Spotlight on Commerce: Tommy Wright, Chief, Center for Statistical Research and Methodology, U. S. Bureau of the Census
Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to building a middle class economy in honor of Black History Month
Guest blog post by Tommy Wright, Center for Statistical Research and Methodology, U. S. Bureau of the Census
Since joining the U. S. Census Bureau in January 1996 as a research mathematical statistician, I have provided the overall technical leadership for the Center for Statistical Research & Methodology (formerly Statistical Research Division). The Center for Statistical Research & Methodology is the Census Bureau's statistical and methodological research and consulting facility. CSRM researchers are engaged in collaborative work applying known statistical methods and in research for new and better statistical methods motivated by practical problems using tools from two key areas: mathematical statistics and statistical computing. Our statistical methods include: (1) methods that can link hundreds of millions of records in one data set with hundreds of millions of records in another; methods to bring better modeling to the internal processing of data from sample surveys and censuses, including data visualization; methods to compensate for missing data when respondents do not answer all questions on a questionnaire; methods to make inferences about finite populations (e.g., of people or of businesses) using data from probability samples; methods to produce reliable estimates of characteristics for small levels of geography or small subpopulations when the sample sizes for these areas are very small or zero; methods to seasonally adjust economic time series; and methods to test new or improved operations using computer simulations or designed experiments.
A key aspect of my role is helping the Census Bureau define statistical problems and finding excellent researchers to work on them. My colleagues and I work in collaboration with other Census Bureau staff as well as through interaction with academic, industrial, government, and other researchers. I recruit, develop, and maintain a core staff of researchers with expertise in statistics, statistical computing, and mathematics. The problems and collaborations in my work are a constant source of stimulating challenges that are especially rewarding when research results are used and published.
Between 1979 and 1996, I was a research staff member of the Mathematical Sciences Section at Oak Ridge National Laboratory where my research focused on probability sampling and estimation, the design of sample surveys, and elementary applied probability and combinatorics.