National Institute of Statistical Sciences Awarded Grant for Postdoctoral Research in Support of Science Resource Statistics (SRS)

The National Institute of Statistical Sciences (NISS), an independent institute that conducts cross-disciplinary and cross-sector statistical sciences research, has been awarded a $750,209 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish a postdoctoral research program in collaboration with NSF’s Division of Science Resource Statistics (SRS). The two-year program will begin this June.

In support of the National Science Foundation Act legislative mandate to “provide a central clearinghouse for the collection, interpretation, and analysis of data on scientific and engineering resources, and to provide a source of information for policy formulation by other agencies of the Federal Government,” SRS designs, supports, and directs about 11 periodic surveys as well as a variety of other data collections and research projects. These activities yield the materials for SRS staff to compile, analyze, and disseminate quantitative information about domestic and international resources devoted to science, engineering, and technology.

Under the program, two postdoctoral fellows will be appointed for a term of two years, beginning in the summer of 2010. They will be located at NISS headquarters in Research Triangle Park, NC, and will conduct collaborative research with SRS on important problems with multiple dimensions, using SRS data sets. They will be mentored by Alan Karr, director of NISS and PI on the grant; two distinguished survey researchers—Paul Biemer, Distinguished Fellow in Statistics, RTI International, and adjunct professor, Odum Institute for Research in Social Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Jerome Reiter, Associate Professor of Statistical Sciences, Duke University; and SRS personnel.

"The research emphases—longitudinal surveys, model-based methods, capturing and coping with dynamics, creating research datasets and a set of persistent issues such as nonresponse and survey costs—are challenging from theoretical, methodological and implementation perspectives," notes Karr, "The continued vitality of the scientific workforce is essential to US competitiveness in a global economy. These studies will help us have more insight as to where that workforce is headed in the future."

One of several surveys on which the postdocs will work is the Survey of Doctoral Recipients (SDR). This is a long-term, longitudinal survey that collects information on career trajectories of scientists and engineers from the time the doctoral degree is awarded until they reach age 76. A key task will develop methodology to increase usefulness of the SDR, including the construction of weights that support longitudinal analyses using SDR data. The products will be published papers describing both methodology and substantive results of the analyses, as well as datasets that other researchers can access. “Creating these datasets builds on the extensive history of data confidentiality research at NISS,” observes Karr.

In addition to the SDR, the postdocs will work with the Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED), the National Survey of Recent College Graduates (RCG) and the National Survey of College Graduates (NSCG).

The National Institute of Statistical Sciences was established in 1990 by the national statistics societies and the Research Triangle universities and organizations, with the mission to identify, catalyze and foster high-impact, cross-disciplinary and cross-sector research involving the statistical sciences. NISS is dedicated to strengthening and serving the national statistics community, most notably by catalyzing community members’ participation in applied research driven by challenges facing government and industry. NISS also provides career development opportunities for statisticians and scientists, especially those in the formative stages of their careers. In particular, NISS has appointed more that 70 postdoctoral fellows with graduate training in statistics, computer science, mathematics, environmental sciences, psychometrics and transportation. NISS is located in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

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Monday, May 24, 2010 by Jamie Nunnelly