogate Markers,” and “Genomic Risk Prediction: Algorithms, Fairness and Applications.” The complete schedule is available on the JSM website.

The anchors for my schedule are the featured speakers. Some choices are easy, and the choice of who to invite as the president’s invited speaker was one of the easiest. I am delighted that Rob Santos will be joining us at JSM 2023 as both a former ASA president and the Director of the US Census Bureau. Rob’s talk will be Monday, August 7. Many of us watched with pride when Rob was sworn in on January 5, 2022. In his more than 40 years of survey research, Rob has been a champion for the practice and profession of statistics. He has expertise in quantitative and qualitative research design, including program evaluation, needs assessments, survey methodology, and survey operations. In addition, he is a tireless advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

On Tuesday morning, Wing-Hung Wong will give the IMS Grace Wahba Award Lecture, and on Wednesday, August 8, Nancy Reid will give the inaugural David R. Cox Foundations of Statistics Award talk. These are only a few of the incredible talks. The entire list of featured speakers is available on the JSM website. You might notice that I am on this list, so along with the feeling of anticipation of seeing friends and meeting new colleagues, there is a bit of nervousness!

Once the anchors of my schedule are in place, I then populate my schedule with paper and poster sessions. The topics are vast, and I tend toward topics aligned with my daily work in the biopharmaceutical arena as well as a few sessions that allow me to learn something outside my areas of expertise. Truly, there is something for everyone, with a broad range of topics such as uncertainty quantification in astronomy, new advances in non-parametric statistics, stochastic optimization for data science, machine learning, and high dimensional regression, to name a few. From the program, it is clear that we are truly applying our knowledge and conducting novel research to solve the problems of today and tomorrow. Speaking of the future, on Sunday, the panel “Frontiers of Statistics” will consider the breadth of our field and challenge us to look to the future. As we seek to increase our knowledge and prepare for the future, I would be remiss if I did not suggest taking advantage of the impressive professional development offerings.

The opportunity to connect with colleagues from all areas of statistics and data science makes JSM unique. I have already mentioned the scientific sessions that present opportunities to connect and engage. There is also the Sunday night opening mixer, which is a great way to network and chat with friends, old and new, while perusing the posters on display. And with each new day of JSM, there are receptions, business meetings, and mixers sponsored by various chapters, sections, and universities. I always try to attend the biopharmaceutical section business meeting and the events of my alma maters, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Emory University. In addition, a favorite tradition is meeting colleagues at the JSM Dance Party, which will take place on Tuesday night. I hope to see you all there.

“One community” is the powerful phrase that begins the JSM 2023 theme. The words were chosen intentionally to highlight that although we are richly diverse in scientific interests, backgrounds, sectors, and applied work, we are a strong community of statisticians and data scientists. And as a community, JSM will showcase how we are informing decisions and driving discoveries. I am eager to see many of you there.

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