Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship

(This history was originally a webpage designed by Jana Asher and has been updated with her permission.)

The Government Statistics Section (GSS) and the Social Statistics Section (SSS) of the American Statistical Association (ASA) are pleased to announce the availability of a scholarship in memory of Wray Jackson Smith, a founding member of the Government Statistics Section and long-time contributor to Federal statistics. The Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship (WJSS), co-sponsored with the Washington Statistical Society, the Caucus for Women in Statistics, Harris-Smith Institutes, Mathematica Policy Research, and Synectics for Management Decisions, Inc., is intended to reward promising young statisticians for their diligence, thereby encouraging them to consider a future in government statistics.

(For more information on Wray Smith see: Biography of Wray Smith which was take from the September 2005 Amstat News.)

The Wray Smith Scholarship was first conceptualized at a meeting of the Government Statistics Section Income Committee in the summer of 2000. Pat Doyle, with the assistance of Jana Asher and John Czajka, led the effort to create a proposal to establish a fund in honor of Wray Smith that fall, and in the spring of 2001, the Executive Committee of the American Statistical Association approved the project. Clyde Tucker, the Chair of the Government Statistics Section, appointed a three-member committee (Pat Doyle as Chair, Wendy Alvey, and Jana Asher) to begin work on the scholarship. The committee had two large goals for 2001: to begin to raise the money necessary to endow the fund, and to develop the guidelines by which the scholarship would be distributed.

Our first brochure, designed by Wendy Alvey, gave some background on Wray Smith and information on how to donate to the fund. The brochure was distributed at the Joint Statistical Meetings in 2001. In the brochure we stated that we needed to raise $10,000 to start distributing scholarships. By the end of the Joint Statistical Meetings, we had successfully raised over $10,000.

(The front and back cover of the first Wray Smith Scholarship Fund brochure.)

A separate project for the Joint Statistical Meetings in 2001 was the organization and presentation of a memorial session in honor of Wray Smith. John Czajka was heavily involved in the development of this session, and Sameena Salvucci was the organizer. Members of the Wray Smith Scholarship Committee served in an advisory role and attended the session.

(Wray Jackson Smith Memorial Session in progress.)

(Session participants: Elizabeth Margosches (chair), John Czajka, Bette Mahoney, Nancy Kirkendall, Dhirendra Ghosh, and Sameena Salvucci (organizer).)

A third project: as part of the Government Statistics Section's efforts to both promote the section in general and the Wray Smith Scholarship Fund in specific, Jana Asher organized a GSS "table" at which information could be distributed to passersby at the Joint Statistical Meetings in 2001. The table was housed at the joint Council of Chapters/Council of Sections booth. As well as having brochures describing the Government Statistics Section and the Wray Smith Scholarship Fund, we also distributed general literature about the federal statistical system (Kathy Wallman graciously provided this literature).

(Information available at the table. Yes, that is a bowl of chocolate in the corner.)

(During Pat Doyle's turn to volunteer at the table, she is visited by a passerby, Kathy Wallman, and Steve Fienberg.)

(Ron Fecso, organizer of the COS section of the booth and Council of Sections Chair-Elect, stops to chat with Carol House, Vice Chair of the Council of Sections.)

Bolstered by our success at the Joint Statistical Meetings, the Wray Smith Scholarship Committee worked hard during the fall of 2001 on additional fundraising, and received enough pledges to bring the scholarship fund to $20,000. During the fall, the committee decided to designate organizations or individuals that contributed or pledged $500 or more to the fund before December 31st, 2001 as "Founding Sponsors" (unless they wished to remain anonymous). A list of the founding sponsors of the scholarship follows below.

Founding Sponsors of the Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship:

Caucus for Women in Statistics
Section on Government Statistics, American Statistical Association
Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.
Social Statistics Section, American Statistical Association
Synectics for Management Decisions, Inc.
Washington Statistical Society

Additionally, upon their disbandment The Harris-Smith Institutes donated a substantial sum in August of 2002.

The Wray Smith Scholarship Committee also used the fall of 2001 to design the scholarship application form and create a detailed plan as to the selection criteria for and timing of the scholarship. During this process the name of the scholarship was changed from "Wray Smith" to "Wray Jackson Smith" so that the acronym for the scholarship (WJSS) would be distinct from the acronym for the Washington Statistical Society (WSS). At the meeting of the Government Statistics Section Executive Committee on December 18th, 2001, the plan was discussed, modified slightly, and approved. Shortly thereafter, the Director of Operations of the American Statistical Association also approved the plan, and the first scholarship was set to be awarded in 2002. An announcement appeared in the February 2002 issue of Amstat News, and information about the scholarship was sent to academic departments, heads of the federal statistical agencies, and to the GSS/SSS email distribution list. The scholarship application form became available on the Government Statistics Section website at this time.

