By Eric Vance

Virginia Tech’s Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Statistical Analysis (LISA) and the university’s Department of Statistics will cohost an event October 20 to celebrate World Statistics Day.

The event, titled “Envisioning the 21st Century Global Land Grant University to Build Research Capacity in Developing Countries,” will introduce the LISA 2020 Program to the Virginia Tech and local communities and celebrate the program’s successes to date.

The celebratory occasion will begin at 5 p.m. in Goodwin Hall Auditorium on the campus with a featured talk followed by a reception. Guest speakers are Ian Crandell, LISA 2020 ambassador to Nigeria; Ayele Taye Goshu, LISA fellow from Hawassa University in Ethiopia; and LISA Director Eric Vance.

What is LISA 2020?

The LISA 2020 Program was created in 2012 by Virginia Tech’s Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Statistical Analysis to build statistics capacity and research infrastructure in developing countries. Its goal is to help scientists, government officials, businesses and nongovernmental organizations use data to solve real-world problems and make decisions.

Through this program, statisticians from developing countries are trained to effectively communicate and collaborate with non-statisticians and help to create statistical collaboration laboratories modeled after LISA at their home universities or institutions. These new statistical collaboration laboratories foster education in collaborative statistics and promote the proper application of statistics and data science to solve local problems.

Sokoine University of Agriculture LISA 625

LISA Director Eric Vance (center) with staff and students of the Sokoine University of Agriculture Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Statistical Analysis. The LISA statistics laboratory, founded last December, is located in Morogoro, Tanzania and is led by Dr. Bendicto Kazuzuru.

With a strong mentoring network, a single statistician trained to communicate and collaborate with non-statisticians can enable and accelerate 50 or more research projects per year with each project impacting hundreds or even thousands of people.

LISA 2020 will help unlock the collaborative potential of technically trained statisticians who in turn will unlock the research potential of their collaborators and teach the next generation of statisticians to do the same. These collaborations—now with the power of statistical thinking available to them—will be vital to improving human welfare worldwide, especially in developing countries.

LISA 2020 Network Progress

LISA has hosted and trained seven fellows, helped establish five new stat labs, and two LISA ambassadors—Crandell and Adam Edwards—have worked at two of these stat labs.

To date, the program has hosted seven fellows from around the world. They are: Olawale Awe of Nigeria; Dr. Benedicto Kazuzuru, Emanuel Msemo and Richard Ngaya from Tanzania; Jingli Xing of China; Dr. Mohamed Djedour from Algeria; and Dr. Ayele Taye Goshu of Ethiopia. In addition, BECCA—a stat lab at the University of Pennsylvania—helped train Awe.

Vance is director of Virginia Tech University’s Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Statistical Analysis and a Associate Research Professor in the school’s Department of Statistics.