Katherine Ensor Elected 2022 ASA President

Katherine (Kathy) Ensor, Noah G. Harding Professor of Statistics in the George R. Brown School of Engineering at Rice University in Texas, has been elected the 117th president of the American Statistical Association (ASA). She will serve a one-year term as president-elect beginning January 1, 2021; her term as president becomes effective January 1, 2022.

The ASA membership also elected Matilde Sanchez-Kam, associate director of analytics and informatics in the Office of Biostatistics of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the US Food and Drug Administration, as ASA vice president. Sanchez-Kam’s term begins January 1, 2021.

Ensor said one of her major goals as president is to advance the ASA’s data science footprint. “Data science methods integrate the best of statistical thinking and practice,” she said, noting that many universities are already investing in their statistics departments to build top data science programs. “ASA has an opportunity to work with university leaders to articulate the value statisticians bring to their strategic leadership table.” Ensor said.

Katherine Ensor  

Another area of focus for Ensor will be growing urban analytics, a field that combines statistics, local governments and “data for good.” “Our urban environments generate massive amounts of geo-referenced data, allowing us to draw insights on how we work, live, play and learn within our communities,” Ensor said. “Urban analytics requires our best statistical science coupled with a willingness to engage local governments, NGOs and communities to improve quality of life.” Ensor said she would like to see the ASA foster collaborations between ASA members and their local communities.

Leadership has been a consistent theme in Ensor’s career. At Rice University, she serves as director for the Center for Computational Finance and Economic Systems and also oversees development of the Kinder Institute Urban Data Platform, a computing platform and data repository for the greater Houston area. She served as chair of the department of statistics from 1999 through 2013. Ensor looks forward to advancing the ASA’s Leadership Institute, which was established in 2018 and provides training and opportunities for ASA members to develop their leadership skills.

Ensor’s professional service spans many areas, including serving on the board of directors of the National Science Foundation Institute on Pure and Applied Mathematics, as a member of the National Academies Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics, as vice president of the ASA from 2016 to 2018 and as elected representative to numerous ASA sections and councils.

Ensor earned her doctorate in statistics from Texas A&M University and her master’s in mathematics and bachelors of science in education from Arkansas State University. She was elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2013 and an ASA Fellow in 2000.

Sanchez-Kam begins her tenure as ASA vice president after more than 20 years of active service to the ASA. She first became a member as a Penn State graduate student in 1993 and since then has held numerous positions within the ASA, including chair of the biopharmaceutical section, chair of the statistical consulting section and both president and vice president of the New Jersey ASA Chapter.

Since 2018, Sanchez-Kam has been an associate director of analytics and informatics for the Office of Biostatistics at the Food and Drug Administration. Prior to that, she held positions in industry, including nine years as vice president of biostatistics and data management at Arena Pharmaceuticals and 11 years as director of clinical biostatistics and research decision science at Merck Research Laboratories.

Sanchez-Kam earned her bachelor’s in statistics from the University of the Philippines at Los Banos, a master’s in statistics and operations research from Penn State and a PhD in statistics from Penn State.

The ASA membership also elected the following:

  • Alexandra Hanlon, Director, Center for Biostatistics and Health Science at Virginia Tech, as the Council of Chapters Representative to the ASA Board
  • Kate Calder, Professor, Department of Statistics and Data Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin, as the Council of Sections Representative to the ASA Board
  • Bin Nan, Professor of Statistics, University of California at Irvine, as Publication Representative to the ASA Board
  • Jeffrey Dawson, Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs, College of Public Health, University of Iowa, as chair-elect of the Council of Chapters Governing Board
  • Jason Roy, Chair of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, School of Public Health, Rutgers University, as chair-elect of the Council of Sections Governing Board

The entire slate of election results, including officers for each of the ASA’s 27 sections, is accessible here.