Director's Notes - NISS Parameters Newsletter, August, 2019

Welcome to the Summer 2019 edition of the NISS Parameters Newsletter 

This edition of the NISS newsletter highlights many activities that NISS participated in at the Joint Statistical Meetings in Denver.   We began with the Writing Workshop Sunday morning with 24 participants, which ended with a final session on Tuesday morning.  We heard many positive comments from the participants.   At noon on Sunday we hosted the NISS Affiliate Luncheon with two speakers focusing on the issues related to evidence.  Lisa LaVange, ASA Past-President and Professor and Associate Chair of Biostatistics at UNC, Chapel Hill, spoke on Real World Evidence from Real World Data as it relates to drug trials and regulation.  Professor Dan Jeske, UC Riverside, gave a talk on “Technical overview of some of the alternative procedures,” highlighting three papers in the recent special issue of The American Statistician on the recent controversy around p-values.  These related themes on evidence have been the topics of several popular NISS sponsored meet-ups and webinars over the past year.    See previous meet-ups on the NISS website and look for upcoming meet-ups, webinars and other events here

The annual NISS reception, again joint with SAMSI this year, which had been a 15 year tradition, was the setting for recognizing the Sacks Award winner, Professor Jeremy M.G. Taylor, for outstanding cross-disciplinary research and the NISS Distinguished Alumni Award winner, Professor of Biostatistics Haibo Zhou.  In addition, two well deserved NISS Distinguished Service Awards were presented to Mary Batcher and Nell Sedransk for their outstanding service to NISS over the past years; Mary for six years as a board member and board chair, and Nell for more than a decade of service in several roles:  as NISS associate director, NISS director and now continuing service as director of the DC office, and a mentor to postdocs and research associates.  See the stories and photos in this newsletter

A new activity for NISS - in the planning since last fall - was to organize a series of forums on important topics under the theme of Statistics Serving Society.  This activity emerged from a committee composed of long time supporters of NISS, chosen and named in honor of Ingram Olkin.  They were selected to discuss how we could create an endowment fund to honor Ingram Olkin, who was an early proponent and instrumental in the founding of NISS, and who had a long career in support of innovative statistical work and mentoring both junior colleagues and women to advance their careers.  Creating the Ingram Olkin Forums on the theme of Statistics Serving Society was the outcome.  The topic of the Inaugural Ingram Olkin Forum was:  Gun Violence – The Statistical Issues, which was held in Alexandria, VA, on June 26-27, 2019.    The details are also highlighted in this newsletter, and the presentation slides and videos are linked on the NISS website.  The Ingram Olkin Fund committee is considering other important current topics, where statisticians and data scientists can provide important contributions.  If you wish to contribute ideas, join the committee, or donate financial support, please be in touch with me.  

The 2018 Sacks Award winner, Professor G Jogesh Babu, Penn State, presented an invited talk in the NISS sponsored invited session on astronomical challenges at JSM, titled “Statistical Challenges of Pulsar Timing.”  The session included three other researchers working in the area of Astrostatistics.

The NISS affiliate program strives to serve the community by co-sponsoring numerous regional activities for our affiliate members, who can participate and utilize their affiliate award funds to bring people together.  NISS affiliation demonstrates a commitment to outreach with other academic institutions and across government and industry sectors. The cost of an academic affiliate membership can be partially utilized as travel expenses and registration at NISS-sponsored events for faculty and graduate student participants, who build their career network by engaging in these activities.  See the current list in this Newsletter, and continuously updated at  If you would like more information about our affiliate program, please see our affiliate information page on our website or contact me.  


by Jim Rosenberger
NISS, Director