A Time for Reflection and Reinvigoration

Regina Liu

IMS President Regina Liu reports on recent developments, and outlines some exciting new initiatives:

It has been a year of stress and anxiety, with the pandemic overshadowing all aspects of our lives. We have all continued to adapt, from the initial struggles to the present familiarity with all things virtual in our daily routines. The weariness and apprehension from this long confinement has also given us much time for reflection. Re-reading my statement for running for the IMS President-Elect in 2019, when life was so different:

“The IMS is the foremost society in statistics and probability worldwide, and I am deeply honored to be nominated as its President-Elect. Recent years have witnessed a phenomenal expansion of statistics and probability in all directions of data science. With this success come also many challenges and opportunities, which I hope to address if elected. In its broadest sense, data science interacts with many fields in both science and the humanities, and data science researchers can be widely dispersed in academia, high tech and financial industries, or government agencies. The IMS is ideally positioned to provide a common core and a welcoming home for all, including an effective platform for interactions and dissemination of important advances. Simultaneously, a goal of the IMS should be to raise the profile of the field and to ensure an influx of fresh talent to keep it vibrant and dynamic.”

Some of those goals would require extra efforts to overcome the newly confined working environment. But this confinement also provides an opportunity for reinvigorating the IMS! I write this note to report some of the new and ongoing initiatives in this direction. These initiatives reflect continuing progress from previous IMS leadership, dedication from many volunteers, ideas from many of you, and my own long experience as an IMS member, in various roles. I hope they will help engage more of you in the discussions of ideas for sustaining the strength of the IMS, furthering its relevance and prestige, and better serving its members.

IMS NRG (New Researchers Group)

The NRG is the fruit of continuing efforts of several past presidents, starting from Bin Yu to Susan Murphy, to engage and empower new researchers in IMS. Thanks to Alexander Volfovsky and James Johndrow, the NRG is now officially an IMS group with its own bylaws and leadership. The NRG now has representatives on several key IMS committees, as well as designated invited sessions in IMS meetings. James, the current NRG President, will provide more details in the next Bulletin. We have every confidence that IMS will have a vibrant and dynamic NRG.

IMS Watercooler Chat

This is a new support group, covering a broad range of research expertise and career experience, whose goal is to provide support for IMS members, especially New Researchers. We are setting up a new web-link “IMS Watercooler Chat” for people to link up, just by a click, with an experienced mentor to discuss topics in career development, networking opportunities, job change, etc. I thank Jessica Utts for kindly agreeing to lead this effort. More details are forthcoming in the next Bulletin.

Task Force on IMS Awards and Lectures

I would like to thank this task force (Rina Foygel Barber, David Blei, Victor Panaretos, Bernard Silverman [Chair], and Bin Yu) for their work in providing a set of excellent recommendations for raising the prestige and relevance of IMS awards and lectures. The impact of those recommendations will be no doubt far-reaching, so stay tuned!

IMS Membership Survey coming in early March, PLEASE RESPOND!

We designed this survey to update our membership database, and, more importantly, to get your input on how the IMS can better serve its members. I thank Nicole Lazar and Jean Opsomer for their efforts on this project.

I am grateful to the many of you who have worked with me or worked for IMS. I look forward to new ideas and opportunities to work with you to make IMS a society to which we all belong with pride.

Regina Y. Liu

President of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, 2020–2021