The scholarship committee eagerly awaited the first applications in the spring of 2002; we extended the deadline for the applications to May 15th, 2002 in order to increase the applicant pool. On May 28th, during the Government Statistics Section meeting, the winner was announced. Email was sent to all applicants on May 29th informing them of their status, and paper letters shortly followed.

The 2002 winner of the Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship, Amelia Haviland, was a graduate student working towards a joint Ph.D. in Statistics and Public policy at the Department of Statistics and the H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University.

(Amelia Haviland.)

Amelia used the award to travel to the Joint Statistical Meetings in 2002 and attend a continuing education course on non-sampling error held at that conference. A short award ceremony was held in her honor at the Government Statistics Section Business Meeting on August 13th at the 2002 Joint Statistical Meetings. The certificate, designed by Jana Asher, read "The Government Statistics Section of the American Statistical Association presents the first Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship Award to Amelia Haviland on August 13th 2002." The certificate itself had a picture of Wray Jackson Smith as a background design and was signed by John Czajka as the Government Statistics Section Chair and Pat Doyle as the Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship Committee Chair.

The WJSS committee was not quite as busy at the 2002 Joint Statistical Meetings as it had been at the 2001 Joint Statistical Meetings, but engaged in several activities none-the-less. Pat Doyle, as committee chair, presented Amelia with her award. Additionally, brochures designed by Wendy Alvey describing the Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship to potential applicants were distributed via the 2002 JSM Council of Sections booth and at GSS functions. Finally, additional contributions to the WJSS fund were requested of several of the founding sponsors.

The year 2003 saw the first change in the WJSS committee membership. Clyde Tucker's original concept for the Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship committee in 2001 was that it would consist of three members each serving staggered three-year terms, with the last year of a committee member's term being served as the committee chair. In 2003, Wendy Alvey rotated off the committee, Pat Doyle served as chair (in her last year on the committee), and Jana Asher served in her "second" year on the committee. The new committee member for 2003, picked by John Czajka, was Sameena Salvucci.

Applications for the 2003 Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship, the second scholarship to be awarded, were accepted through April 1st of 2003. The winner was Yun Li, an applied statistics graduate student of Bowling Green State University. She used the scholarship to further her examination of state reactions to local government fiscal crises with Professor Beth Walter.

(Yun Li.)

In the calendar year 2004, Wendy Alvey, as GSS chair, chose Bob Groves to join the WJSS committee as Pat Doyle left. Wendy also assisted the committee in 2004 in its duties.

Two goals were reached in the year 2004. First, over the course of the year, the last of the $25,000 needed to endow the Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship Fund was raised, ending the fund-raising period of the scholarship. Second, a third WJSS winner was chosen. The winner in 2004, Jennifer Park, was a Research Associate at the National Center for Education Statistics. She used the scholarship in order to attend a Joint Program in Survey Methodology short course titled "An Introduction to Survey Sampling" taught by Colm O’Muircheartaigh and James Lepkowski in December of 2004.

(Jennifer Park.)

As part of raising the money necessary for the endowment of the WJSS fund, the Social Statistics Section (SSS) of the American Statistical Association negotiated with the Government Statistics Section of the American Statistical Association to share primary sponsorship of the scholarship. In exchange for a sizable donation, the SSS will share the responsibility of determining members of the WJSS committee. Although the committee will stay the same size, three members with staggered three year terms (with the last year of their term as chair), the SSS will pick a new committee member for each odd year and the GSS will pick a new committee member for each even year. In this way, a broader pool of committee members can be considered. This new stage of the WJSS officially started on January 1st of 2005.

In 2005, the WJSS committee was comprised of Sameena Salvucci (chair), Bob Groves, and Juanita Lott, and will have existed for four years. Its primary goal, besides the annual distribution of the scholarship, was to improve advertising of the scholarship and general knowledge about the scholarship.

The 2005 winner of the Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship was Layla Parast, The University of Texas at Austin.

(Layla Parast.)

Layla Parast, an undergraduate at the University of Texas, Austin, received the 2005 Wray Jackson Smith Fellowship. She is now a graduate student in statistics at Stanford University. When asked how she used the fellowship money, she recently replied, “The fellowship check went straight to fall quarter tuition at Stanford. Last quarter I took Theory of Probability with Dr. Persi Diaconis, Intro to Computing with Dr. Eric Roberts and Functions of a Real Variable with Dr.Taiping Lui. This quarter I am taking Intro to Stochastic Processes and Intro to Statistical Inference, both with Dr. Romano and Multivariate Analysis with Dr. Owen. … I really love Stanford! Last quarter was extremely difficult but then again I would be a little skeptical if it had been easy.”

