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November/December 2013


Seeking Award Nominations
Nominations for 2014 Gertrude M. Cox Award

The Gertrude M Cox award was established in 2003 through a joint agreement between the Washington Statistical Society (WSS) and RTI International.

The award annually recognizes a statistician in early to mid-career (less than 15 years after his/her terminal degree) who has made significant contributions to one or more of the areas of applied statistics in which Gertrude Cox worked: survey methodology, experimental design, biostatistics, and statistical computing.

The award is in memory of Gertrude M. Cox (1900-1978), American Statistical Association President (1956) and a founder of modern statistics. In 1945, Dr. Cox became director of the Institute of Statistics of the Consolidated University of North Carolina. In the 1950's, as Head of the Department of Experimental Statistics at North Carolina State College, she played a key role in establishing Mathematical Statistics and Biostatistics Departments at the University of North Carolina. Upon her retirement from North Carolina State University in 1960, Dr. Cox became the first head of Statistical Research Division at the newly founded RTI. She was a founding member of the International Biometric Society (IBS) and in 1949 became the first woman elected into the International Statistical Institute. She served as president of both The American Statistical Association (1956) and the IBS (1968-69). In 1975 she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

The award is presented at the WSS Annual Dinner, usually held in June, with the recipient delivering a talk on a topic of general interest to the WSS membership before the dinner.

This award is made possible by funding from RTI International, and the recipient is chosen by a six-person committee — three each from WSS and RTI. This year's committee consists of WSS President Nancy Bates (co-chair), Past President Keith Rust, and President-Elect Diane Herz; and Safaa Amer, Phil Kott, and Karol Krotki (co-chair) from RTI.

The award includes a $1,000 honorarium, travel expenses to attend the WSS Annual Dinner, and a commemorative WSS plaque. Past recipients, in chronological order: Sharon Lohr, Alan Zaslavsky, Tom Belin, Vance Berger, Francesca Domenici, Thomas Lumley, Jean Opsomer, Michael Elliott, Nilanjan Chatterjee, Amy Herring, and Frauke Kreuter. Please email your nominations to Karol Krotki (kkrotki@rti.org) by February 28, 2014 with a supporting statement and CV (or link).

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Kathy Robens

WSS Member In The Spotlight
Meet WSS Member Kathy Robens

1. Where do you work and what do you do?
I am a Nationally Board Certified Teacher and currently teach advanced and introductory statistics at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, MD. Blair has approximately 2,800 students from over 75 countries with roughly 35% eligible for free and reduced lunches. I incorporate professional development experiences into my lessons and encourage change that deepens statistical understanding. Currently I am also a participating teacher in the Baltimore Excellence in STEM Teaching (BEST) Project at Towson University this year with grant funds from NASA.

2. What attracted you to your current position?
I was inspired to teach math by my 7th grade math teacher who in her pink chiffon dress, pink hose, and pink shoes read Flatland to us at the end of class. While I love the beauty of pure mathematics, statistics' rich application in various fields, allows me to explore many topics of current interest with my students.

3. Finish this sentence: "I joined WSS to..."
...become aware of area presentations, events, and people from our diverse community of practitioners who use statistics. I like to increase my knowledge of how statistics is used in different, real world contexts which is not typically available to me from within the school system.

4. What is the most interesting statistical project you have worked on recently?
I analyzed experimental data at the National Institutes on Drug Addiction (NIDA) in Baltimore this summer. The research determined the effect of nicotine on cognition for different groups of cigarette smokers: patients with schizophrenia, patients dually-diagnosed with schizophrenia and drug abuse or dependency, and healthy controls. I was a teacher-intern at NIDA as part of the BEST Project.

5. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
I would like to become involved in projects incorporating statistical analysis concerning social or educational concerns, or perhaps work as an educational consultant, or maybe return to teaching at the college level.

6. Describe yourself in 3 words.
Perceptive, tenacious, and responsible.

7. Finish this sentence: "On an ideal Saturday, I would..."
Rise early, sip freshly made hot coffee then go for a walk while listening to a book on tape. Spend the day researching, reading and/or, analyzing a current interest and find excuses to go outside and arrange to meet friend for lunch. During the evening I would go out to dinner with my husband and perhaps another couple and see, for example, a Mark Morris dance concert.

