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SICASH 2023 – Keynotes

Prof. James J. Cochran

Department of Information Systems, Statistics, and Management Science
Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration
University of Alabama

Title: Challenges in Data Collection and the Importance of Engagement with Statisticians



Data collection, research, and the training of colleagues to perform these tasks are difficult endeavors under the best of circumstances. Although some data collection can be performed remotely, in many cases there is no alternative collecting data on location. Natural disasters, terrorism, interference by hostile actors, and war/political instability (which is often the precursor to war) create dramatic needs for rapidly collected accurate data and often necessitate collecting data on location, but these conditions also generally create almost insurmountable impediments to rapid on location collection of accurate data. In this talk, we review several field cases in which we have attempted to collect data in regions suffering from natural disasters, terrorism, interference by hostile actors, and war/political instability.We discuss the unique and common impediments we faced and how we attempted (sometimes successfully, and sometimes not successfully) to overcome these impediments, and we make the case for engaging with statisticians not from the cradle to the grave of a research project, but rather from conception to the afterlife of a research project.


James J. Cochran Is the Rogers-Spivey Fellow and Associate Dean for Research with the University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Business. He has been a Visiting Scholar with Stanford University, the University of South Africa, the Universidad de Talca, Pôle Universitaire Léonard De Vinci, the University of Limpopo, and the University of Namibia. He holds honorary faculty appointments with the University of KwaZulu Natal and the University of Limpopo.


Dr. Cochran’s research focuses on problems at the interface of statistics and operations research, and he has taught a wide range of statistics and operations courses from the introductory undergraduate level through PhD seminars. He has published fourteen book chapters and over fifty research articles, and he is coauthor of eight textbooks in statistics, operations research, analytics, and data visualization. He is the founding Editor-in-Chief of the Wiley Encyclopedia of Operations Research and the Management Sciences, Wiley Series in Operations Research and Management Science, Oxford Anthology of Statistics in Sports series, and INFORMS Analytics Body of Knowledge. He has served as a consultant to a wide variety of corporations, government agencies, and not-for-profit organizations around the world.


Dr. Cochran established an international teaching effectiveness colloquium series and organized these events in Uruguay, South Africa, Colombia, India, Tanzania, Argentina, Kenya, Nepal, Cameroon, Croatia, Cuba (twice), Estonia, Fiji, Mongolia, Moldova, Bulgaria, Tunisia, and Grenada. He was a founding co-chair of Statistics without Borders and a founding committee member for the INFORMS Pro Bono Analytics initiative. He has delivered keynotes to conferences in twenty-five nations.


Dr. Cochran has received the INFORMS Prize for the Teaching of OR/MS Practice, Mu Sigma Rho Statistical Education Award, Waller Distinguished Teaching Career Award, and Karl E. Peace Award for outstanding statistical contributions for the betterment of society. He is a Fellow of both the American Statistical Association and INFORMS, and he has received both the American Statistical Association’s Founders Award and the INFORMS President’s Award.