Dr. Katherine “Kathy” Ensor, Noah G. Harding Professor of Statistics in the George R. Brown School of Engineering at Rice University and a 1986 graduate of Texas A&M University, has been elected as the 117th president of the American Statistical Association (ASA).
She will serve a one-year term as president-elect beginning January 1, 2021, after which her term as president becomes effective January 1, 2022.
Ensor earned her doctorate in statistics from Texas A&M in 1986 with a concentration in time series analysis under the mentorship of longtime Texas A&M statistician and Dean Emeritus of Science Dr. H. Joseph Newton. She is a fellow of both the ASA (2000) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2013).
“It is indeed fitting that Kathy Ensor would be elected as president of the American Statistical Association, one of the largest professional organizations in the country,” Newton said. “Not only has she made significant contributions to the methodology of statistics, but she served as head of statistics at Rice University for many years, and she has participated in many interdisciplinary activities at Rice as well as with the Texas Medical Center and the City of Houston. In addition to being an important force in national professional activities, she is universally admired and respected.”
Ensor said one of her major goals as president is to advance the ASA’s data science footprint.
“Data science methods integrate the best of statistical thinking and practice,” she said, noting that many universities are already investing in their statistics departments to build top data science programs. “ASA has an opportunity to work with university leaders to articulate the value statisticians bring to their strategic leadership table.”
Another area of focus for Ensor will be growing urban analytics, a field that combines statistics, local governments and “data for good,” with the goal of increasing collaboration between ASA members and their local communities.
“Our urban environments generate massive amounts of geo-referenced data, allowing us to draw insights on how we work, live, play and learn within our communities,” Ensor said. “Urban analytics requires our best statistical science coupled with a willingness to engage local governments, NGOs and communities to improve quality of life.”
Leadership has been a consistent theme in Ensor’s career. At Rice, she serves as director for the Center for Computational Finance and Economic Systems and also oversees development of the Kinder Institute Urban Data Platform, a computing platform and data repository for the greater Houston area. She served as chair of the department of statistics from 1999 through 2013. Ensor looks forward to advancing the ASA’s Leadership Institute, established in 2018 to provide training and opportunities for ASA members interested in developing their leadership skills.
Ensor’s professional service spans many areas, including serving on the board of directors of the National Science Foundation Institute on Pure and Applied Mathematics, as a member of the National Academies Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics, as vice president of the ASA from 2016 to 2018 and as elected representative to numerous ASA sections and councils.
See the entire slate of election results, including officers for each of the ASA’s 27 sections.
Learn more about Ensor and her research, leadership and ASA presidential vision.
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About the ASA: The American Statistical Association is the world’s largest community of statisticians, the “Big Tent for Statistics.” It is the second-oldest, continuously operating professional association in the country. Since it was founded in Boston in 1839, the ASA has supported excellence in the development, application, and dissemination of statistical science through meetings, publications, membership services, education, accreditation and advocacy. Its 18,000 members serve in industry, government and academia in more than 90 countries, advancing research and promoting sound statistical practice to inform public policy and improve human welfare. To learn more, visit https://www.amstat.org/.