Data Science White Paper Addressing Challenges, Opportunities for Statistics, Biostatistics Now Available

A white paper chronicling discussions and conclusions from a July 2016 NSF-sponsored and ASA-hosted workshop for department chairs in statistics and biostatistics is now available. Titled “Success, Opportunities, and Challenges for Statistics and Biostatistics in the Data Science Era,” the report contains content for students, junior faculty, academic leaders, and the greater statistical community. In addition to the paper, the statistical community can view videos of workshop speakers to hear firsthand professional advice and experience from leaders in the field.

“This document echoes the sentiment from workshop panelists that it is an exciting time to be a statistician. Even though the meaning of data science is still somewhat amorphous, there is an emerging consensus that statistics is and will continue to be integral to the evolving field of data science,” said David Hunter, author of the paper and professor and head of the Department of Statistics at Penn State University.

Key findings in the report:

  • reinforce the current and future demand for individuals with substantial statistical education and who have the ability to communicate and collaborate.
  • recognize that an explicit definition of data science is evolving but affirmed the essential role of statistics, mathematics, and computer science in both the theoretical foundations and applications of data science.
  • indicate successful programs will exploit the interdisciplinary nature of the domain and form substantive partnerships both with multiple academic departments and with industry.
  • highlight the need for statisticians to be involved in the proposal review process to ensure the quality of the science that is funded.
  • acknowledge the changing nature of the dissemination of scientific accomplishments and the impact the changes will have on academic career progress.
  • emphasize the importance of career-long mentoring.
  • reiterate the benefit of providing chairs opportunities to discuss issues and concerns with each other.