NISS welcomes James Rosenberger as new NISS Director

NISS welcomes Dr. James Rosenberger as the new NISS Director, effective from August 1, 2017. The announcement was made by Chairwoman Mary Batcher at the NISS JSM Reception on July 31, 2017. Rosenberger succeeds Dr. Nell Sedransk.

The decision was made after an extensive search process which began in the Fall of 2016. The Search Committee made its recommendation of James Rosenberger as its leading candidate to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees. Speaking about Rosenberger at the NISS reception, Batcher says, "Rosenberger is highly regarded and well-liked in the statistical community.  He has held several leadership roles in the American Statistical Association and is well-qualified to lead NISS through a period of expansion.  His continuing association with Penn State is also valuable." 

Rosenberger is the former Head of the Department of Statistics at the Pennsylvania State University. Under his leadership, the department recruited top-notch faculty who excelled during their time at the university. The department grew in terms of publications, citations, and federal grant support. "Overall the national prestige of the department increased," says, Andrew Stephenson, Associate Dean for Research and Innovation, Penn State University.

Adding, Stephenson says, "Statistics maintained its reputation around campus for outstanding pedagogy and Statistics gained the reputation as being a well-run and highly functional department. Most attribute these successes to Jim's attitude. He saw the role of being a department head as a 'service role'. Jim's a rock-solid guy who always had the best interests of the department in mind."

Echoing Stephenson, David Hunter, Professor and Head, Department of Statistics at the Penn State University, said, "Jim has a strong moral compass and a sense of civic duty that extends to his work.  I really appreciate having him as a colleague, since his previous experience as department head has enabled him to advise me from time to time."

The NISS association with Penn State partly arose because of Jim’s desire to establish several NISS hubs around the country with various themes.  Given Penn State’s multiple strong and highly quantitative social science departments, it's a natural place for a hub with the theme of advancing statistical collaboration in the social sciences, says Hunter.

Rosenberger's research interests include linear models, design and analysis of experiments and bioinformatics and genomics. He is a Fellow of the American Statistical Association (ASA) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and a member of the ASA, AAAS, the Biometrics Society, and the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (IMS).

At the JSM 2016 in Chicago, Rosenberger was honored with the American Statistical Association's prestigious Founders Award recognizing his career-long support of and involvement in the ASA. Speaking about Rosenberger's long commitment of 45 years to the ASA, Ronald Wasserstein, Executive Director, American Statistical Association, says, "I love working with Jim.   He is a thoughtful leader who is committed to the success of ASA and NISS.  Because he knows both organizations well, he is uniquely positioned to further strengthen the partnership between these two organizations."

"I am very pleased to join NISS and look forward to working with our Affiliates to build stronger connections between industry, government & academia about Data Science and Statistics," says Rosenberger. NISS is at a critical juncture, having separated this year from SAMSI, the NSF funded Statistical and Applied Mathematical Science Institute.  For the past decade, SAMSI was housed in the NISS building in RTP and worked cooperatively on workshops and programs.  “This synergistic relationship with shared space and postdocs working together was beneficial, but also caused some confusion in the community about distinguishing their separate missions.  Therefore, creating a separate and distinct mission for NISS is a short-term challenge which we will focus on immediately by hosting events in various locations and building a national network,” says Rosenberger.

Rosenberger succeeds Sedransk who served as the Director of NISS since 2015.  Speaking about Sedransk’s contribution to NISS at the NISS Reception, Batcher said, "During her tenure, Nell led NISS to a solid financial footing, increased the engagement of the Board of Trustees, and provided outstanding leadership to the organization." Nell will continue as Director of the DC Office where she will focus on her projects and working with the postdocs.”

Data Science challenges the field of Statistics to provide new routes to answers in a Big Data world. For NISS the response is the expansion of the leadership team, diversification of the senior expertise and widening the sphere of applications and impact, says Sedransk, adding, "Rosenberger is well-suited to leading this vision as NISS Director from his association with NISS for over a decade, taking on various roles with the Board of Trustees and several NISS Committees as well as from his leadership roles in the Statistics Department at The Pennsylvania State University and from the professional statistics community nationally and internationally."

NISS was founded in North Carolina more than 25 years ago with support from the state and the three universities in the Research Triangle. The organization’s vision was national and in recent years it has expanded primarily in the Washington DC area, with research and policy related activities with government agencies. “My current goal is to expand the outreach of NISS to additional agencies in DC and also broaden the base to additional industry affiliates to provide linkages with the academic community through our affiliates,” says Rosenberger.

Penn State has extensive linkages to the industry through our alumni and existing programs, so Rosenberger has proposed creating an additional hub at Penn State while maintaining the hubs in North Carolina and DC.  Thus, part of the expansion plan is to have a NISS hub at the Pennsylvania State University. "We are excited that Pennsylvania State and Statistics is playing a larger role in NISS," says Stephenson.

Rosenberger is the public face of NISS in establishing new relationships and continuing existing relationships with academic institutions, industry, and government agencies. Batcher says, "We look forward to working with Rosenberger as the NISS Director and together aim to expand NISS geographically and strengthen the Affiliate program. Rosenberger brings the leadership ability, knowledge, and a network of statistical colleagues to meet these opportunities."

Tuesday, September 19, 2017 by Mearl Colaco