8. What is your favorite meal or local restaurant?
My favorite meal at the Shed in Santa Fe, NM is having two, blue corn cheese enchiladas (flat, no egg) smothered with red chile preceded by a margarita and followed by a decadent mocha cake. Sadly, the locally named Santa Fe Cafe in Rosslyn recently closed so nothing here comes close to the real thing.

9. Have you had any great career mentors? If so, what made them great?
Many people have played important roles in helping me at particular junctures during my careers. As an undergraduate math major at the University of New Mexico, Elizabeth Waters at 63 years-old, introduced me to dance and set in motion my first, 20 year career in modern dance: she changed my concept of what was possible. Dan Rudolph, one of the world leaders in ergodic theory was a pretty good dancer for a mathematician, a friend, and an occasional dance partner. He encouraged my transition back to math—I hope I made a pretty good mathematician for a dancer!

Others include David Stein, a veteran statistics teacher at Blair who welcomed my questions when I first started teaching statistics; and Julie Damico who accepted me into the BEST Project so I could experience how statistics is actually used in a real world setting dealing with questions and issues not in a text book.

10. Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I am just so happy this group exists! Although my teaching schedule allows me to attend only a few seminars during the year, I enjoy having access to seminar abstracts and share this content with my students. I would love to host a round table discussion of area statisticians at my school so students improve their level of quantitative literacy.

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Be Informed And Get Involved!
WSS and ASA Bring the Meeting Within a Meeting to Washington
Mark Otto (USFWS and WSS Quantitative Literacy Committee)

MWM logo

The Meeting Within a Meeting (MWM) statistics workshops explore how teachers can inspire growth in statistical literacy and thinking in their students. This year the MWM covered the statistical part of the Common Core curriculum and GAISE Pre-K-12 Report that asks students to formulate questions; collect, organize, analyze, and draw conclusions from data; and apply basic concepts of probability. Since its inception in 2007, the MWM statistics workshop for K-12 teachers was part of the Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM). The teachers could take advantage of the other talks and vast resources at the rest of the JSM. This year however, because the JSM was held in Montreal with different educational standards and language, the MWM took place in Washington, DC—a meeting not within a meeting.

The American Statistical Association (ASA) education director, Rebecca Nichols, suggested that the Washington Statistical Society (WSS) collaborate to hold the meeting in the Washington Area. The ASA offices in Alexandria would be a convenient, accessible meeting site. Dhuly Chowdhury, the WSS Quantitative Literacy Chair, asked for sponsorships for local teachers. Because she got quick support from the WSS board, Washington became the most likely site for the workshop. The Quantitative Literacy Committee contacted the Prince William, DC, Fairfax, Alexandria, Arlington, Montgomery, Prince George's, and Loudoun school districts, finding school starting dates and helped with outreach for the workshop. The meeting dates were squeezed in between the JSM, the ISI meeting, and the start dates of area schools.

The participants came from as far away as Richmond and Spotsylvania in Virginia, Delaware, and Vermont. The ASA hosted participants representing a mix of math and science teachers, and a few educational policy makers. There were even two math education professors from the Vermont Mathematical Institute, Bob and Judy Laird. They are part of a program that helped design an effective K through 12 Math and Statistics curriculum. The WSS sponsored the 40 local teachers by reimbursing their $50 registration fees and provided a free one-year membership in the WSS.

The lectures, exercises, and discussions were enthusiastic and lively. Many said that they were glad to have the Core (and Virginia equivalent) Standards laid out so well and to have actual exercises on applying them. The note book along with all the presentations also had a wealth of ASA Quantitative Literacy Resources and referred to other online materials.

