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

Welcome to the Spring 2019 edition of the NISS Parameters Newsletter James Rosenberger - Director of NISS

In keeping with our roots in cross-disciplinary research, NISS continues to reinterpret its mission, with a new focus on the important role of statistics in data science. We are therefore very pleased to have two new elected board members, Victor Lo, Head of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence at Fidelity Investments, and Victoria Stodden, Associate Professor at the University of Illinois in the School of Information Sciences.  They greatly strengthen our expertise and connections in this arena. 

Upcoming events co-sponsored by NISS

NISS co-sponsors many regional activities, for which our affiliate members can attend and utilize their affiliate funds for travel expenses. The goal is to bring networking opportunities to our affiliate members, to especially encourage cross sector interactions and collaborations. We invite our affiliates, and prospective affiliates to contact us about upcoming events.  When someone from an affiliate organizes a meeting or workshop the NISS Affiliate Award Funds (AAF) can assist in support of speakers, and other affiliates’ members can use funds from their AAF to pay registration and travel expenses to attend. These funds can support young faculty members, postdocs, and/or graduate students to attend NISS co-sponsored events.  For more information on becoming an affiliate, visit our website:

P-value controversy

NISS has also planned a special Academic Webinar on May 23, to address the response to the ongoing controversy about the use of P-values.  This webinar will report on the recent special issue of The American Statistician (TAS), which published 43 papers in response to the ASA Statement on P-Values and Statistical Significance.  Speakers include the past and present editors of TAS, Nicole Lazar and Dan Jeske, plus Jessica Utts, and Nell Sedransk, who will each present their specific viewpoint.  

Other recent activities

NISS has co-sponsored a variety of regional events for our affiliates.  We recently hosted NISS events in Washington DC, including an R & Spark Workshop in February, see page 6 below.  And we held our annual survey related workshop in March.  See the newsletter for more information on these events completed during the last few months since our last Newsletter.


Last week at a conference in Boston, aimed at the bioinformatics community, I addressed the importance of reproducibility in designing studies and planning the workflow for analyzing these ongoing studies.  Just as important as randomized clinical trials have been over the past four decades, for testing the effectiveness of new drugs and therapies, the emergence of large collections of clinical data, drug registries, and electronic health records, now provide new opportunities for using this Real-World Data (RWD) to test and evaluate both new and existing drug therapies and devices.  These opportunities and challenges were also addressed in our NISS-Merck Meet-ups this past year.  


The annual NISS reception, joint with SAMSI will be held Monday evening, July 29 from 6-8pm.  At the reception, we will announce the Jerome Sacks award for cross-disciplinary research, the Distinguished Alumni Award to recognize a NISS postdoc, and the Distinguished Service Awards.  We invite all affiliates and friends of NISS to attend this event, with announcements and awards presented at 6:30pm.  

Since 2007 NISS with support from the NSF and the statistical societies have organized the annual Writing Workshop for New Researchers at JSM.  We will continue this workshop this year, with presentations by expert writers and former and current journal editors.  Each participant is assigned a mentor.  Please encourage your junior colleagues to sign up for this useful workshop.  There are still available seats.  See page 2 below.

The 2018 Sacks Award winner, Professor G Jogesh Babu, Penn State, will present at a NISS sponsored invited session on Monday afternoon 2:00-3:50 at JSM, titled Statistical Challenges with Astronomical Data.  Other speakers in this session include:  Sara Algeri, U Minn; Chad Schafer, CMU; and Hyungsuk Tak, Notre Dame. 

by Jim Rosenberger
NISS, Director