A day on Capitol Hill

The following was written by Kimberly Kaufeld, SAMSI postdoctoral fellow.

The American Statistical Association (ASA) and the Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute (SAMSI) paired up to participate in meetings with staffers from Congress and an exhibition for the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) on Wednesday, April 29th in D.C.

The day led off by meeting representatives from Congress to communicate the importance of NSF. Our group consisted of Jessi Cisewski, a former graduate fellow of SAMSI and visiting faculty at Carnegie Mellon University;

three people next to a scientific poster

(L-R) Jessi Cisewski, Richard Smith and Kimberly Kaufeld.

Kimberly Kaufeld, a current postdoctoral researcher at SAMSI ; Richard Smith, the director of SAMSI; and Steve Pierson, Director of Science Policy for the ASA. Together, we had several meetings with staffers from both the Senators and Representatives in North Carolina.

The exhibition in the evening featured science, mathematics and engineering research and education projects supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Over 50 projects were represented, including researchers, students, and educators from across the US, as well as program officers from NSF as well as representatives of the Senate and House of Representatives. The SAMSI/ASA poster featured a variety of work from SAMSI. Jessi demonstrated her work in the field of astrostatistics, using statistics for astronomy problems one universe at a time. Kimberly showed her work in the current SAMSI statistical and mathematical ecology program on the impact of bark beetle outbreaks and climate change in the West. Richard talked about what SAMSI is about and past and upcoming programs that SAMSI offers and the number of researchers involved in the programs across the United States.

SAMSI people with Rep. Jerry McNerney

(L-R) Jessi Cisewski, Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA-9) and Kimberly Kaufeld.

During the event, representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX-30), the ranking member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee talked to Richard Smith about SAMSI and how NSF has contributed to SAMSI’s development. Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA-9) also spent some time at the SAMSI booth – he has a PhD in Mathematics and has long bene known as a champion of science in Congress. Several NSF program officers stopped by to talk to Jessi and Kimberly about their research and provided them with different funding opportunities within NSF.

Overall, it was a great experience to meet and talk to representatives of the Senate and House about how NSF is a vital part of the statistical and mathematical community. It was welcoming to see all the different NSF supported programs come together to the Capital to show all the different projects and programs in the United States that NSF is supporting.


Postdoc Profile – Bailey Fosdick

Bailey Fosdick

Bailey Fosdick

“When most people think of social networks, they immediately think of interactive sites on the Internet. They assume I am studying Facebook and Twitter and I have to explain it is like that but on a much smaller scale,” said Bailey Fosdick, SAMSI postdoc. However, the social networks that Bailey is studying have nothing to do with the Internet. She is looking at scenarios such as how substance abuse and obesity of adolescents are related to their social networks and how baboon troops socialize and fission over time.

Bailey was born and raised in the small town of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, which most people identify as a ski resort town. She spent six years ski racing but finally decided to focus on basketball realizing the color of the ribbon she won in races was more important to her than the actual place (She wouldn’t hesitate to trade a brown 8th place ribbon for a pale blue 10th place one!).  She said people are often surprised to find out she grew up there because they only think of it as a ski resort. After high school, she spent a year at the Colorado School of Mines, a small school located in Golden, Colorado, specializing in engineering and science.  She quickly discovered that while she enjoyed the science and problem solving, she hated the labs. It was then that she decided to get into mathematics.

She rounded out her undergraduate time at Colorado State University (CSU) majoring in mathematics with a minor in computer science. During the summer between her junior and senior year, she spent time at North Carolina State University participating in their Applied Mathematics REU program and eating at Cook Out on the weekends.  While she enjoyed her introduction to research through the REU, she really felt statistics was her calling and was urged to pursue graduate school by a great group of faculty mentors in the Department of Statistics at CSU.  One year later she was in the statistics graduate program at the University of Washington in Seattle.

The University of Washington’s Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences gave Bailey a place to learn about important statistical questions in the social sciences. She enjoys working on real-world problems and collaborating with experts in specific areas of science to develop and apply statistical methods to solve pressing problems in their areas. For her dissertation, titled ” Modeling heterogeneity within and between arrays,” Bailey worked closely with a sociologist and she also worked on a large project involving demographers during her time at the University of Washington.

photo of the football team

Football team.

