2020 in Review; 2021+ in Preview

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2020: A year for the record books

As long as you wear a mask, spend less than 15 minutes reading this message and wash your hands after then you shouldn’t have to worry about COVID-19 exposure here.

John Bailer with COVID-19 mask

This has been a year for the record books, and all aspects of our lives have been impacted. While we miss the face-to-face meetings of the past, we now conduct our work using new tools and technology.

Getting ready for WSC 2021

By the time this post appears, all of the proposals for invited paper sessions will have been received. Deciding to opt for a virtual WSC in 2021 was not an easy decision but the recent surge in cases around the world suggests that, even with vaccines emerging, we are not done with this pandemic. One exciting aspect of a virtual meeting is the option to consider different meeting modalities. For example, there is now an opportunity to invert or flip a session. Some sessions will be constructed to have pre-recorded talks with attendees encouraged to view the talks prior to the WSC and then the WSC live-streamed sessions will be a short recap by the speakers followed by a discussion among the attendees and the speakers. Virtual gatherings provide opportunities for new structures. We also are scheduling live-streamed session times to be at different times throughout the week. We want to allow for our colleagues in Sydney, Seoul and Seattle to be able to participate in some time blocks that are when they are typically awake.

Keeping up with the news

Keeping up with the News: the Statisticians React to the News blog continues to be an outstanding resource that shares the perspective of our colleagues from around the world. Recent posts include reflections from colleagues based in Africa, Europe, South America, Oceania and North America. These posts are of general interest for our community. In addition, there are aspects of this blog that could be integrated in classrooms and other discussion fora. I encourage you to read these posts, add your comments, and, if inspired, volunteer to contribute your voice to this blog.

ISI & Associations webinars

Professional development is online and archived: the ISI Webinars Library started this year and continues to evolve into an outstanding resource. There are short courses and webinars. There are opportunities to learn more about a particular tool for a particular analysis (e.g. R for time series) and there are opportunities to consider what actions we need to take as statisticians to protect and to promote our discipline (e.g. speaking out against the misuse of statistics). I am grateful to the colleagues who present and organize these opportunities.

The future

In the near term, it is time to nominate colleagues for recognition. ISI and Associations sponsor a number of awards, and I encourage you to submit your nominations for various prizes including:

Professional societies offer an opportunity for connection and community. Please encourage your younger colleagues and students to join ISI as regular members and invite you to sponsor your accomplished, senior colleagues as elected members. Expanding our community helps to promote our discipline around the world.

A virtual conference will not succeed without participants. Please register for the WSC 2021 and encourage colleagues and students to do the same. The registration fees were set at a level well below face-to-face conferences and at a low level for student participation.

The impacts of a pandemic 2020 have been dramatic. I believe that ISI has been resilient in responding to these impacts by  innovating to produce new resources and reimagining to enliven old structures. I am proud of how members and staff of ISI and ISI Associations have responded to the challenges of 2020.

Best wishes for a healthy
and happy 2021

John Bailer (@john_bailer)
ISI President
09 December 2020

This post is written by an author or authors in their personal capacity and in no way represent the view of the organisations, universities, governments, or agencies where they are employed or with which they are associated, or the views of the International Statistical Institute (ISI).

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