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For Immediate Release: Monday, October 17, 2022

New Associate Director for Research and Methodology and Chief Scientist

Press Release Number CB22-175

OCTOBER 17, 2022 — The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that Sallie Keller, division director and distinguished professor in biocomplexity at the Biocomplexity Institute at the University of Virginia (UVA) has assumed the role of associate director for Research and Methodology and chief scientist. Keller is taking over for John Abowd, who held the position for the last six years. Announcement of the transition was made in June.

The Research and Methodology Directorate leads critical work to modernize our operations and products. Dr. Abowd is now in the role of executive senior advisor and will remain in the position until major projects under his tenure are completed. Dr. Keller joined the U.S. Census Bureau through an interagency personnel agreement (IPA) as a special advisor on July 1, and as of today, assumes the role of associate director.

In addition to Dr. Keller’s Biocomplexity Institute role, she holds appointments in UVA’s School of Data Science, School of Medicine’s Public Health Sciences Department, and School of Engineering and Applied Science’s Engineering Systems and Environment Department. Dr. Keller's areas of expertise are social and decision informatics, statistical underpinnings of data science, and data access and confidentiality. She is a leading voice in creating the science of all data and advancing this research across disciplines to benefit society.

“I look forward to working with researchers and leadership throughout the Census Bureau to help drive continued innovation and mentor Census Bureau staff who are international leaders in their fields of expertise,” said Dr. Keller. “Recent times have shown we need more agility and capability for capturing and integrating data of all kinds, at scale, to bring forward data insights about some of society’s most perplexing issues. The Census Bureau has begun its next phase of modernization through enterprise initiatives to help meet this need and I look forward to supporting and influencing this transformation.”

Dr. Abowd’s long association with the Census Bureau began in 1998 when he joined the team of distinguished research fellows that helped found the longitudinal employer-household dynamics program. And since 2016, he has led our agency’s efforts to create a differentially private disclosure avoidance system for the 2020 Census and future data products. He is an internationally renowned scholar, and his research on privacy and statistical disclosure limitation has been crucial to helping us improve our products and honor our commitment to confidentiality of data.

"I have enjoyed working with fine colleagues on many projects over the past 25 years. The Census Bureau is very fortunate that Sallie Keller has become the new chief scientist," said Dr. Abowd. “She brings just the right talents to her new job.”

“We are grateful for the leadership of John Abowd in modernizing our operations and products over the past six years,” said Robert L. Santos, director of the Census Bureau. “And we look forward to working with Sallie Keller as we continue our journey of transformation and modernization.”

Dr. Keller is an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering. She has served as a member of the National Academy of Sciences Board on Mathematical Sciences and Their Applications and the Committee on National Statistics, and she has chaired the Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, elected member of the International Statistics Institute, and fellow and past president of the American Statistical Association. She is committed to the principles of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in the workplace.



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