Jerry Moreno (John Carroll University), Katherine Halvorsen (MWM Program Chair, Smith College), and Patrick Hopfensperger (ASA/National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Joint Committee Chair, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) presented most of the material. They started with the concepts and how statistical concepts are built on through the grades. Moreno walked through categorical analysis and 2 by 2 tables. He used them to implicitly show marginal and conditional probabilities. In the exercises he would ask, "Now how would a seventh grader say that?" It made us think how our students were processing the material. For some science teachers the concepts were new, so they had to stretch to understand the material themselves as well as figure out how they would present it to their students.

Hopfensperger worked through the high school material. He used examples from his own classroom experience. He talked about students having to be tested for AIDS to play sports. He made up an example of 1 in 1,000 actually having the disease, the test detected all that had the disease but also falsely detected one percent that did not. I'll leave it to you to figure out the chance his student had of getting a positive HIV test. I tried to figure out the inverse probability while Hopfensperger more simply used a 2 by 2 table. The real life result was the student could not play football because he could not afford the secondary test. We got more than a statistics lesson.

Katherine Halvorsen, among other things, explained statistical inference using randomization tests. The tests randomly assigned the independent variable labels to the dependent variables. The results of these simulations become the null distribution. We can then see where the original statistics fall in the null distribution. Having to create a distribution gave a much better grasp for a test than calculating a t-statistic.

On the first day Mark Otto talked during lunch on how statistics related to the scientific method. On both days, Chowdhury talked about what the WSS was doing in quantitative literacy and how the WSS volunteers might help them. The Quantitative Literacy Committee has been asked to work with special year long class concentrating on their science projects at the School without Walls and with both the teachers and students in Wilson High School in Alexandria to help with science fair projects. One teacher from Dunlap High School wants someone to come in as often as once a month to help with statistics and show students the career opportunities available in this field. The WSS still has support materials for volunteers from the "Adopt a School" program, and from the ASA K-12 statistics education resources (pdf) and career resources online. As these teachers get into the school year, the WSS will be getting more calls for help. If you would like to help out in the local schools, please contact Dhuly Chowdhury (dchowdhury@rti.org, (301) 770 - 8234).

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Be Informed And Get Involved!
Celebrate with the Wikimedia-DC Chapter!!

The Wikimedia-DC chapter is holding a Statistics Edit-a-thon to celebrate the International Year of Statistics. We'll get together to improve articles broadly related to the field of statistics and the official statistical activities such as historical censuses. This event will include training for anyone new to Wikipedia and brief talks on subjects of interest.

To RSVP, ask questions, or get additional information, please visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Meetup/DC/Statistics_Edit-a-thon or email Peter Meyer at econterms@gmail.com.

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Be Informed And Get Involved!
Need Volunteer to Serve as WSS Webmaster

Dan Jacobs has been the WSS webmaster since the 90's. Understandably so, Dan has expressed a desire to step down. The Webmaster has long been a key role at WSS. The webmaster maintains the website and posts materials provided by officer and committees. The webmaster also develops, maintains, and runs the scripts that implement our annual and special elections.

The WSS webmaster should have knowledge of current web technologies and pay careful attention to detail. Ideally, he or she will be familiar with WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, or other content management systems so he or she can help decentralize website maintenance. The webmaster should also know php so she or he can implement, maintain, and improve the scripts we use for elections and other special purposes.

If interested, please contact Nancy Bates, WSS President 2013-2014 at nancy.a.bates@census.gov or 301 763-5248.

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Be Informed And Get Involved!
Join the WSS Meetup

The Washington Statistical Society has begun to use Meetup to help spread the word about WSS events. Members are invited to join at http://meetup.com/WashStat/ for benefits such as:

  • Notices and reminders of WSS events
  • Ability to indicate whether you will attend
  • Opportunity to offer suggestions and other feedback.

Users can specify their preferences for email and other features.

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Be Informed And Get Involved!
Washington Statistical Society's Spotlight on Members Program

The WSS Board of Directors has established a program to highlight members who have made or are making notable contributions to the work of their organization or their professional field of expertise. We know that WSS members are doing interesting work in the fields of statistics, survey methodology, and the social sciences. Through this program, we hope to spotlight the accomplishments of our fellow WSS members.

