Dear Statistical Consulting section members,
Happy 2023 and a happy new year ahead. and I here welcome the new officers of the statistical consulting section.
I'm honored to be the chair of the Statistical Consulting Section. First order of business, my many thanks to the previous chair and chapter officers for their important volunteer work for the Section and the ASA. And because of ASA's organizational and continuity policy of "past " officer and "officer elect", many thanks also to the previous past-section chair and other officers who volunteered to assist the section for the past year. The full official list of current and past chapter officers here : https://ww2.amstat.org/sections/officers.cfm?txtComm=SCNSL
And the current Section "-elect" officers https://www.amstat.org/docs/default-source/amstat-documents/2022-electionresults.pdf?sfvrsn=89775203_3
As a professional courtesy I have also reached out to as many past section chairs as I could find. My Second major order of business I am retiring and this role is my metaphorical "swan song" for my active involvement as an officer with ASA. I won't be running for a second term! As section chair I am now and for the rest of the year will be encouraging section members to suggest and to volunteer for section opportunities. And Well in advance I encourage interested section members to "toss their hat in the ring " for election as section chair and other roles in the Section including those that arise in the coming year.
my first "90 days".
Over the next month. I will be offline for a brief international January 2023 family related excursion. I will be in Taipei Taiwan visiting my son and daughter-in-law later in January during Chinese New Years. I have asked the Chair Elect , Robyn Ball to be acting chair with assistance from the past -chair , Maggie. First 90 days, January and February are busy, there is a Conference on Statistical Practice (CSP https://ww2.amstat.org/meetings/csp/2023/)
in SAn Francisco in early February, which I plan to attend at least one day. That is an opportunity to meet section members in person. Currently no formal event for the statistical consulting section at the upcoming CSP meeting. I currently live near Sacramento and for the past year I have served as President of the Sacramento Statistical Association. Previous to that I have volunteered for roles in the Statistical consulting section and miscellaneous other ASA, Chapter , committee and section work. I will briefly outline my plans for section initiatives and will give a fuller description after the first meeting with the section officers.
Finally, Please permit me to give my very brief bio, a fuller version of my Biography I expect will be appearing in an upcoming issue of the AMSTAT news.
My brief-as-possible bio. My academic background, undergraduate was mostly economics and extensive course work in Molecular Biology and even a semester smattering of electron microscopy. In the pandemic and vaccine era of covid, I like to point out that I learned about mRNA in a molecular biology course my second year undergraduate at UColorado -Boulder perhaps 1972. I was initially in a Graduate Economics program concerned with deeper mathematical issues such as Kakutani fixed point theorems, General Equilibrium theory (a la John Maynard Keynes), modern monetary theory (a la Milton Friedman), Pareto Optimality, the usual Micro- and Macro- economics and many other economics concepts. Hind sight being perfect in a moment of inspiration I changed to Biostatistics and I subsequently worked on my very first clinical trial at NSABP. Years later and in metaphorical "full circle" I worked in a Health economics department at Roche and liased with the clinical trial statisticians in order to support the various economists in the Roche Pharma business and strategic pricing global organization for their work on cost effectiveness and related modelling. My paper in TAS about computing issues for the Kaplan Meier mean arose from one of my economics projects.
I like to recall my light-hearted debates with my economist boss (Lou Garrison) at the time because he always requested I run regressions with dummy variables. I insisted upon calling them Indicator variables. Lou and I remain friends - and one day we had a conversation where I got to say "Lou you need to know that dummy variables are for dummies and we statisticians use indicator variables." Fortunately Lou still thinks that was pretty funny but unpersuaded he still called them dummy variables :) I transitioned to statistical consulting after the last major corporate restructuring at J&J.
For those who are contemplating eventual retirement, my experience so far is that statisticians need not retire at 11:59 pm the night before their 65th birthday! Likely ,many statisticians may find they continue to work past standard "retirement age" at age 65.
