May 15, 2018

COPSS establishes Elizabeth L. Scott and F.N. David Lectureships

The Committee of Presidents of Statistical Sciences (COPSS) has announced the establishment of two lectureships named after women: The Elizabeth L. Scott Lecture, and the F.N. David Lecture. The lectures, with their associated awards, will be given in alternate years at the annual Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM) beginning in 2019.

This will be the first time the JSM will have lectures named after women. The JSM has been held annually since 1840. It is the largest gathering of statisticians in North American, and one of the largest in the world. Each year there are over 6,000 participants from over 50 countries.

The Elizabeth L. Scott Lecture and the F.N. David Lecture will be included in the COPSS portfolio, which already includes the prestigious Fisher Lecture [given this year by Susan Murphy]. According to Nick Horton, Chair of COPSS, “One of the main tasks for COPSS involves granting awards that highlight the work of notable statisticians. I’m proud that starting in 2019, at least one of the lectures at the JSM will be named after a woman. This is long overdue.”

The Caucus for Women in Statistics (CWS) spearheaded the effort to establish the lectureships, along with the ASA LGBT Concerns Committee, ASA Committee on Women, SSC Committee on Women, ISI Committee on Women, and IBS/ENAR/WNAR.. The COPSS Executive Committee voted unanimously to approve it.

The idea that too few women receive national recognitions for their research and scholarship is not new. The National Science Foundation in 2010 established an AWARDS project “to investigate and improve the process of granting awards and prizes for scholarly achievement” in disciplines like statistics. This project led to many association reforms.

Establishing a new named lecture slot at the JSM for the Scott Lecture and David Lecture is another significant step forward in advancing the statistics profession. It adds a face to the profession’s ongoing and growing commitment to diversity and inclusion. 2018 CWS President Shili Lin remarked: “I’m so excited and grateful that the long overdue recognitions for women in statistics in the form of two named lectures are finally here, and here to stay!”

The new lectures will be given by the winners of the COPSS awards named after outstanding women statisticians: Elizabeth L. Scott (1917–1988) and F. N. David (1909–1993). The two awards are given in alternate years. Both awards have high profiles and are highly sought within the statistics profession.

The first lecture will be the F.N. David Lecture at the 2019 JSM in Denver, Colorado, July 27–August 1. ASA Committee on Women Chairperson Kimberly Sellers remarked: “Already looking forward to JSM 2019!”


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