Continuing Strong in 2021

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I decided to review my January 2020 President’s message before writing this message. That message reflected an excitement about the preparation for upcoming in-person conferences. We planned and, ultimately, the coronavirus causing COVID-19 laughed.

We planned and, ultimately, the coronavirus causing COVID-19 laughed.

While the pandemic virus laughed at our plans, we pivoted quickly to achieving our goals albeit using a more virtual way of doing business. This contingency planning has been very successful.

Virtual WSC 2021

To give a quick update on items mentioned last month, our WSC 2021 scientific program received over 200 proposals for invited sessions, and over 50 proposals for short courses were submitted for our upcoming summer and winter schools in statistics.

Photo by vi Media from Pexels

Virtual WSC 2021 preparation is ongoing with the finalization of the platform to host the congress being a main focus in the near term. The Scientific Program Committee is now looking to build an exciting program with rich opportunities to learn and to engage with colleagues from around the world. We are an international statistical organization and our conference will reflect this as evidenced by our plans to have a variety of different time blocks for streaming live content during the congress.

ISI is an organization that continues to evolve with the times as evidenced by our experimenting with new conference structures …

ISI is an organization that continues to evolve with the times as evidenced by our experimenting with new conference structures including an inverted model where some presentations will be viewed off-line and the synchronous congress session will focus on interaction among the session presenters and the audience.


The International Year of Women in Statistics and Data Science (#IYWSDS) continues and will culminate at the WSC in July. ISI has supported, in partnership with LISA statistical laboratory and Nasarawa State University in Keffi, a workshop “Capacity Building on Consulting Best Practices Technique for Women in Statistics and Data Science in Nigeria amidst the COVID-19”. This collaboration between ISI and LISA supported, using the World Bank fund, many other activities directed to support women in Nigeria, Ghana and Pakistan. There have been a number of activities planned by the Associations. For example, ISBIS webinars are part of the “Leading Women in Business and Industrial Statistics” series. One was on December, 1st, and it featured Antonietta Mira and Federica Bianchi speaking on “The Social Structure of Financial Network”. Another ISBIS webinar will be on January 22nd, and will feature Kathy Ensor, -ASA President-Elect and ASMBI Editor, speaking on “Quantitative Finance and the Critical Role of Statistics and Data Science”. Bonnie Ray and Nalini Ravishanker will be speaking in future webinars. TIES had an invited session “Human Health and Environmental Factors (Celebrating Women in Statistics and the Environment)” at their virtual meeting in December with speakers Alexandra Schmidt, Leticia Ramirez, Sophie Ancelet and Michela Cameletti. Delia North at University of KwaZulu-Natal hosted a virtual Women in Analytics event at the end of 2020. Delia North was also a guest on the Stats+Stories podcast that is hosting an ongoing #IYWSDS set of episodes. Other events are being planned including an aspect of the #IYWSDS in the DataFest hackathon. Please let the ISI Permanent Office know if you have events planned. We are happy to promote your efforts.

Contribute to ISI’s strategic priorities

The current ISI strategic plan features four priorities:

  1. encourage statistical communication and networking;
  2. increase the public voice of statistics;
  3. develop statistical capacity;
  4. secure our financial stability.

The careful reader may recognize this is not the first time I’ve mentioned these priorities in previous entries in this column. I’ve celebrated the new blog with Statisticians Reacting to the News and the COVID resources page as efforts to encourage communication and to increase our public voice. I’ve celebrated the webinars library as a resource to assist with capacity building, and the ISI partnerships with organizations such as LISA 2020 as a productive way to collaborate in capacity building. Securing our financial stability will continue to be a priority for the current ISI leadership and for subsequent ISI leadership.

There are many ways you can contribute to the strategic priorities and success of ISI and to the world of statistics. You can contribute a blog post to the Statisticians React to the News. You can look for ways to interact with your community to respond to issues of importance. (I don’t know of any community in the world that doesn’t have a need for better understanding of false positive and false negative errors in screening tests.) You also can contribute to statistical capacity and help secure ISI financial stability. Encourage a young colleague or student to join ISI as a regular member. They will benefit by connecting to our statistical community. Nominate deserving established colleagues for ISI Elected Membership. Make sure to renew your membership to continue your connection to this international community. A strong and growing membership is a foundation for the financial health of a professional society.

Upcoming ISI member survey

The essence of good statistics and good science is learning from data. Your survey responses served as the basis for the 2017-2021 strategic plan. We are planning a new ISI member survey this January to get your feedback and to learn what needs to be reformulated in our strategic plan. We are excited about having you join us in framing and shaping the future direction of your International Statistical Institute.

John Bailer (@john_bailer)
ISI President
10 January 2021


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