This is our first request for nominations, to be featured in an upcoming issue of WSS News. We are interested in featuring members at all levels of the employment spectrum including recent graduates, mid-career employees, and those seasoned veterans.

Please feel free to nominate more than one person or a team working together. You may also nominate yourself as well. The nominees must be members of the WSS and not currently affiliated with the Board.

Please provide us with the following information about your nominee or nominees.

  1. Your name, email address, and telephone number
  2. Name or names of nominee(s)
  3. Organizational affiliation
  4. Job title
  5. Their contact information including email address and telephone number
  6. A brief narrative describing the reasons for your nomination
  7. A photo of the nominee, although not required, would be great be greatly appreciated

Please submit your nominations or direct any questions to, John Finamore (jfinamore@nsf.gov), member of the WSS Board.

We look forward to hearing from you.

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Be Informed And Get Involved!
Washington Statistical Society's Spotlight on Members Program

If you missed the Unconference on the Future of Statistics, don't fret! You can watch the event on YouTube.

The Unconference was a huge success, said co-organizer Jeff Leek: "We think the Unconference went amazingly well. All six speakers gave really insightful talks, we had major participation on YouTube and Twitter (the only time I've ever seen more statisticians on Twitter was when Nate Silver spoke at JSM!), and we had a ton of viewers. So overall, it was everything we had hoped for."

All other news are available in the latest International Year of Statistics newsletter at http://www.statistics2013.org/files/2013/11/November-18-2013.pdf. Past newsletters can be reviewed at http://www.statistics2013.org/participant-newsletter- archive/.

— Donsig Jang, WSS Liaison for the International Year of Statistics

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Be Informed And Get Involved!
Latest News on International Year of Statistics

"Optimism" is Theme of the Future of the Statistical Sciences Workshop

Optimism about the future of our discipline and profession and a keen awareness of the challenges ahead were on full display at the Future of the Statistical Sciences Workshop in London last week. The result of this workshop will be a paper aimed at research funders around the world that will summarize the current and near-term future state of the statistical sciences. This paper will be made widely available when it is completed during the first quarter of 2014.

Also available very soon will be video of the workshop's discussions and presentations.

— Donsig Jang, WSS Liaison for the International Year of Statistics

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Student Column

Probs & Stats Brain Teaser #3

Midterms are past us and the December Break is just over the horizon. We all have papers to finish, projects to wrap up, and exams to study for. Break Time! I've dedicated this month's Student Corner entirely to the Probs & Stats Brain Teaser #3. Give your best shot at this crossword puzzle.

Note: It's not just for students!

If you finish it send your solution to me timothy.allen@udc.edu. Answers next month!

See the pdf version of this WSS Newsletter for the puzzle.

Answer to Probs & Stats Brain Teaser #2

There were a couple of ways to solve last time's brain teaser. Congratulation to Michael P. Cohen (mpcohen@juno.com), our WSS Human Rights Chair, for solving it this way:

Problem: Bowl I contains 6 red chips and 4 blue chips. Five of these 10 chips are selected at random and without replacement and put in bowl II, which was originally empty. One chip is then drawn at random from bowl II. Given that this chip is blue, find the conditional probability that 2 red chips and 3 blue chips are transferred from bowl I to bowl II.

Solution: See the pdf version of this WSS Newsletter.

Probs & Stats Brain Teaser #2:

Here's a problem from Hogg, McKean, and Craig 2005 from our Math Stats class: Bowl I contains 6 red chips and 4 blue chips. Five of these 10 chips are selected at random and without replacement and put in bowl II, which was originally empty. One chip is then drawn at random from bowl II. Given that this chip is blue, find the conditional probability that 2 red chips and 3 blue chips are transferred from bowl I to bowl II.

– Tim Allen, WSS Student Representative

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Note From The WSS NEWS Editor

Items for publication in the January, 2013 issue of the WSS NEWS will be accepted until the 15th day of the preceding month.

Email items to wss.editor@gmail.com.

Please submit all materials in MS WORD or plain text.

Please do not submit your items in pdf or include them in the body of an email.

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Click here to see the WSS Board Listing (pdf)
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