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In a short September 17 markup, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee approved H.R. 4366, the Strengthening Education through Research Act (SETRA), after minor modifications. As explained in the June 3 blog entry, House Passes Bill Diminishing Stature and Autonomy of National Center for Education Statistics; Senate Plans Unclear, the House-passed bill re-authorizing the Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences (IES) diminishes the stature and autonomy of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) by removing presidential appointment of its commissioner and relegating other responsibilities from the commissioner to the IES director. 

Because the specific concerns about these provisions are laid out in

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ASA President-Elect David Morganstein sent letters to both House and Senate leaders in early September regarding H.R. 4012 and S. 2613both titled "Secret Science Reform Act of 2014"expressing concern and urging major revisions to the bills before further consideration. While generally applauding the bills' intent to make data underlying EPA rulemaking more available, Morganstein's letter (House version; Senate version) states,

Our concerns include those voiced by others (especially the American Association for the Advancement of Science) that the bill’s statements do not account for the complexities common to the scientific process on research that involves biological materials or physical specimens not easily accessible, combinations of public and private data, longitudinal data collected over many years that are difficult to reproduce, and data from one-time events that cannot be replicated...  We also agree with the point that it would be prudent to see the EPA’s data access policy—in accordance with the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010—expected by year’s end before further action on H.R. 4012.

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At the current rate of development there will be about 10,000 R packages available in 2 years time! Click here to read more.
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Employ your data skills for great causes!  

 

The Avalon Consulting Group is seeking a statistician to build and validate models and conduct data mining for direct marketing campaigns and program strategy.  Collaborate with our dynamic teams on award-winning campaigns for museums, theaters, and an exciting variety of progressive nonprofits and political campaigns.   


What You Will Do

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Original article here

Professor David Fox ponders on QA/QC issues for the R computing environment.
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Novavax, Inc. a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company is seeking an Associate Director, Biostatistics to join their team in Gaithersburg, MD.

 

Responsibilities include:

• Assists clinical team in designing all NOVAVAX-sponsored clinical trials and prepares all statistical sections of clinical protocols using appropriate statistical methodology for the specific trial, including selection of study design, sample size, and analyses.

• Reviews database design, CRF's, and edit checks.

• Prepares statistical analysis plans.

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The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the White House Office of Science and Technology (OSTP) released their joint budget priorities memo for FY16 on July 18. The joint memo is issued annually to guide federal agencies and departments in the preparation of their upcoming budget submissions. The document states, "Federal government funding for research and development (R&D) is essential to address societal needs in areas in which the private sector does not have sufficient economic incentive to make the required investments. Key among these is the fundamental, curiosity-driven inquiry that has been a hallmark of the American research enterprise and a powerful driver of unexpected, new technology." It also says, "Agencies should explain in their budget submissions how they are redirecting available resources from lower-priority areas to science and technology activities that address the priorities described below."

These memos are important for the statistical community to monitor because they provide opportunities to state how statisticians can contribute to national research priorities. In the past several months, three ASA groups released whitepapers relating to three national research priorities: the BRAIN Initiative, the Big Data R&D Initiative and the climate change research priority. The ASA whitepapers are described in this July
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It is hard to believe it got here so fast, but the Joint Statistical Meetings are in full swing.  In my role as executive director, I'm making the rounds at the conference, updating members on some of the exciting activities of the ASA in its 175th anniversary year.  For those of you not able to join us in Boston, here is the summary I am sharing at various meetings:
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Over the past 18 months, I've been writing about the growth in the number of statistics degrees being granted using data from the National Center for Education Statistics NCES. I've restricted my queries to five categories, which are represented by these five NCES CIP codes: 26.1102 – Biostatistics; 27.0501 - Statistics, General; 27.0502 - Mathematical Statistics and Probability; >27.0503 - Mathematics and Statistics; and 27.0599 - Statistics, Other. I generally use Statistics to be the last four categories, which NCES categorizes as 27.05 - Statistics. (See below for definitions and links.)

Because statistics is such a broad field and there are emerging areas like, for example, data science and analytics, it was suggested I use a blog entry to briefly discuss the CIP Codes and to consider statistics-related CIP codes. When one does look at the related degrees, one sees that some statistics-related degrees are also seeing strong growth.

