Director's Notes - NISS Parameters Newsletter, May, 2020

Welcome to the Spring 2020 Edition of the NISS Parameters NewsletterJames Rosenberger - Director of NISS

Three weeks after our last Newsletter in mid February, the NISS staff began working from home, as did most of the country.  At that time, I said although the coronavirus was 50 times as lethal as the common flu (influenza), the risk is low if the epidemic can be contained.  Well, since then the epidemic has become a pandemic, and the US now leads the world with over 90K deaths in the US alone and more than 1.5M infected-- largely because in the initial weeks containment measures were not implemented quickly enough in the US.  NISS along with other organizations quickly organized several virtual informative events to provide reliable information about the initial spread of the infections from statistics and epidemiology experts.  See the articles in the Newsletter and the links to the video recordings and presentations slides on our website under 

The NISS Board of Trustees meeting in April was moved from Washington, DC to Zoom. This was the final meeting for three excellent board members, who have each served tirelessly for two terms, Christy Chuang-Stein (formerly Pfizer), Tim Hesterberg (Google) and Tommy Wright (Census Bureau).  The newly elected incoming board members are Karen Bandeen-Roach (Biostatistics JHU), Michael Brundage (Google), and Dan Jeske (UC Riverside), who are featured in the article below.

Actions from the Board:  The board asked for the creation of an ad hoc strategic planning committee, the Future of NISS, to update the Mission Statement of NISS and plan a strategy for the next five years. The original NISS mission, promoting cross-disciplinary cross-sector collaborative research, has largely been fulfilled. 
However, extracting reliable information and from ever larger data sources provides increasing challenges for the statistical community to address, and can NISS expand to fill this need in the data science community. 

Affiliate Program:  The NISS affiliate program organized or sponsored a variety of events and workshops.  Although this spring many regional in-person events were cancelled or postponed due to the coronavirus, we hosted several very successful webinars.  The NISS/Merck Meet-up described the advantages of Bayesian statistics in drug development and the regulatory issues raised.  We organized a joint NISS/ASA Webinar on the role of modeling to forecast the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.  And joint with the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS) we hosted a webinar with Xihong Lin (Harvard) reviewing the lessons learned from the data from China, Europe and the US on the isolation strategies to contain the spread of the virus. 

The NISS academic subcommittee has organized a series of virtual career fairs open to NISS affiliate members to attend live, and the recordings and visuals are made available to the public the following month on the NISS website under News / Meet-up Recordings. These have been aimed at all three sectors: academia, industry, and government, with the 3rd government fair this week, and the  4th industry fair in June. 

The NISS affiliate program has a strong tradition of bringing experts together to address needs of the profession, many on a regional basis. See the for the up-to-date schedule.  If you are organizing a local or regional conference or workshop, please let us know if you would like NISS to co-sponsor it and advertise it on our platform and through our network and affiliates.   

NISS at JSM:  Since JSM has become a virtual ‘gathering’ NISS plans to hold its annual Writing Workshop during the weeks following JSM from Aug 7, through August 14,.  Please refer new researchers to our website to register.

NISS academic affiliation signifies a commitment to outreach with other academic institutions and across government and industry sectors.  See the list of upcoming events in this Newsletter and at  To find more information about our affiliate program, please see our affiliate information page on our website or contact me.  

Jim Rosenberger
Director, NISS