Alfred Grant Schissler
Joint Statistical Meetings
July 30th, 2016 - August 4th, 2016
Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM) 2016. Chicago, IL. July 31 – August 4
The annual Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM) is the largest gathering of statisticians and data scientists each year. With over 8000+ attendees, the opportunities for networking, knowledge gain, and dissemination of my work is unsurpassed in our field.
The JSM networking opportunities for students are abundant and well structured. A central goal of many conferences is for researchers to make relationships, find employment opportunities, and develop collaborations. Often times, young professionals and students can feel overwhelmed and have difficulties making first contact with others. JSM works hard to alleviate these issues by structured events, such as the 1st timer activities, a student mixer, dance party, and exhibit hall social events. All of the events are friendly, and experienced JSM attendees are there to provide support and facilitate discussion. Even the most shy, introverted mathematician can make many fruitful connections both professionally and personally. In my experience during this particular gathering, I found at least two potential collaborations and made many contacts with employers with a few offers to come for formal interviews upon graduation.
I always am astounded by the volume and quality of information sharing at JSM. I try to manage my attendance of talks carefully: balancing topics proximal to my field while engaging in talks delivered by statistical thought leaders. JSM offers no shortage of fabulous invited talks featuring the top researchers in their field. My favorite this year was the special session on single-cell RNA-seq data analysis with Andrew McDavid, Rahul Satija, and Stephanie C. Hicks. I recently published a work in this area and I was blow away by the discussion with these world-class researchers. Besides the talks, knowledge can be gained through the offerings of texts and other materials. For example, I was thrilled to purchase a hugely anticipated pre-print edition of Computer Age Statistical Inference by Bradley Efron and Trevor Hastie. These authors have greatly shaped statistical thought over the last 30 years and I even was able to have my copy signed the authors!
Importantly, I was able to present our work in precision medicine. I challenged statisticians to begin thinking about small-sample designs and analysis to innovate the medical system. Small-sample problems are often ignored in statistics due to a lack of tools and motivating data sets. I was pleased with the reception of my presentation and the session chair from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center even expressed interest in our work.
Overall, I am very grateful for my experiences at JSM 2016 in Chicago. A critical and, at times, under-appreciated element of graduate training is the opportunity to meet other researchers and share ideas. I heartily thank all those who make the HE Carter Travel Award possible to develop this important and exciting aspect of graduate education.