New CHANCE Editor Introduces Herself

Amanda Peterson-Plunkett, senior statistician at the National Security Agency, has accepted the position of interim executive editor of CHANCE magazine for one year. Here, she answers a few questions about herself and her plans for the publication this year.


Tell us a little about yourself. What or who inspired you to study statistics?

I began my career with a BS and MS in applied mathematics, starting out as a modeling and simulation analyst for a Department of Defense contractor. After joining the National Security Agency a few years later, I saw how useful statistics could be and I wanted to learn more. The NSA sponsored me to continue my education, sending me back to graduate school to earn a PhD in statistics.

For 15 years, I've been at NSA, working challenging problems and leading applied data projects (communicating statistical analyses to mostly nonstatisticians). Currently, I wear two hats: as a researcher in a data science division and as an adjunct professor of statistics at the National Cryptologic School. Outside of work, I'm involved in R-Ladies of Baltimore, a local chapter of a global organization to promote gender diversity in the R programming community.

Amanda Peterson-Plunkett


Why did you accept the position of interim executive editor of CHANCE magazine?
CHANCE holds a special place in the hearts of subscribers; it has a long history (going back to 1988) of informing and entertaining a general audience in a statistical application-based context. I wanted to continue that tradition. I see this role as an opportunity to inspire the next generation of statisticians.


As CHANCE magazine editor, do you have specific plans (such as special issues) for the publication this year?
We are planning for a special issue on privacy later this year. It's such a hot topic right now in this era of widespread use of consumer data. The other three issues will be open to topics submitted by the contributors.


How do you see the magazine evolving under your direction?

We created a Twitter account to connect with readers and contributors. Be sure to follow @ChanceStatsMag! We also have a new column called Machine Learning Machine, by Adam Ciarleglio of The George Washington University. I'm also excited to welcome a few new editors: Justin Jacobs, NBA researcher in Houston, Texas, as editor of our sports column; Maria Tackett from Duke University, who will be joining Mine Çetinkaya-Rundel as co-editor of the Taking a Chance in the Classroom column; and Diane Uschner from The George Washington University as editor.