I have not yet seen my official biography to appear in the AMSTAT news- ASA staff are helping to write my bio. in advance of that and to be sure I give credit.to two of the many people who encouraged my career in statistics. One of two statisticians, Dr. Carol Redmond, at the University of Pittsburgh school of public health and now emeritus at Pitt . Carol is doing well and we stay in touch. I had a completely unique "career launching" experience. There was literally a "year/month/day/hour/minute" when I launched my career because I met with Carol after returning to GSPH from a summer internship at NCHS. At a routine administrative meeting --Carol described several opportunities at Pitt (GSPH) for my "graduate student path forward". ONe of several excellent options was to work for Carol on cancer clinical trials at NSABP. At the time I had no idea what was involved in a clinical trial and no idea what an "NSABP" meant. Since that meeting and working for Carol I have been working on clinical trials, often oncology for the several decades of my career. To memorialize my appreciation of Carol, For those students who are considering a graduate program I endowed a fund for graduate students in Carols' name at Pitt. The second statistician who in part I met because of his familiarity with Carol was Paul Meier. I count as a highlight of graduate education having Paul derive the Kaplan-Meier estimator on the chalkboard, as I recall with a use of Fubini's theorem, while in class, and Paul's explanation as to how John Tukey had arranged the co-author-ship by Kaplan and Meier of their original Kaplan Meier paper.
And also Possibly not in my official bio to appear in the AMSTAT news.
Formally I had a "dotted line" reporting arrangement with Paul Meier when I worked at the UChicago cancer center. Paul was on faculty in the statistics department at U Chicago. One of my fond technical recollections when computers were often nearly monolithic IBM 360's or DEC 10's (PDP-10). Paul taught me how to do randomizations using the traditional books of random numbers available in the statistics library. His method, he named the "dollar bills method". Keep in mind at the time getting computer time required budget and actual dollars ($) to pay for computer time and at the time budget for computing arrived in units of $25.00 . The essence of Paul's dollar bills method was that the serial numbers on dollar bills could be viewed as random. The method was basically to use the serial number from a dollar bill in ones wallet, extract numbers in order to randomly locate a specific page, column and row in a book of random numbers and thereby generate a randomization. Less well known and deserving of wider reporting is that Paul and several other prominent statisticians of that era provided statistical consulting to the AIDS activists at ACTUP during the AIDS epidemic and the development of the first drugs for AIDS. The details of Paul's role , and in my note I credit Greg Gonsalves at Yale for many details, are included in my note in the newsletter for the Society of Clinical Trials. Paul also worked on the Polio clinical trials. He was also part of the team that discovered that Cutter laboratories had major failures in manufacturing of the polio vaccine that had led to children developing polio after getting the vaccine . I commend reading Pauls article in Science about the discovery of the failure in manufacturing of the polio vaccine.
I plan to discuss my initiatives for the year at the first official meeting with the section officers and then to present/discuss with the section. In advance of that one of my several initiatives have, in part, been announced. One is data privacy and I wrote about that in the September AMSTAT news. I am also interested in meeting other statisticians retiring, or considering retiring. Not an initiative - A priority that all section members and ASA members generally should be aware of are the efforts by the ASA board and several committees about diversity. One committee spearheading that work is the JEDI committee - Justice Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. There are section members working on that initiative and I hope to have more to report in a few weeks or sooner. And generally I support as much transparency as possible for section activities and decision making which I generically refer to as "governance"
As in nearly all matters with ASA, the volunteer efforts of section and ASA members are essential and I and all at ASA appreciate your volunteer efforts.
I will be inviting more volunteers in the coming year. The section belongs to the section members. and I appreciate section member ideas and suggestions for initiatives.
Thank you all. I look forward to the year ahead.
Chris Barker, Ph.D.
2022 Statistical Consulting Section
Adjunct Associate Professor of Biostatisticswww.barkerstats.com
"In composition you have all the time you want to decide what to say in 15 seconds, in improvisation you have 15 seconds."