Thilaksha Tharanganie, who is a PhD student in the Department of Econometrics and  Business Statistics at Monash University, Australia, wrote to share her experiences from the Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM) on August 2015 in Seattle, USA.

Thilaksha at JSM

JSM is the largest gathering of statisticians held in North America and this time attended more than 6,800 people. This was my first time attending a JSM and I found it a little overwhelming. I was one of the recipients of an Institute of Mathematical Statistics Travel Award, which assisted me with the costs of attending JSM.

The conference was well organised, with many parallel sessions on numerous fields in statistics. I obtained constructive comments on my talk and expanded my knowledge by listening to other presentations. I networked with peers from all over the world.

For me, the highlight of attending the JSM was to attend the 2015 NISS/ASA/IMS Writing Workshop for Junior Researchers. I learnt effective writing techniques on how to write journal articles and grant proposals. Most importantly, the feedback I received on my writing sample from the mentor, Professor David Banks from Duke University, was invaluable. In addition, I was selected to attend the Mentoring Workshop and had been matched with a mentor, Ms Erin Tanenbaum, who is a Senior Statistician in the Statistics and Methodology department with NORC at the University of Chicago. I am immensely grateful to her for all her advice and for sharing this mentoring experience.

During the conference, I also attended the IMS Presidential Address and Awards Ceremony, which was open to all delegates.

Overall, my participation in this 2015 JSM opened up doors to the wider world. My humble thank you to the IMS for supporting me to attend this largest statistical conference in the world. It is really worth attending the JSM!

Thilaksha was able to travel to attend JSM and present a talk thanks to an IMS Travel Award. IMS Travel Awards fund travel to IMS sponsored or co-sponsored meetings, for New Researchers (within five years of PhD), with priority given to those from reduced dues countries. The deadline is February 1, 2016: see for details of how to apply.