Director's Notes - NISS Parameters Newsletter, February, 2022

Welcome to the Winter 2022 Edition of the NISS Parameters NewsletterJames Rosenberger - Director of NISS

Greetings from the depth of winter in central Pennsylvania at the Penn State NISS Hub. Since Punxsutawney Phil declared six more weeks of winter, we are experiencing it. However, during these cold days, our monthly Career Fairs have provided students with great advice about jobs in different sectors, from academia, government, national labs, and industry. Our newly formed GSN, Graduate Student Network, is growing and planning events of interest to statistics and data science students. Although focused on and planned by our academic affiliates, we have generously opened these events to students in other departments. See below for upcoming events on mentoring, and the annual NISS Graduate Student Network research conference in May.

We encourage more departments to join our network of academic affiliates and urge you to speak to your department head or graduate student advisor to join NISS. Deans love to see departments engaged in outreach activities which provide diverse connections beyond the campus.  See below for upcoming events which members of affiliates can use their affiliate award funds to support students or post docs to attend. NISS provides connections with government agencies and industry which for academic departments is a natural means of outreach for cross sector collaborations. These connections provide new research challenges for Post docs and young faculty members and opportunity to involve undergraduate and graduate students in the research.

As first reported in the January update, the Ingram Olkin Forum (IOF) committee has opened a portal to submit ideas for proposing Statistics Serving Society forums that can be hosted online or in person at an affiliate’s home institution. We are seeking ideas with impact on society where statisticians should be more engaged. Topics such as gerrymandering/redistricting, gun violence, police use of force, algorithm fairness in the use of AI, and a myriad of additional areas are solicited where statisticians and data scientists can have an impact. 

We are also looking forward to holding our writing workshop in person at JSM this year and are planning to host a networking mixer to connect past attendees at our virtual writing workshop events with each other. 

Jim Rosenberger
Director, NISS

Nell Sedransk - Director of NISS - DC

With the promise – well, at least a hint – of progression toward a normal workplace, NISS staff are back in the DC office, with space also occupied by NISS postdocs whose primary workspaces are still closed. The DC office welcomes Lola Stevens who has ably taken over for Candyce Hughes (her fantastic job offer from the DC government was too good to refuse).

“Normalcy” for NISS-DC means amazing progress by the Visualization team of Haley Jeppson (new NISS Research Associate), mentor Heike Hofmann (Iowa State faculty) and Brian Habing (NISS Associate Director for Education Research and U South Carolina). 

The loss of Lee Wilkinson, advisor to the Visualization project, is keenly felt with his enthusiasm and his enormous contributions to communication through statistical graphics. Lee’s commitment to integrity in communication, whether by statistical graphics or by written text, and the breadth of his knowledge and his imagination are truly irreplaceable.  In the same way, the Writing Workshop will not be the same without him. 

“Normalcy” also means at least three active arenas for NISS-DC.  A new series in the NISS Newsletter to highlight technical work by NISS Researchers begins this month with a description of Dr. Ya Mo’s work, taking the reader through the analytic process using differential item analysis to understand how writing prompts function differently for English language learners than for students whose native language is English.  

In 2021, NISS-NCES/IES expert panels raised critical questions, both technical and operational, for “Connecting the Dots” to streamline and coordinate education surveys and assessments.  Next steps are now underway to turn “feasible” into “realistic,”  by defining the required research and by creating templates for the required information.  In Breaking News:  NISS-DC is also getting ready to greet a new Research Associate to work with NASS.

Following on the success and the creative graphics submitted as part of SAID in Graphics, a second contest, SAID in Graphics, II  is now open for student applications with three categories for monetary prizes.

In short, “Normalcy” at NISS-DC means optimism, activity, and creativity, always exceeding the time available.  It is nice to be back!

Nell Sedransk 
NISS Director - DC