May 31, 2024

Dr. Hongtu Zhu

Dr. Hongtu Zhu

Hongtu Zhu, PhD, professor of biostatistics at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, has been appointed the next editor of the Journal of the American Statistical Association (JASA): Applications and Case Studies and coordinating editor.

JASA is one of the most prestigious and influential journals in the field of statistics. Established in 1888, the journal has a long-standing tradition of publishing cutting-edge research that advances the theory and practice of statistics. As a publication of the American Statistical Association, JASA plays a pivotal role in disseminating significant statistical innovations and applications across a wide range of disciplines.

The Applications and Case Studies (A&CS) section of JASA focuses on the application of statistical methods to substantive problems in a variety of scientific fields. This section aims to illustrate the impact of statistical thinking and methodology on real-world issues and to promote the integration of statistical practices with scientific inquiry.

Editors are appointed every three years, and Zhu’s appointment will run from 2025 through 2027. In his role, Zhu will be responsible for overseeing around 300 submissions per year and appointing new associate editors (AEs) across varying topics.

“My goal is to assemble the best team of AEs to advance the field of applied statistics and data science,” he said. “I aim to attract top-tier papers in data science while significantly enhancing the impact of statistics within the field. I will focus on increasing the journal’s visibility and efficiency.”

Zhu’s strategic initiatives for his term as editor include:

  • Allocating more space to major topics including health care, artificial intelligence, e-commerce, natural science and social good, which he says are crucial for the advancement of applied statistics and will attract high-quality submissions.
  • Promoting JASA papers across various social media platforms to reach the target audiences effectively. With emphasis on accessibility and reproducibility, he will encourage practices such as code sharing, educational videos and personalized paper recommendations.
  • Highlighting the importance of data processing beyond novel data analysis. This includes promoting papers on data infrastructure, including knowledge graphs, data processing pipelines and data annotation tools. Zhu says these areas are foundational for robust statistical analysis and are often underrepresented in statistical science.

“Many of these initiatives were inspired by recent conversations with fellow statisticians and the success seen in leading computer science conferences, like NeurIPS and ICML,” Zhu said. “My objective is to position JASA at the forefront of applied statistics, fostering innovation and enhancing the journal’s impact in the broader data science community.”

“On behalf of the Department of Biostatistics, we congratulate Dr. Zhu on being named as the next editor of JASA A&CS,” said Michael Hudgens, PhD, professor and chair of biostatistics. “This is a prestigious appointment and builds on the deep history of important editorial positions held by faculty members in our department. Dr. Zhu’s extraordinary record of research and his vision for the future of statistical science make him an ideal choice for the next JASA A&CS editor.”

“Dr. Hongtu Zhu has been named editor of JASA: Applications and Case Studies at a crucial period in our field in which artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning methods have started to take off and be at the forefront of scientific and statistical research,” said Alumni Distinguished Professor Joseph Ibrahim, PhD, who was editor of JASA A&CS from 2013-2015. “Hongtu is the perfect editor for this period due to his deep and longstanding knowledge and research in AI and machine learning methods for so many biomedical applications. He has a real vision for how AI and related areas fit into statistical research and for JASA in particular. He is a perfect fit as JASA editor in this major revolutionary and transformative period in biomedical statistical research.”

Zhu has also been an associate editor for JASA Application & Case Studies, JASA-Theory and Method, the Journal of Royal Statistical Society, Series B, Annals of Statistics, Statistics in Biosciences, Statistics and Its Interface, Biometrics, Statistica Sinica, Computational Statistics and Data Science, the Journal of Alzheimer’s Research, and Neurosurgery.


Contact the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health communications team at sphcomm@unc.edu.

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