Kathi Irvine, Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center Research Statistician, selected as American Statistical Association Fellow

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Kathi Irvine was recently selected as a 2021 fellow of the American Statistical Association due to her outstanding contributions to Ecological Statistics. Kathi’s statistical expertise has improved the utility of scientific studies and natural resource monitoring, which are used to inform conservation decisions.

Image of Kathi Irvine.

Dr. Kathi Irvine, Research Statistician for NOROCK and recent ASA Fellow. 

Kathi Irvine, Research Statistician for Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center (NOROCK), has been selected as a fellow of the American Statistical Association (ASA) by ASA’s 2021 Committee on Fellows. Founded in 1839, the ASA is the largest community of statisticians in the world and has members is in the private sector, government, and academia from across the globe. Each year the ASA selects fellows from its organization who have clearly illustrated a pattern of outstanding contributions to statistical science.

In her capacity as NOROCK’s leader in ecological statistics and decision support tool development, Kathi has a proven record of providing statistical contributions useful to resource managers and conservation scientists. Specifically, Kathi provides the statistical expertise necessary to decrease statistical uncertainty and increases the utility of scientific studies and natural resource monitoring designs. Kathi has been able to apply her expertise to a wide range of systems and organisms including bats, whitebark pine, plant communities in sagebrush steppe, and submerged aquatic plants to name a few. Her work improves the usefulness of vegetation surveys used to assist scientists and resource manager address questions about species of conservation concern and their habitats.

Image: Hoary Bat

A hoary bat roosting from a branch of a tree. This is one of the many bat species that Kathi Irvine has studied. (Credit: Paul Cryan, USGS. Public domain.)

Additionally, Kathi’s statistical approaches and tools improved population estimates for organisms that are notoriously difficult to study, like bats. Bats are nocturnal, often having large home ranges, and many species do not aggregate in structures like caves where they can be more easily counted. These traits make it difficult to develop statistically robust approaches for providing population status and trends estimates, thus hindering the ability of resource managers to draft conservation plans for threatened and endangered species. Through her collaboration with the North American Bat Monitoring Program (NaBAT), which Kathi co-developed, her team has innovated statistical tools to improve ecological understanding  of bats through robust survey design and models for bat acoustic (echolocation) data.

Congratulations Kathi!