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Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia elects UC Professor to its ranks

Michael Black

9 November 2021: University of Canberra Adjunct Professor David Kalisch has been elected to the prestigious Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA) in recognition of his distinguished public service career and contributions to the field of data science.

Adjunct Professor Kalisch is one of 37 new Fellows elected to ASSA, bringing the total to 742 across the Academy’s 50-year history.

In addition to his work with the University, he also served for five years as Chief Statistician at the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), is chair of the ACT Electoral Commission, and does private consulting work.

Adjunct Professor Kalisch said it was a privilege to be elected to the ASSA, where he joins a growing number of career public servants in the ranks of the traditionally research-focussed academy.

“It’s great to see ASSA’s membership starting to broaden,” he said. “Particularly from my perspective, data is key to the social sciences on so many levels.

“Without data, you’re just left with hypotheses and ideologies – which have their place – but at some point, you really need data and evidence to back them up.”

Adjunct Professor Kalisch has lectured students at the University’s Faculty of Business, Government, and Law, offering the next generation a practical perspective on how they can use data in the workplace.

“More and more people are taking a keen interest in the use of data, as well as really seeing the value of well-rounded analytical skills,” he said.

“It’s my job to help students deepen their understanding of data, point out some of the traps for younger players, and help them think of the opportunities they can explore in their careers.”

Many of Adjunct Professor Kalisch’s students have already gained public sector experience, with the University sharing strong connections with both the ACT and Commonwealth public service.

He also said there was a broad mix of backgrounds, particularly at the postgraduate level, when it came to students wanting to learn about statistics.

“We need all kinds of people involved in data science and statistics, in both the public sector and research settings,” he said.

“You get a lot of value from people working in teams, where some have first-rate technical skills, another understands the policy perspective, and others know how to best tell the story of that data.”

ASSA President Professor Jane Hall congratulated Adjunct Professor Kalisch and all the new Fellows on their election.

“These new Fellows are at the forefront of social research and policy, and they have made enormous contributions to our society as a whole,” she said.

“It is an honour to have these individuals as new Fellows of the Academy.”

A full list of the new Fellows elected to ASSA for 2021 can be found on the Academy’s website.