National Town Hall on Mentoring and Networks

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Thursday, October 14, 2021
10:00-14:00 PDT | 13:00-17:00 EDT

Two of the most common requests that we receive from the CANSSI community are to establish and sustain a mentoring program and a support network for researchers in statistical sciences. These requests are usually tied to equity, diversity, and inclusion issues.

Like all CANSSI activities, these programs have to be driven by the need of the statistical sciences community in Canada. In this CANSSI Mentoring Panel and Town Hall, we will explore the establishment of a mentoring program and a support network. Issues to be discussed include:

  • Support networks of mentors for specific areas/expertise: What does it look like? What are areas? How does CANSSI administer it?
  • Do we need mentoring that specifically addresses EDI issues? How would such mentoring operate? What are areas/populations/issues that should be considered?
  • Mentoring programs in general: What kinds of mentoring relationships? What areas of professional development?
  • Training for potential mentors: Should we have it and what should it cover? 
  • Interdisciplinary research: What kind of mentoring could CANSSI provide on this topic in particular?
  • Mentorship for graduate students: What does it look like? 
  • How should CANSSI and the EDI Committee of the SSC partner and/or coordinate with other institutions and societies, e.g., NSERC EDI committees, the SSC Women in Statistics committee that support and operate mentoring activities?

The townhall will begin with a panel whose members will describe their experiences with mentoring and support networks. This will be followed by a national discussion.



TimeSession (Click names to see bios)
10:00 PDT / 13:00 EDTWelcome & Overview
10:05 PDT / 13:05 EDTOpening Speaker: Sastry G. Pantula
10:40 PDT / 13:40 EDTBreak
10:45 PDT / 13:45 EDTPanel Discussion:
Moderator – Andrea Benedetti
Derek Bingham
Nadia Ghazzali
Lawrence Mbuagbaw
Joanna Mills Flemming
Michael Wallace
12:00 PDT / 15:00 EDTBreak
12:15 PDT / 15:15 EDTOverview & Goals for Breakout Sessions
12:30 PDT / 15:30 EDTBreakout Sessions
13:15 PDT / 16:15 EDTBreak
13:30 PDT / 16:30 EDTReports & Conclusions
14:00 PDT / 17:00 EDTEvent Ends

About the Panelists & Speakers

Sastry G. Pantula is the Dean of the College of Natural Sciences at California State University – San Bernardino, is nationally and internationally recognized as a leader in statistical sciences. Most recently, he has served as the Director of Data Analytics programs at Oregon State University (OSU). Also, he has served as the Dean of the College of Science for four years at OSU from August 2013 to August 2017, after serving a three-year term as the Director for the Division of Mathematical Sciences at the National Science Foundation. Sastry spent more than 30 years as a statistics professor at North Carolina State University (NCSU), where he began his academic career in 1982. At NCSU, he also served as the Director of Graduate Programs (1994-2002) and the Head of the Department of Statistics (2002-2010). He has been a leader in graduate education, developing partnerships with industry, including GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly, Merck and SAS to develop to increase graduate traineeships and fellowships. In all of his administrative roles, he has focused on enhancing the quality, quantity and diversity within the department, the division and the college. His core values are excellence, diversity and harmony: strive for excellence, enhance diversity and foster harmony.

Sastry is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the American Statistical Association (ASA). He served as ASA president in 2010 and received the ASA Founders Award in 2014.

Derek Bingham is a Professor and Chair of the Department Statistics and Actuarial Science at Simon Fraser University. His research interests are in the area of the design and analysis of experiments and also uncertainty quantification of large computational models. He tends to work on applications in industry (e.g., nuclear engineering) and the physical sciences (e.g., astronomy).

Derek holds a B.Sc. in Applied Mathematics, an M.Sc. in Statistics from Carleton University and a Ph.D. in Statistics from Simon Fraser University. In the past, he was a faculty member in the Department of Statistics at the University of Michigan, a Faculty Affiliate at Los Alamos National Lab and a Canada Research Chair in Industrial Statistics. Derek was also a Statistics Evaluation Group member for NSERC Discovery Grants and recently completed a three-year term as Group Chair of the Mathematics and Statistics Evaluation Group.   

Nadia Ghazzali is a full Professor of Statistics at the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Deputy Director of the Applied Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and former president of the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières. Her research interests include supervised/unsupervised clustering, neural networks, and data science with applications in astrophysics, biostatistics, pattern recognition, and digital imaging. Nadia is the Meetings Coordinator and Chair of the Scientific Program Committee of the Statistical Society of Canada.

She is very involved with women in STEM as Deputy President of the International Network of Women Engineers and Scientists and of the NSERC-Industrial Alliance Chair for women in sciences and engineering in Quebec. Finally, Nadia was a member of the Hassan II Academy of Sciences and Technology of Morocco, of the Expert Panel on Women in University Research Council of Canadian Academies and currently of the national and international juries of L’Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science.

Lawrence Mbuagbaw is a Research Methods Scientist in Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics. He trained at the Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (FMBS) in Cameroon (MD; 2005); the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (MPH; 2009); and McMaster University (PhD in Health Research Methodology; 2014). He is an associate professor at McMaster University where he teaches courses in biostatistics and randomized trials; associate professor extraordinary of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Stellenbosch University; and research methods scientist in the Research Institute of St Joseph’s Health Care Hamilton (SJHH) where he provides methodological and statistical support for other researchers as the Director of the Biostatistics Unit. This includes research questions formulation, study design, data analysis and reporting. He is the principal investigator of numerous research projects covering a wide variety of research designs including evidence syntheses, randomized trials, mixed-methods studies, and qualitative studies. He also the co-Director of Cochrane Cameroon. He has authored over 200 peer-reviewed publications and technical reports for national and international institutions. His research interests are infectious diseases, mother and child health, mHealth, health systems strengthening and the intersection of these fields.

Joanna Mills Flemming is a Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Dalhousie University. Her research interests centre on the development of statistical methodology for data exhibiting spatial and/or temporal dependencies with a particular interest in what is important for marine ecology, and more broadly, fisheries science. 

Joanna holds a B.Sc. in Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science (1995) from the University of Guelph, an M.Sc. in Applied Mathematics (1997) from the Technical University of Nova Scotia, and a Ph.D. in Statistics (2000) from Dalhousie University. She also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Econometrics at the University of Geneva (2002-2004). 

Joanna serves as Chair of the Statistical Society of Canada Research Committee and the NSERC Mathematics and Statistics Liaison Committee, as Associate Director of the Canadian Statistical Sciences Institute (CANSSI), and as an Associate Editor of the Canadian Journal of Statistics. She will also be the Regional Director of CANSSI Atlantic (a regional node of CANSSI) when it launches in Fall 2021.

Michael Wallace is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science at the University of Waterloo. A biostatistician, their work focuses on causal inference, precision medicine, and problems involving complex data such as missing or mis-measured observations or competing outcomes. Outside of research, Michael engages in work promoting equity within academia and the broader community, with a particular focus on accessibility motivated and informed by their experiences of living with severe sight loss. They are also heavily involved in statistical communication, both as an editorial member for Significance magazine, as well as contributing to digital media, radio, and television.

Andrea Benedetti is a biostatistician and Associate professor jointly appointed in the departments of Medicine and Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health. Andrea is an author on over 150 peer-reviewed articles. She is supported by an FRQS Chercheur Boursier, and holds operating funds from CIHR. With Brett Thombs, she directs the DEPRESSD Collaboration ( Her research interests are primarily in statistical challenges in individual patient data meta analysis with applications in depression screening and multiple drug resistant tuberculosis.

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