ASA Headlines

Data Science Tops List of Fields with Massive Potential

eCampus News examines three burgeoning fields of study, and data science comes in at number one for a field of study that leads to a "future-ready" career. The article, which considers data science a "continuation of some of the data analysis fields such as statistics, data mining, and predictive analytics," compiled data from a number of job-hunting and career services websites. Referencing the increasing demand for statistics and huge growth in statistics degrees, it serves as a helpful tool for students thinking about postsecondary opportunities. It also highlights areas in which colleges and universities could expand their focus on data science.

Four Statisticians Elected Members of the National Academy of Sciences

The American Statistical Association congratulates the following four ASA members, who were elected members of the National Academy of Sciences:

Steven Evans of the University of California at Berkeley
Susan Murphy of the University of Michigan
Larry Wasserman of Carnegie Mellon University
Nancy Reid of the University of Toronto

ASA Mourns Loss of Ingram Olkin

ASA Mourns Loss of Ingram Olkin

The ASA community mourns the passing of Ingram Olkin of Stanford University on April 28. Born in 1924, Olkin was a mentor, friend, role model, leader, and legend in the statistical community and beyond. Indeed, many of those whose lives he touched gathered at JSM 2014 in Boston to enthusiastically celebrate his birthday. In this 2014 Amstat News piece about his nonagenarian birthday, he expressed no regrets: "I was blessed in my career. I had good mentors and colleagues and super students. It's not clear to me what I could have done differently to improve on any of those because it is your teachers, colleagues, and students—your friends—who become important in your life. I've been fortunate to have a super group in each of those categories." The statistical community was blessed many times over by Olkin's extensive influence and presence. The ASA leadership and staff extend their condolences to his family. Ingram Olkin was featured in two videos in ASA's Distinguished Statistician series. One is a conversation with Dr. Olkin discussing his career in statistics. A memorial service is being planned for July 10 in Palo Alto (details not yet available).

Biostatistics, Statistics Top List of Best Graduate Degrees, Jobs

‘Tis the season for graduation ceremonies, but more important than the cap and gown is the degree. Writers at Fortune magazine and researchers at the career guidance website PayScale remind us that some graduate degrees are better investments than others. Topping their list of best graduate degrees this year is a master's in biostatistics, followed by a master's in statistics. Beyond degrees, statistics tops the list of best jobs, too. According to, the best job of 2016 is data scientist, while statistician comes in at number two.

ASA Is Official Sponsor of 2016 Data Science and Advanced Analytics Conference

Call for papers deadline is May 20

The ASA will sponsor the 2016 Data Science and Advanced Analytics (DSAA) Conference, to be held in Montreal October 17-19. DSAA, which had its inaugural conference in 2014, is organized by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Computational Intelligence Society (CIS). CIS representatives invited the ASA to suggest keynote speakers, panelists, and session chairs for the conference and to cosponsor DSAA 2016. Since the ASA recognizes statistics as one of three foundational areas of data science, we encourage you to consider submitting a paper for DSAA 2016. The deadline is May 20.

ASA Board Approves Resolution: ASA Will Not Sign Contracts for Meetings in Any State with Discriminatory Laws

In response to recent laws passed in North Carolina (NC) and Mississippi, the ASA Board of Directors on April 8, 2016, adopted the following resolution:

"The ASA Board of Directors resolves that the ASA will not sign contracts for meetings in any state that passes laws that discriminate against individuals based on gender, sexual orientation, disability, race, ethnicity, religion, age, national origin, gender identity or expression, veteran status or other protected status."
This resolution reinforces a previous statement on discriminatory laws issued by the ASA in April 2015.

The ASA's upcoming Women in Statistics and Data Science Conference scheduled for October 20-22, 2016, will remain in Charlotte, NC, as the contracts associated with that event predate the NC law. Read more

Montserrat Fuentes: Latest Statistician Named Senior University Administrator

The statistical community congratulates Montserrat Fuentes for being named dean of the Virginia Commonwealth University College of Humanities and Sciences. Fuentes joins a growing list of statisticians in senior university administration positions that includes a university president.

ASA to Host Two-Day Workshop for Department Chairs

The ASA is planning a two-day workshop for department chairs July 12-13, 2016, in Alexandria, Virginia. The workshop will have four themes, most in the context of the role of statistics and biostatistics departments in the emerging field of data science:

  • Industry Engagement
  • Undergraduate and Graduate Education
  • Funding Opportunities
  • Supporting and Mentoring Junior Faculty

The organizers also plan ample discussion time throughout the workshop. Sign up at Click here for more information.

19 Statisticians Awarded NSF Fellowship

The National Science Foundation announced recipients of its 2016 Graduate Research Fellowship Program this week. Nearly 17,000 individuals applied for a coveted spot. Of the 2,000 awardees, 19 are statisticians—an increase from 12 last year. Congratulations to the 2016 recipients for expanding the field of statistics!

ASA Vice President Explains Why Polls Get It Wrong

In the heat of state primary elections and caucuses, voting polls are a dime a dozen these days. But, as ASA Vice President Rob Santos points out in the LA Times, their accuracy is waning. The transition from landline to mobile phones means many of us no longer receive polling calls. Of the landline users who do, few want to share information with a stranger. Add in the social media effect—where campaigns are able to connect more conveniently with diverse groups of new or previously disenfranchised voters—and you get poll results that look nothing like their forecast predecessors. Before you place weight on another of what will likely be an endless supply of polls this election season, read this to know why the polls get it wrong.

Two Statisticians Among 2016 Sloan Research Fellows

The 2016 Class of Sloan Research Fellows includes two statisticians: Rina Foygel Barber of The University of Chicago and Zongming Ma of the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School. According to their respective websites, Foygel Barber's research interests are in developing and analyzing methods for high-dimensional data problems and Ma's are in high-dimensional statistical inference, nonparametric statistics, and network data analysis.

U.S. News Rates Statistician as Best Business Job

The latest U.S. News and World Report Best Jobs Rankings named statistician as the best business job. In the overall 100 best job listings, statistician is #17 and, in best STEM job, #3. The statistician write-up quotes ASA member Devan Mehrotra, executive director of the biostatistics department at Merck Research Laboratories: "I absolutely fell in love with statistics. Any real-world problem almost always is going to require some data to be analyzed and interpreted, generating value-added solutions by using statistics. ... There's a tremendous history ... and now more exciting opportunities. It has never been a better time to be a statistician."

Winner of Free ASA Membership

Winner of Monthly Drawing for FREE ASA Membership Congratulations to Kawanna Bright, winner of the April drawing for FREE ASA membership.


Other Recent Headlines

ASA Statement on P-Values Draws Attention

More than 108,000 views of the ASA's Statement on P-Values and Statistical Significance since it was released on Monday, March 7. Many science media outlets have picked up the story. Here are a few examples:

Articles are popping up in more general media, as well. For example, the story was picked up on Inside Higher Education and Vox. And many people are blogging, tweeting, and posting.

ASA members have been posting to ASA Connect or writing directly to ASA Executive Director Ron Wasserstein. We want to hear from you about the statement, and we encourage you to spread the word through your networks, especially to those in your networks who are not statisticians, but are users of statistics.

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