Bailey’s love for sports continued at the University of Washington where she was apart of intramural co-ed volley and coed-flag football championship winning teams multiple years.  She also played co-ed softball but her team was never able to finish the season with a win.

She heard about SAMSI after seeing an advertisement announcing that SAMSI was looking for postdoctoral fellows and several of the faculty told her it would be a great opportunity to pursue.  She is here for one year as a fellow for the Computational Methods in Social Sciences program. “I felt the SAMSI program was a great fit for the work I had been doing at the University of Washington,” said Bailey.

Bailey is involved with several working groups including social networks, censuses and surveys, and the topology working group, which is actually a part of the Low-dimensional Structure in High-dimensional Systems (LDHD) program.

“I have really enjoyed being here. This region is rich in opportunities with the three major universities located so close together. Although I have yet to visit all three statistics departments, the events at SAMSI have allowed me to meet and engage with many of the incredible researchers in the area,” noted Bailey.

Bailey has started a number of projects since arriving.  She is working with David Banks at Duke University on a project involving Baboon social structures and helping to develop models to predict how baboon troops will split. Usually the troops split according to matrilineage, but then a troop split was observed that did not follow either the mother or father’s line.

Bailey talking to someone at a poster session

Bailey presents her work at the Social Networking workshop poster session.

Another project Bailey is working on is to analyze bike sharing data in Washington, D.C. Many big cities have bike sharing programs where a person will check out a bike on one place and then check it back in at another part of the city. The study is looking at how the flow of bikes throughout the city changes by day of the week, time of day, and for regular versus infrequent riders.

She has found social network research to be very interesting and fulfilling. She is also happy to be making new connections at SAMSI with whom she will most likely continue to collaborate with in the coming years.

When she is not at SAMSI, Bailey enjoys running. She says while in Seattle she usually ran when the sun was out and that typically equated to a couple times of week.  However, she has found that to be a nearly daily occurrence in North Carolina.  She and her husband are also playing softball in a softball league on the weekends.

Next year, Bailey will take a job as assistant professor of statistics at Colorado State University. She is happy to be returning to her home state and is very thankful that the university allowed her to take this year to do the postdoctoral fellowship at SAMSI.

More Impressions from the Computational Advertising Summer Program

Last Friday the Computational Advertising summer program at SAMSI came to an end. The working groups that had met throughout the second week of the program met to talk about the work they had conducted and to talk about potential collaborations for the future.

people listening to lectures the first week

The first week was spent listening to lectures about Computational Advertising.

A couple more people wanted to share their comments about the program, so we are sharing them here:

Zhou Li, Notre Dame University

“I’m just so glad that I’ve come to this workshop. At the beginning, I was not very sure about this program because I didn’t have any clue about computational  advertising. But the workshop did such a good job in introducing this subject. The first 3 days, the lectures given by experts in Computational Advertising provided some important ideas about what this area is all about, and we also got the chance to talk with them in person at a very relaxing atmosphere. As to the following week, it’s all about hands on research experience and group working. I have to say l love the group I worked with. We have people from very different backgrounds and of very different personalities. Actually, it is not only a great chance to learn (D.r Huo is such a knowledgeable scholar in the subject sponsored search bidding,the topic we were working on) but a chance to make friends.
I have to thank Dr. Banks, he is such an awesome  person. We had a great time at his place. Thanks to all the people in SAMSI for organizing the workshop.”

people standing around posters during poster session

A poster session and reception was held the first night to introduce more concepts and give people a chance to socialize.

Qiyi Lu, SUNY Binghampton

“This may be one of the greatest workshops I have attended. The best thing about the program is joining in the working groups.  Our group consists of 8 people, with different backgrounds and skills. I am new to this area. The working group helped me get a deeper understanding of the topics, and the interactions with other participants are a great experience. I spent the best part of my summer here! ”

group sitting at a conference table with laptops

The second week was spent in smaller working groups.