SAMSI Wraps up 2018 Fall Semester

Ernest Fokoué, a m associate professor of statistics at the Rochester Institute of Technology presents a mini-course at the 2018 Modern Math Workshop in Oct. 10, 2018. He presented an “Overview of Data Science: Regression and Classification” during the two-day workshop.

As 2018 closed, SAMSI reflects on a very productive fall semester.

Since opening programs in PMED and MUMS, SAMSI continues to bring together some of the best minds in applied mathematics and statistics to address modern issues across a broad spectrum of subjects. The institute has either hosted or co-sponsored five different events this past fall that discussed topics such as machine learning, climate, computer-based statistical modeling, using statistics in precision medicine and developing mathematical algorithms to identify gerrymandering in state voter maps.

2018 Modern Math Workshop
SAMSI was a major sponsor for the 2018 Modern Math Workshop (MMW) this past October in San Antonio, TX. The two-day workshop, held annually, focused on encouraging undergraduates, graduate students and recent PhDs from underrepresented minority groups to pursue careers in the mathematical sciences and help them to build mentoring networks.

The MMW featured Javier Rojo, a professor of statistics at Oregon State University as keynote speaker. Mini-courses were also taught by Ernest Fokoué, an associate professor of statistics at Rochester Institute of Technology and Katie Newhall, an assistant professor of mathematics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. These events preceded the 2018 SACNAS National Diversity in STEM Conference.

Lisa Lebovici, a master’s student in statistics at Duke University, presents findings on gerrymandering data from a case involving the state of Maryland, during the Quantitative Redistricting Workshop held at Duke Oct. 8-9, 2018. Valuable information about the elections was presented at this workshop from social and political scientists, lawyers and mathematicians and statisticians.

Education & Outreach and Research Workshops
SAMSI also hosted a workshop for nearly 40 undergraduates in October that supported this year’s PMED program. Students were treated to talks on how statistics and applied mathematics are used in precision medicine. The students were also treated to a panel consisting of postdoctoral and graduate researchers who discussed their journey in academics and how they are preparing for future careers in the mathematical sciences.

October also included a workshop at Duke University called Quantitative Redistricting, that studied how to use statistical data, census research, sociology and computer-based algorithms to identify “gerrymandering,” an issue that affects the election process in states across the nation. Gerrymandering is the practice of manipulating the boundaries of (an electoral constituency) so as to favor one party or class.

The workshop helped to raise awareness of this important issue. The workshop, led by Jonathan Mattingly, Chair of the Department of Mathematics at Duke University, brought together professionals in sociology, political science, law and statistics and computer science to address this issue.

SAMSI also co-sponsored multiple events this fall: The Nexus of Climate Data, Insurance and Adaptive Capacity and the Workshop on R & Spark – Tools for Data Science Workflows.

The R & Spark Course was a two-day workshop, instructed by E. James Harner, a Professor Emeritus of Statistics at West Virginia University. The event was co-sponsored with the National Institute of Statistical Sciences (NISS) that helped to educate students and researchers about R and Spark software.

R and Spark are computing environments used in statistical science to extract data, compartmentalize it and help to develop algorithms to conduct research with the data provided.

Harner provided instruction to a class of more than 35 students and researchers combined. The instruction helped them to understand how to work within the environment and apply what they had learned to further their own personal research.

Finally, the Nexus of Climate Data, Insurance and Adaptive Capacity workshop was another co-sponsored event, made possible by a collaboration of SAMSI, the Reinsurance Association of America (RAA), Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) and the Wake Forest University Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability.

The workshop, which took place in Asheville, NC, was a national, interdisciplinary scientific research discussion on statistical modeling and climate science.

All of these events help achieve SAMSI’s vision to conduct programs that help to connect young researchers from academia, industry, national laboratories and government to address a wide variety of research using applied math and statistical and computer sciences.

Whether working with other entities or hosting events by themselves, SAMSI continues their dedication to serving the science and math community.

Bruce Pitman, a professor of mathematics from the University of Buffalo and a visiting researcher at SAMSI, opens up the MUMS workshop at Gross Hall, on the campus of Duke University in Aug. 2018. Pitman was one of many researchers attending the workshop that focused on the utilization of model uncertainty and uncertainty quantification methods to solve complex problems.

SAMSI Hosts NC ASA Chapter Mentoring and Early Career Development Workshop


By Elizabeth Mannshardt, NC ASA President 2018


**The following is an excerpt from the NC ASA blog. Click HERE to see the full version of this article.**

Sonia (Davis) Thomas, professor of the practice of Biostatistics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, discusses leadership and “Presentation Best Practices” based on her Leadership in Biostatistics graduate course at that institution.

NC American Statistical Association (ASA) was excited to offer the first Mentoring and Early Career Development Workshop for students and early career professionals. It featured prominent statisticians from our community and included interactive sessions on goal-structuring and professional development. Workshop participants also had the opportunity to meet with ASA President Lisa LaVange in a small group setting prior to the NC ASA “Stories of Significance” Fall Dinner that evening, as well as network with the NC ASA community at the dinner.

The workshop was designed to provide a variety of viewpoints on professional statistical careers through a series of presentations as well as interactive sessions to engage participants. These sessions included professional statisticians from a broad range of backgrounds participating in both a professional panel discussion as well as small group focused mentoring with workshop participants. There were also break-out sessions for young professionals on Leadership and Career Next-Steps as well as Mentor versus Sponsor, and for students on Resumes and Interviews and Peer Mentoring. The workshop also designed a series of modules on topics such as Branding, Networking, Goal-Structuring, and The Imposter Syndrome, which included hands-on activities in their Career Development Workbook. The schedule was purposefully designed to intersperse traditional presentations with the interactive sessions and break-out sessions in order to foster engagement and maximize participation. The NC ASA Fall Dinner that evening also provided an opportunity for networking with the larger statistics community.

The ASA North Carolina Chapter is a professional organization composed of statisticians throughout the state who represents the ASA – the world’s largest community of statisticians. Since the ASA was founded in Boston, MA in 1839, the organization continues to support excellence in the development, application, and dissemination of statistical science. The organization promotes the practice of statistics in a wide variety of ways, such as: meetings, publications, membership services, education, accreditation, and advocacy. Their members are worldwide and serve in industry, government, and academia in more than 90 countries. These members help to advance research and promote the practice of statistics in order to inform public policy and improve human welfare.

To become a member, visit the NC ASA website.

Participants of the NC ASA Chapter workshop on Mentoring and early Career Development gather for a group photo on Nov. 30, 2018.