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Postdoc Numbers Small but on the Rise for Statistics

By Steve Pierson posted 09-09-2013 09:56

  

 [12/13/22 update: Graphs updated with 2020 data. New field, biostatistics and bioinformatics, added in 2017, likely dominated by bioinformatics The corresponding data and a new graph are here:

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 % female 2021
Mathematical sciences 624 723 737 756 805 902 932 959 1,011 1,005 991 982 1,070 1,076 1112 25%
   Math/applied math 571 643 675 680 706 782 787 840 873 887 860 833 892 924 923 24-26%
   Statistics 53 80 62 76 99 120 145 119 138 118 131 149 178 152 189 23%
   Biostatistics &bioinformatics 695 699 721 830 733  40%

 end of update]

Newly released data from the National Science Foundation indicate growing numbers of  postdocs in statistics. Data from Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering: Fall 2011 are shown in the figure below.

Figure 1: Numbers of postdocs for statistics and mathematics/applied mathematics normalized to their 2007 levels, which are shown in the parentheses in the legend.


While on the rise, the numbers for statistics are still small in comparison to mathematics and applied mathematics postdocs. In 2011, there were seven times as many math/applied math postdocs as statistics postdocs. (The ratio of PhD's for the two fields depends on what categories one includes. In 2012, there were 1061 math PhD's, 206 applied math PhD's, 323 statistics PhD's and 173 biostatistics degrees.) For further comparison, the 2011 postdoc numbers for computer science, physics, biology, and chemistry are, respectively, 769, 2704, 2408, and 4018.

The postdoc statistics data are consistent with an article Alan Karr wrote in 2011 for STATtr@kAttitudes About Postdoctoral Training for Statisticians Evolve, where he notes a dramatic change over the past 25 years.

The September Amstat News features two pieces on postdoctoral positions, one on fellowship opportunities, "Post-doc Fellowships, Programs, and Opportunities," and the other, "Post-doctoral Positions: A Path from Graduate School to Career," profiling Georgetown University Biostatistics Professor George Luta on his postdoc experience.

For trends in undergraduate and graduate degrees in statistics, see this May 2013 Amstat News article, "Growing Numbers of Stats Degrees."

See also this September, 2013 NSF report, "Counts of Postdoctoral Appointees in Science, Engineering, and Health Rise with Reporting Improvements."

See other ASA Science Policy blog entries. For ASA science policy updates, follow @ASA_SciPol on Twitter.

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