Let me start with a chart of the four 27.05 categories, Biostatistics, and a related statistics degree: 27.9999 – Mathematics and Statistics – Other. For ease of comparison, the data below includes Bachelor's degrees categorized as 1st majors (and therefore misses another ~300 degrees.) One can see in the chart that most of Bachelor's degrees are categorized as 27.0501 - Statistics, General and that this category captures most of the growth in Bachelor's degrees. One will also notice a big jump in 27.0502 - Mathematical Statistics and Probability between 2011 and 2012, which is due to one university changing how it categorizes its Bachelor's degrees. It's also worth noting that the 27.9999 category has increased 50% since 2003.

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The ASA Committee on Funded Research (CFR) will again be hosting a meeting at JSM for attendees to learn about funding opportunities directly from representatives of funding agencies. "Funding Opportunities for Statistics" is scheduled for Tuesday, August 5, 4-5:30 pm in room 157B of the Convention Center. This meeting has been very well attended in past years and I hope that you'll be part of it this year.

The confirmed speakers are

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The NIH Advisory Committee to the Director released a report in early June, BRAIN 2025: A Scientific Vision, that emphasizes the importance of statistics. Its executive summary lists seven scientific goals that are high priorities for achieving this vision including:

Identifying fundamental principles: Produce conceptual foundations for understanding the biological basis of mental processes through development of new theoretical and data analysis tools. Rigorous theory, modeling, and statistics are advancing our understanding of complex, nonlinear brain functions where human intuition fails. New kinds of data are accruing at increasing rates, mandating new methods of data analysis and interpretation. To enable progress in theory and data analysis, we must foster collaborations between experimentalists and scientists from statistics, physics, mathematics, engineering, and computer science.

This goal is then discussed in section 2.5, titled, "Theory, Modeling, and Statistics Will Be Essential to Understanding the Brain." That section listed and discussed several "areas that appear promising for the collaborative efforts of theorists and experimentalists:"
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In keeping with the “celebrate our past, energize our future” theme of the 175th anniversary, we are pleased to announce today that “Statistics and Science: A report of the London workshop on the future of the statistical sciences” is posted on The World of Statistics website. The London workshop was the capstone meeting of the International Year of Statistics 2013.

Below is the blog I wrote for The World of Statistics website summarizing the report, but I urge you to read the full report. It is well worth the time!

Statistical science is as healthy as it ever has been, with robust growth in student enrollment, abundant new sources of data, challenging problems to solve and related opportunities to grasp over the next century, summarizes a just-released report on the future of the field.

Statistics and Science: A Report of the London Workshop on the Future of the Statistical Sciences (http://bit.ly/londonreport) is the product of a high-level meeting in London last November attended by 100 prominent statisticians from around the world. This invitation-only summit was the capstone event of the International Year of Statistics, a year-long celebration during 2013 that drew as participants more than 2,300 organizations from 128 countries.
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We’ve written often in this 175th anniversary blog about the importance of communities within the ASA.  (See March 27, for example.)  Today we’ll focus on one specific type of community, a type many members are unfamiliar with, but one which serves an important purpose for those who are involved.

Interest groups are smaller ASA communities organized around an area of specific importance to portions of our diverse membership.  They are generally smaller than and more loosely organized than ASA sections, but they are every bit as important to their members.

There are four ASA interest groups.  The newest of these, Astrostatistics, was formed just a few months ago.  It was organized to meet a growing need in collaborative research efforts between statisticians and astronomers and to encourage astrostatistical research to flourish within the ASA.  The group hopes to draw more statisticians into astrostatistics, and, consequently, more astronomers into astrostatistics since those new statisticians will seek out astronomy collaborators.  They are connected with a Working Group on Astroinformatics and Astrostatistics of the American Astronomical Society.

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[7/10/14 update: The ASA Submitted its comments July 9. Read the letter here.]

In a May 21 Federal Register notice, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) solicits comments on a proposed new Statistical Policy Directive affirming "the fundamental responsibilities of Federal statistical agencies and recognized statistical units in the design, collection, processing, editing, compilation, analysis, release, and dissemination of statistical information." Comments are due July 21 and the ASA will be strongly supporting the proposed directive.

