Before that other presidential election in November, Kathy Ensor has a different one on her mind: the presidency of the American Statistical Association (ASA).
“It’s a huge opportunity and a huge responsibility,” said Ensor, the Noah G. Harding Professor of Statistics and one of two candidates running for the ASA’s top elected spot.
Founded in 1839, the ASA is the second-oldest continuously operating professional society in the U.S., with more than 19,000 members in academia, government, research and business. It has more than 70 chapters, almost 30 sections, 17 journals and six annual conferences.
Ensor, who joined the Rice faculty in 1987, is running against Daniel R. Jeske, professor of statistics and vice provost of administrative resolution at the University of California Riverside. Members can cast their ballots between March 30 and May 1.
If she wins, Ensor would take office next Jan. 1 as incoming president, followed by a year as president and another as past-president.
“You become the public face of the ASA,” she said. “You’re expected to define a set of initiatives for the profession.” Ensor has defined her areas of focus as “leadership, advancing ASA’s data science footprint, and engaging in the new frontier of urban analytics and the changing landscape of data privacy and use.”
The focus of her research is developing methods in time series and spatial processes for modern data science problems. Her research has applications in financial modeling, risk management, energy and the environment.
Ensor is director of the Center for Computational Finance and Economic Systems (CoFES) and of the Urban Data Platform of the Kinder Institute, both at Rice. She served as chair of the Department of Statistics from 1999 through 2013. Ensor earned her Ph.D. in statistics from Texas A&M University in 1986.
She is a Fellow of the American Statistical Association and American Association for the Advancement of Science. She served as vice president of the ASA from 2016 to 2018, and is a member of the National Academies Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics and the NSF Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics Board of Directors.