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ASA at 175 - Interest groups

By Ronald Wasserstein - July 1, 2014

ASA at 175 – Interest Groups

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.

In 2011, the “Uncertainty Quantification in Complex Systems” interest group formed to work in tandem with a similar interest group in the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) to develop research collaborations. The ASA also partners with SIAM in publishing the Journal of Uncertainty Quantification.

Six years ago, the “Statistics in Business Schools” interest group was formed to continue the work done through an annual conference (“Making Statistics More Effective in Schools of Business”) that was conducted for nearly 20 years.

The longest running of our current interest groups, the Transportation Statistics Interest Group (TSIG), began in 2003.  We’ll focus the remainder of this blog on its activities as exemplifying the value such groups provide their members.

Li Leung and Alan Karr serve as chair and vice chair of TSIG, respectively.  They work with a steering committee that holds quarterly meetings via teleconference.   TSIG has 267 members on its email list (a 23% increase from last year) and 118 TSIG LinkedIn Discussion Board members (a 32% increase from last year).  One of the results of the group’s work this year is an article “Statistics Plays Important Role in Transportation” in the ASA Statistical Significance series. 

TSIG holds business meetings at the Transportation Research Board Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. and at the Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM).  It is sponsoring or co-sponsoring five technical sessions at JSM.  In addition, TSIG hopes to

We hope this quick glimpse about interest groups might interest you in joining one or forming one.  For details, contact Rick Peterson at the ASA Office (

NB: I apologize for the hiatus on this blog. Personal matters reduced the amount of time I had for blogging.

In 2014, the American Statistical Association is celebrating its 175th anniversary.  Over the course of this year, this blog will highlight aspects of that celebration, and look broadly at the ASA and its activities.  Please contact ASA Executive Director Ron Wasserstein ( if you would like to post an entry to this blog.

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