Scientific Director Farewell and Hello

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Nancy Reid and Don Estep at CANSSI’s Headquarters

Farewell from Nancy Reid

When I became the second Scientific Director of CANSSI in June, 2015, I was both proud and nervous. Professor Mary Thompson had led the creation and then leadership of the institute with her customary wisdom and diligence, and continuing this was a daunting task. At the same time the importance of statistical science, data science, and big data was more apparent than ever, and attracting attention from nearly every corner of academia, government, and industry. So I felt confident that CANSSI was in the right place, at the right time, to be an important part of the data revolution.

I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish in the short time since CANSSI was a recommendation of the Long Range Plan for Research in the Mathematical Sciences (2013). We have helped interdisciplinary teams in diverse areas of research, including atmospheric science,  glaciology, wildfire prediction, fish stock assessments, statistical genetics, complex surveys, administrative health, neuro-imaging, bioinformatics, finance, climate science, and more. We have provided support across the country for local conferences, workshops, distinguished lectures, summer schools, datathons, and have contributed to the training in collaborative research of students at the undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate level. We held our first retreat, completed our first strategic plan, registered CANSSI formally as a national not-for-profit corporation, established a headquarters in lovely space at Simon Fraser University, and launched a network of regional centres of CANSSI.

I am excited to watch the evolution of CANSSI over the coming years, under the able leadership of Professor Don Estep. It is an exciting time to be a statistical scientist, and CANSSI has an important place in the research ecosystem in Canada and beyond. Our focus on seeding interdisciplinary collaborations with statistical leadership is, I think, unique among statistical research centres around the world.

None of this could have been accomplished without the enthusiastic and dedicated help of a large number of CANSSI supporters. Our Board of Directors, Scientific Advisory committee, regional Associate Directors, and our researchers have all worked hard to make CANSSI a success. Among many statistical scientists to thank I would like to single out John Braun, the Deputy Director, for his vision, dedication, and entrepreneurship. Lori Kroeker is an extraordinary Financial Administrator, who ably oversees the complicated finances of CANSSI, and I am delighted that she is continuing under Don’s leadership. Finally Angela Plagemann, the Scientific Coordinator, is the heartbeat of CANSSI. Her dedication to the enterprise is unflagging, and her willingness to jump in wherever and whenever needed, on efforts as varied as translation, design, communication,  organization, and more, have been instrumental in getting CANSSI where it is today.

Nancy Reid, OC, FRS, Professor of Statistical Sciences, University of Toronto

Hello from Don Estep

Over the last three months, I have been slowly working into CANSSI activities, with the very welcome assistance of the outgoing Director Nancy Reid. It has been a wonderful experience. Everything I have seen – from sitting in on the discussions of the Health Sciences Collaborating Centres (HSCC) at the SSC Annual Meeting to consideration of the most recent round of Collaborative Research Team (CRT) proposals, all of which proposed excellence science – have confirmed my outside impression that CANSSI is a very special and successful collaborative operation. Over the next few months, I plan to visit many CANSSI members and partners with the intention of learning about CANSSI supported activities firsthand and talking with people about how CANSSI can improve its support for the Canadian statistics community.

I look forward to speaking to you soon!

Don Estep, Scientific Director, CANSSI
SIAM Fellow, Chalmers Jubilee Professor 2013-4
Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science, Simon Fraser University

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