On May 9, 2006, Robert Groves, chair of the Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship committee, announced that the committee had selected Maria Ciarleglio as the 2006 scholarship winner.

(Maria Ciarleglio.)

Maria is a doctoral candidate in biostatistics at Yale University. She is currently working on her thesis, which focuses on developing novel strategies for conducting interim analyses in clinical trials. After receiving her degree, Maria would like to work as a biostatistician on VA-sponsored clinical trials. Maria plans to use the scholarship funds to purchase textbooks to further her study of Bayesian statistics in clinical trials and specialized software for implementing adaptive and group sequential designs.

Other members of the 2006 Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship Committee are Juanita Tamayo Lott and Michael P. Cohen.

On April 25, 2007, Juanita Tamayo Lott, chair of the Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship Committee, announced that the committee had selected Romesh Silva as the 2007 scholarship winner.

(Romesh Silva.)

Romesh is a doctoral candidate in demography at the University of California Berkeley. This award provided funds for Romesh's participation at the July 2007 conference, "Recent Developments in Capture-Recaptures Methods and Their Applications," at University of Reading, UK, including presentation of an original paper on estimation of elusive populations and two pre-conference short courses. Romesh is also a presenter at JSM 2007 in the Contributed Session 116 ("Estimating Mortality and Migration") sponsored by the Social Statistics Section.

Other members of the 2007 Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship Committee are Michael P. Cohen and Robert Kominski.

In 2008 the Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship Committee announced that they had selected Kirsten Lum as the 2008 scholarship winner.

(Kirsten Lum.)

Kirsten was a student at American University at the time of selection but will be a doctoral student at the George Washington University this fall. This award provides funds for Kirsten’s participation in the ENAR/IBS 2009 Spring Meetings in San Antonio, TX. She will be presenting on methods for joint modeling of longitudinal and survival time data. This is joint work with Dr. Rajeshwari Sundaram and Dr. Germaine Buck Louis, both from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). She began working on this project as an intern at NICHD in the summer of 2007. Kirsten is also a presenter at JSM 2008 in Session 267 (Methods for Survival Time Analyses). She will speak on "Joint Model of Longitudinal Binary Data with Discrete Survival Time." Members of the 2008 Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship Committee are Michael P. Cohen (chair), Robert A. Kominski, and Stephen L. Campbell.

(Jenna Fulton.)

The 2009 Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship winner is Jenna Fulton, a matriculating doctoral student in the Joint Program in Survey Methodology at the University of Maryland. Her training and related experiences are in the principles and practices of survey research with a special interest in federal statistical surveys. Jenna has worked as a research assistant at the University of Maryland on the American Time Use Survey and was a teaching assistant for the Survey Fundamentals course during 2008 -2009 academic year. Jenna was a summer intern during 2009 with the Agency for Health Research and Quality where she assisted with the agency’s research. Jenna utilized the scholarship to expand her knowledge and explore opportunities for improving the quality of survey data collected by federal agencies by attending short courses and sessions at 2009 Joint Statistical Meetings. Jenna used the remaining scholarship funds to attend the 2010 American Association of Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) to expand her knowledge on survey research being conducted across the country and interact with experts in the field of survey methodology. Jenna’s interests include measurement error, missing data, survey sampling, and statistical uses of administrative records. The 2009 committee consisted of Robert A. Kominski (chair), Stephen Campbell, and Mark Harris.

(Rebecca Medway.)

At the 2011 JSM GSS Business Meeting the Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship Award was presented to Rebecca Medway, a doctoral student in the Joint Program in Survey Methodology at the University of Maryland. Rebecca has a wide range of experience working in government statistics, including internships at the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Justice Statistics and several years of employment at the Fors Marsh Group, which specializes in federal government consulting. Rebecca’s dissertation research is on the potential tradeoff between nonresponse bias and measurement error when incentives are used, a topic of growing importance in federally sponsored surveys. While most incentives research focuses narrowly on the impact that incentives have on response rates, her work broadens the focus to take account of measurement error. This includes investigating how incentives influence the way that respondents complete the survey task and measuring the impact of the incentives on respondent effort. Rebecca’s other areas of interest include web survey design, mixed mode surveys, and questionnaire design.

Rebecca will use the Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship to attend the 2012 Joint Statistical Meetings. She will present findings from the second of the three studies in her dissertation research. Members of the 2011 Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship Committee were: Mark Harris (Chair), John Czajka, and Polly Phipps.

(Julia Shin-Jung Lee.)

Julia Shin-Jung Lee, a Ph.D. candidate in the Program in Survey Methodology at the University of Michigan, is a winner of the 2012 Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship.

