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

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

As reflected on this Newsletter cover, NISS continues with numerous activities.   Despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions on travel, we have increased the number of webinars, meetups and forums that NISS offers to our affiliates and to the profession at large.  

After an overview of Essential Data Science for Business, by Victor Lo, we launched a series of tutorials on the top ten data science tools that statisticians need to understand.  The Ingram Olkin Forums designed for Statistics Serving Society have continued with the series of virtual workshops on Unplanned Clinical Trial Disruptions.  A new forum was launched on Algorithm Fairness and Social Justice in September with a follow-up planned on AI uses in banking and lending settings.  An upcoming forum in December will examine the decision-making policies behind the opening and closing of schools, and the impact of these decisions on learning.  In the Spring, we will examine the consequences of the Opioid Crisis coupled with the pandemic, which like gun violence, has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

A new COPSS-NISS COVID-19 Data Science Virtual Seminar Series will begin in December, and feature speakers on the front lines as our nation attempts to contain the pandemic.  With two seminars per month, we will follow the scientific developments of the pandemic and efforts to contain it.  The Penn State hub of NISS will host these seminars on Zoom with assistance from Glenn Johnson, and Associate Director Lingzhou Xue, who serves on the organizing committee with NISS board member Karen Bandeen Roche.  In January the pandemic will also be featured in the NISS-Merck Virtual Meet-up on SARS-COV2 Vaccine Development.

Upcoming professional development events targeting our affiliate members, include virtual career fairs, which address the unique circumstances this year has created.  Future career fairs will feature government and industry positions.  If your department is not already a NISS affiliate, please reach out to me, or Lingzhou Xue, and encourage your department to join.  NISS sponsored and hosted events encourage cross-sector and cross-disciplinary networking. More information about the NISS Affiliate program is on the NISS website.

Jim Rosenberger
Director, NISS

Nell Sedransk - Director of NISS - DC

Even though located at the hub of national events and local demonstrations, NISS-DC is actually thriving.  Operations now integrate work from onsite offices (with careful distancing) and remote environments. 

New Personnel

NISS-DC is expanding with new staff. Brian Habing from University of South Carolina has joined NISS (part-time) as Associate Director for Education Activities and Research.  Alexi Albert has joined NISS (part-time until she receives her Master’s in Data Science in May 2021) as Research Assistant on NCES projects.  Megan Glenn moved from temporary to essentially full-time regular appointment.  Lynne Stokes from SMU, as a NISS Senior Research Fellow, is taking over responsibility for one of the NCES panels.

Significance – statistical and otherwise

NISS-IES White Paper on Significance and Non-Significance is now publicly available on the NISS website together with a companion panel report on Citing Significance.   Much has been written about statistical significance from the point of view of Biostatistics.  However, for social and education science research the role of statistical significance and hypothesis testing differs in some important ways leading to different challenges for accurate reporting. The White Paper examines the notion of significance from a social/education science perspective and the relationship between significance and importance.  The report of the second panel elaborates and provides some recommendations for communicating research results.

Contest in Visualization

On the theory that substance plus statistics equals knowledge, Statistically Accurate Interactive Display (SAID) in Graphics will pair students from social/education science with data science students to create insightful, innovative graphics using education data. (see page 5) Students will start from a publication on national education data, and, given an excerpt from a related data set, use their creativity to innovative graphics that go both above and beyond conventional graphics in the publication.  NISS will award prizes ($$) for the winning team, for a winning individual, and for whoever produces a “Simply Glorious” graphic even if it is unlikely to be a prototype for wide adoption. 

Everyone at NISS-DC is committed to staying safe and well – and wishes the same to all the NISS family.

Nell Sedransk 
NISS Director - DC