Home » Archive

Celebrating Women in Statistics

A Statistician's Life, Celebrating Women in Statistics »

[1 Mar 2023 | No Comment | 529 views]

Pamela McGovern grew up in Connecticut and majored in mathematics in college while working as an actuarial intern during the summer. Being an actuary seemed like a good fit for a math major, but the job also exposed her to statistics and she changed course. McGovern went on to earn a master’s degree at the University of Connecticut. Through the ASA, she learned about career opportunities in the federal government and decided to pursue a mathematical statistician position. After graduating, she began her career in the federal statistical system at the US Census Bureau. She currently works as a senior mathematical statistician at the US Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service. Throughout her 27-year career as a federal statistician, her work has focused on survey statistics and methodology.

A Statistician's Life, Celebrating Women in Statistics »

[1 Mar 2023 | No Comment | 658 views]

Leah Jager was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her dad was a college mathematics professor and her mom taught middle-school math and English. From a young age, she liked playing school and hoped to someday be a professor like her dad. Jager’s first encounter with statistics occurred during a summer internship in a food lab within the R&D division at Amway Corporation. The goal of her project was to improve the taste of a beverage using varying concentrations of a flavor additive. She never succeeded in making the drink taste better, but she did become interested in statistics. Today, as a statistics and biostatistics professor at Johns Hopkins, she is inspired when she sees a student realize the relevance statistics has in their life.

A Statistician's Life, Celebrating Women in Statistics »

[1 Mar 2023 | No Comment | 772 views]

Cathy O’Neil grew up in Lexington, Massachusetts, and was always interested in both music and math. She entered finance in 2007, right before the credit crisis, and became alarmed by what she saw as the misuse of mathematics as an intimidating cover used to exploit less sophisticated investors. In 2011, she became a data scientist and joined Occupy Wall Street. It was there she saw how data science was being used to make lucky people luckier and unlucky people unluckier. The result was the book Weapons of Math Destruction and the formation of her algorithmic auditing company, ORCAA. The mission of ORCAA is to develop standards around algorithmic accountability in general and algorithmic fairness towards individuals in protected classes specifically.

A Statistician's Life, Celebrating Women in Statistics »

[1 Mar 2023 | No Comment | 593 views]

As an undergraduate, Kathy Ensor was fascinated by probability, statistical graphics, statistical theory, and computers. At age 19, she wrote a Fortran program that could play chess and optimize the next move based on a simplistic probabilistic algorithm and data gleaned from the user of the program. She was thrilled to eventually land in a statistics career, though, as it captured all her interests. Hired at Rice University, she built the statistics department from the ground up and served as chair from 1999–2013. In 2021, she was elected president of the ASA and established the IDEA Forum to showcase how statisticians improve lives. While Ensor believes all these accomplishments are important, she says she derives her energy and continued commitment to the profession from the amazing community of statisticians and data scientists, her collaborators, doctoral alumni, and students whom she mentored throughout the years.

A Statistician's Life, Celebrating Women in Statistics »

[1 Mar 2023 | No Comment | 620 views]

Growing up, Denise Abreu’s favorite subject was math. Thinking math and computer science were the same thing, she attended the State University of New York at Stony Brook to major in computer science. To her amazement, she genuinely enjoyed deriving maximum likelihood estimators, finding means and standard deviations, and doing matrix algebra more than she did programing, thus she switched majors. Today, Abreu is a mathematical statistician who has served within the federal statistical system for more than 23 years, first at the Census Bureau and then at the US Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service.

A Statistician's Life, Celebrating Women in Statistics »

[1 Mar 2023 | No Comment | 439 views]

Growing up, Merlise Clyde loved science, math, and the outdoors but really had no idea about careers in mathematics, let alone statistics. She discovered statistics while at Oregon State University studying forestry ecology. There was no major in statistics then, but she took every statistics course she could fit into her degree. Clyde ultimately earned her PhD in statistics from the University of Minnesota. She is best known for her research in Bayesian model selection/model averaging with mixtures of g-priors (and the associated R package BAS); however, her greatest accomplishment has been in Bayesian nonparametric regression using Lévy processes for Lévy adaptive regression kernels.

A Statistician's Life, Celebrating Women in Statistics »

[1 Mar 2023 | No Comment | 800 views]

Amanda Koepke knew from an early age she loved math and was introduced to statistics in high school. Despite loving statistics, she didn’t know what careers would be available to her upon graduation, so she majored in accounting at Texas Tech University. Eventually, she switched her major to psychology and mathematics and statistics. After finishing her undergraduate work, becoming a statistician seemed like the perfect way to merge her love of math and the social sciences, so she pursued her PhD in statistics from the University of Washington. Today, she is a mathematical statistician at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, where she works side-by-side with scientists doing cutting-edge research.

Celebrating Women in Statistics, Cover Story »

[1 Mar 2023 | No Comment | 781 views]
Celebrating Women in Statistics and Data Science

In honor of Women’s History Month, we are once again celebrating ASA women who work in statistics and data science. These accomplished women were chosen because they inspired other women in their field. Read their biographies and find out why they chose statistics, who influenced them, and what they have accomplished.

A Statistician's Life, Celebrating Women in Statistics »

[1 Mar 2023 | No Comment | 383 views]

Becky McNeil’s enchantment with statistics and mathematical modeling began during her undergraduate studies, when she learned about ecological models and population dynamics. After completing her undergraduate degree in mathematics and biology, she took a job in billing at a pharmacy that served long-term care facilities. This was her first exposure to raw data—the stories of health told by billing records—and those stories sparked a deep interest in using mathematical tools to improve health. Eventually, McNeil earned her graduate degree in biostatistics and additional training in epidemiology and bioinformatics. She is now a research statistician at RTI international.

A Statistician's Life, Celebrating Women in Statistics »

[1 Mar 2023 | No Comment | 504 views]

Jill Dever spent the first 22 years of her life in the suburbs of Louisville, Kentucky. Her interest in statistics started with her parents and math flashcards at the kitchen table. Later, her brother heightened her interest in math and taught her computer programming logic by sharing fun facts and projects from school. However, it was her University of Louisville professor who encouraged her to investigate biostatistics, owing to her interest in medical-based TV shows. So, off to The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill she went to earn her MS in biostatistics and later the University of Maryland to earn her PhD. She ended up at RTI International, where she has been for 25 years. One of her greatest achievements is coauthoring two books, including Practical Tools for Sampling and Weighting.