NISS Receives Five-Year Grant from NSF for Triangle Census Research Network

The National Institute of Statistical Sciences (NISS) and Duke University received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Census Bureau  for the Triangle Census Research Network (TCRN).  The award, one of eight nationwide under the NSF-Census Research Nodes program, is for nearly $3 million and covers a five-year period.  Jerome Reiter,  Mrs. Alexander Hehmeyer, Associate Professor of Statistical Science at Duke, is principal investigator (PI) on the project; Alan Karr, director of NISS, is the co-PI.

The grant will be used to improve how federal statistical (“FedStats”) agencies disseminate data to the public and to researchers. Specifically, the TCRN will enhance FedStats agencies’ capabilities by developing broadly-applicable methodologies in three interrelated areas: (i) disseminating public use data with high utility and acceptable disclosure risk, (ii) handling missing data and correcting faulty data in large complex surveys, and (iii) integrating information from multiple data sources.  The TCRN will also offer educational opportunities to postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and statisticians at federal agencies, helping to train future leaders in data dissemination research and practice.

The FedStats agencies collect data of all kinds that affect many people, including the decennial census, unemployment numbers and the Consumer Price Index.  NISS has been and is in collaboration with many of these agencies, including (in addition to the Census Bureau) the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the Energy Information Administration, the National Agricultural Statistics Service, the National Center for Education Statistics and the National Center for Health Statistics. Among NISS’ achievements are methods used nationally to produce high school graduation rates and crop forecasts, as well as a plethora of techniques and tools that support dissemination of high quality information derived from confidential data.

 By building on these achievements as well as creating new theory and methodology applicable to major Census Bureau data products, the TCRN’s research will improve the hundreds of secondary analyses of these datasets. The interdisciplinary team of the TCRN, which consists of statisticians, economists, political scientists and operations researchers, will use these data products to answer questions in aging, economics, and social welfare that have important implications for policy making.

"The TCRN will improve the way we handle missing and faulty data by integrating paradigms from statistics and operations research," explained Karr, "The team will also develop nonparametric Bayesian approaches for multiple imputation of missing data in high dimensions with longitudinal and multi-level aspects, as well as address central issues in data integration."


About NISS
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, November 14, 2011 by Jamie Nunnelly