The proposed directive, which makes up two of the notice's five pages, delineates four responsibilities of federal statistical agencies and units to "provide a framework that supports Federal statistical policy and serves as a foundation for Federal statistical activities, promoting trust among statistical agencies, data providers, and data users." The four responsibilities are  

  1. Produce and disseminate relevant and timely information.
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[7/10/14 Update: ASA, AERA, and nine other organizations send letter to Senate HELP Committee expressing their concerns.
8/1/14: Save our data! Protect the integrity of education statistics, by Chester E. Finn, Jr.
8/28/14: Keeping the National Center for Education Statistics independent, by Laura w. Perna, The Hill, 8/28/14]

In early May, the House passed a bill reauthorizing the Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences (IES), which includes the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and three other centers. IES was created in 2002 with the original IES authorization bill, the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA).

The bill the House passed in May, H.R. 4366, the

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In the next few days, the ASA will launch its 2014 annual fund drive, hoping to improve on the record-setting success of last year’s drive.  There are many reasons members choose to support the ASA through contributions to the association, but a common theme is to give back to the profession and the association. There is much the ASA does to promote the practice and profession of statistics, and it can do much more with additional support.

Thus, members are invited during the annual fund drive to make a donation to further expand education, understanding and access to statistics worldwide. Member financial support of ASA activities makes a difference in many ways.  Here are a few:

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[5/29/14 3:25 pm Update: McNerney and Bridenstine amendments approved in recorded votes. Total cuts on House Floor now total $133 million, lowering the House mark for Census Bureau to $974 million, with more amendments possible, including one to make the ACS voluntary. C-Span is saying final passage of CJS bill expected this evening.

5/29/14 9:40 pm: House approves Poe amendment by voice vote, making the American Community Survey voluntary (by restricting funding to enforce penalties for ACS non-response.) The Poe-Fattah exchange on the amendment is pasted below.]

In its first day of deliberations of the FY15 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) appropriations bill, seven amendments were offered over an 80 minute period diverting funding from the Census Bureau to other parts of the CJS bill. So far, the cuts have amounted to $118 million with votes pending on another $15 million and one amendment withdrawn.

More amendments are expected in day two, including amendments that could make the American Community Survey (ACS) voluntary or otherwise undermine it. In 2012, on the FY13 CJS bill, the House voted to make the ACS voluntary and then to eliminate it altogether
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The International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) will begin this weekend in Los Angeles, and as they have for more than 25 years, ASA members will be there to judge the statistical content of the projects.

Involvement in ISEF is an outreach project of the ASA Council of Chapters—has been since 1987—thanks to the vision and effort of the late Joe Ward. ISEF is the world’s largest scientific competition, with more than 7 million high-school students around the world competing to land one of the approximately 1,600 coveted spots as a finalist. These spots are awarded to students who have advanced from local and regional fairs based on the quality of their projects.

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The ASA Ad Hoc Advisory Committee on Forensic Statistics submitted written comments to the newly established National Commission on Forensic Science "to enhance scientific thinking to benefit the practice of forensic science." In the cover letter, 2015 ASA President David Morganstein writes,
We at the ASA commend the creation of the National Commission on Forensic Science and offer to
support your important work in any way we can. A prominent theme within "Strengthening Forensic
Science" is the need to undergird the science in the forensic science disciplines. We are convinced
statistical scientists can be helpful in this regard. As noted in a 2010 statement by the ASA Board of
Directors on forensic science (http://amstat.org/policy/pdfs/Forensic_Science_Endorsement.pdf),
"Statisticians are vital to establishing measurement protocols, quantifying uncertainty, designing
experiments for testing new protocols or methodologies, and analyzing data from such experiments."
In their statement, the committee recommended these four steps:
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An important part of the future focus of the ASA’s 175th anniversary celebration is on encouraging young people to consider careers in statistics. This is the fourth ASA at 175 blog on the topic (see the third one for links to the other two).  The occasion for writing this blog is that I was asked a series of questions by writer who is developing a profile of statistics as a career. Here are the questions, and my responses. At the end of them is an opportunity for you to help me sharpen these responses.

  • Who hires statisticians and why?

Statisticians work in a surprising array of places, throughout academia, business, industry, scientific research and government. Statistics is used by scientists of all types, including social scientists. It’s also used by business executives; economists; advertising and marketing representatives; educators; technology company leaders; drug company and medical researchers; transportation planners; our elected representatives in government at all levels; and so many more critical fields.

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