Professor Named Fellow of the American Statistical Association
Biostatistics professor Debbie Cheng will be officially inducted as a fellow in August, joining a select group of her peers.
Debbie Cheng, a professor of biostatistics, has been named a fellow of the American Statistical Association (ASA), the largest community of statisticians in the world. As described by the ASA, the designation of ASA Fellow has been a significant honor for nearly 100 years. The ASA Committee on Fellows may elect up to one-third of one percent of the total association membership as fellows each year.
Cheng, who currently serves as interim chair of the Department of Biostatistics, was both grateful and humbled to receive this recognition for her accomplishments, and shared that becoming an ASA fellow was, “not something I was expecting, yet it is a great honor.”
Although all ASA members are eligible to become fellows, nominees must have an established reputation and have made outstanding contributions to statistical science, according to the ASA. According to her nominator, Harvard biostatistics professor Tianxi Cai, Cheng was chosen for her “outstanding contributions to the application of innovative statistical methods to advance research on substance use and HIV; exceptional leadership of biostatistics shared resources and programs; and excellence in training the next generation of biostatisticians and public health practitioners.”
Looking ahead, Cheng says she wants to leave a positive mark on the world and use both her experience and knowledge of statistics in a variety of ways, through teaching, research, and service, to help make a difference. Cheng also offered advice to those aspiring to work in her field, explaining the multitude of routes available in statistics. “There are so many potential paths: methodological work, teaching, and collaborative team science, all of which can lead to important and impactful contributions.” Cheng says that in her career path, she found that it was best to focus on the areas that one is truly passionate about and then work hard at it.
Cheng’s work as a researcher and biostatistics professor spans decades. Since 2002, she has been an SPH faculty member with research focused on applied statistics and the design of clinical trials. She has collaborated with researchers worldwide on projects related to substance abuse and HIV research. Cheng was recently named as an associate director of the Providence/Boston Center for AIDS Research. She is also director of the Biostatistics and Data Management Core for the International URBAN ARCH Center, which aims to examine the impact of alcohol on multiple aspects of the tuberculosis disease continuum. Cheng is director of the Population Health Data Science Program that was launched at SPH this spring. She also has extensive experience as a biostatistics teacher for courses such as Introduction to Statistical Computing and the Design and Conduct of Clinical Trials.
The ASA Fellows induction ceremony will be held during the 2023 Joint Statistical Meetings in Toronto, Aug 6–10.