Julia has experience with numerous large government survey data sets, including the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE), National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), the Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS), and the American Community Survey (ACS). Julia’s dissertation research focuses on strategies for survey design and data collection using external benchmarks with the goal of improving respondent representativeness and reducing nonresponse bias. Her research addresses major concerns in the survey field at present, resulting from drastic declines in response rate. The specific aims are to increase respondent representativeness at the survey design and data collection stages using external benchmarks and modified propensity score methods, to investigate the nature of nonresponse and its effects on data quality, and to develop improved nonresponse adjustment procedures that obviate the need for non-respondent information.

Julia will use the Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship to attend the 2012 Consumer Expenditure Survey Microdata Users’ Workshop and the 2012 National Conference on Health Statistics this summer in Washington, DC. She will present in both meetings to share her findings with other researchers.

Members of the 2012 Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship Committee are: John Czajka (Chair), Polly Phipps, and Linda Gage.

(John Tipton.)

John Tipton, a doctoral student in the Department of Statistics at Colorado State University, is a winner of the 2012 Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship.

John has a wide range of experience working with government statistics. He worked at the U.S Department of Agriculture performing computer simulations and editing research articles for publication in 2002 and 2003. In 2004 he had a National Science Foundation fellowship measuring nematode body size and analyzing those data. From 2009 to the present he has collaborated with researchers at the U.S. Forest Service to develop a pilot study of tree canopy cover using Random Forests modeling techniques. John’s dissertation research addresses how to incorporate model-based estimates into forest inventory survey estimates. His proposal is to extend the endogenous post-stratified estimator (EPSE) methodology to include the highly flexible machine-learning tool Random Forests in a simulation study to increase the efficiency of survey sampling estimates used for modeling data. Another goal is to reduce the cost of large-scale sample surveys and produce estimates that are easy to interpret and to use.

John plans to use the Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship to fund trips to the 2012 Joint Statistical Meetings and the 2012 Forest Inventory and Analysis Symposium where he will disseminate the results of his research and analysis.

Members of the 2012 Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship Committee are: John Czajka (Chair), Polly Phipps, and Linda Gage.

(Yuning (Jess) Chen.)

Yuning (Jess) Chen, a doctoral student in Economics at American University, is the winner of the 2013 Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship.

Jess earned her Bachelors in English at Southwestern Christian University in 2009. She then attended the University of Oklahoma, where she studied advanced math and statistics. In August, 2010, she began her PhD program in economics at American University. Her advisors applaud her statistical skill, hard work, initiative, and professionalism.

Jess has contributed her knowledge of mathematical statistics, survey design and data analysis to several on-going international economic research projects. As a research fellow at the International Economic Development Council, Jess conducts economic development research funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Energy Foundation. As a research assistant at American University, she digitizes data from Depression-era bankruptcy records stored at the National Archives of Atlanta through funding from the National Science Foundation.

Her dissertation employs spatial analysis methods to detect possible geographic clusters of Hodgkin’s lymphoma in the United States. To do this, she proposes to derive and implement a new test statistic, or local indicator of spatial association, to detect local clusters of Hodgkin’s disease using data from the National Program of Cancer Registries (NPCR). A restricted-use dataset, Jess will access these data through an onsite data user agreement with the National Center for Health Statistics.

Jess plans to use the Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship to defray some of the costs of her graduate school tuition as she completes her dissertation.

Members of the 2013 Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship Committee are: Polly Phipps (Chair), Linda Gage, and Jennifer Park. Join us in congratulating Jess on her accomplishment.

Mauricio Sadinle, a doctoral student at Carnegie Mellon University, is the winner of the 2014 Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship.

Mauricio graduated with a bachelor’s degree in statistics from National University of Colombia at Bogota in 2009, and is currently a fourth year Ph.D. student in statistics at Carnegie Mellon University, under the supervision of Stephen E. Fienberg. His dissertation focuses on developing record linkage techniques for combining multiple data files in such a way that the uncertainty from the linkage stage can be carried through subsequent analyses of the linked files. Examples of such analyses include the estimation of population sizes using capture-recapture/multiple-systems estimation and regression analysis when the response and explanatory variables are in different files.

Mauricio’s dissertation research will, in and of itself, affect government record linkage practice. As part of the NSF-Census Research Network (NCRN) he has been granted sworn status at the U.S. Census Bureau, thus enabling him to focus on several possible applications of his ideas to bureau problems and datasets. Most recently, Mauricio has turned his attention to how his methodology can be adapted to linkage of census, ACS, and coverage measurement survey data. He has formulated a new and truly innovative approach to de-duplication and record linkage using ideas adapted from network modeling.

Mauricio plans to use the Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship to support his work constructing hand-matched datasets for evaluating and assisting probabilistic record linkage methods.

Members of the 2014 Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship Committee are: Linda Gage (Chair), Jennifer Park, and Joseph Salvo.

Government Statistics Section pages prepared by:     Bill Wong.
Last updated:     February 9, 2015.