On October 15, 2011, world-renown educator, statistician, and director of education at the American Statistical Association (ASA) Martha Aliaga passed away from cancer in her home, surrounded by her family. The family and the ASA are working together to develop a scholarship in Martha's name.
Martha Aliaga impacted everyone she met both personally and through her many professional accomplishments. After receiving an undergraduate degree in mathematics from the University of Buenos Aires and a master's degree in statistics from CIENES in Santiago, Chile, she went on to earn her PhD in statistics from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where she became an associate professor. Pedagogy was a passion for Martha, and she traveled internationally attending conferences, presenting talks, and teaching at universities including American University and George Washington University in Washington DC. (She also taught nine grandchildren piano, mathematics, science, and arts.) Co-author of the popular and widely acclaimed college textbook Interactive Statistics, she was the 2002 president of the Caucus for Women in Statistics, an elected council member of the International Statistical Institute, and a Fellow of the ASA.
Martha joined the ASA in August 2003 and as the director of education created the Educational Ambassadorship Program, Meeting Within a Meeting for statistics K-12 teachers, and STEW, a peer-reviewed repository of lesson plans for statistics K–12 teachers. She also introduced Census@School in the USA. In the April 2003 issue of Amstat News, Martha said she was attracted to the position of director because of the number of people she could help through the ASA. "I always thought I was successful as a teacher," she said, "but I could only help one student at a time." ASA Executive Director Ron Wasserstein noted, "We have lost a wonderful and remarkable colleague, and our sense of loss is great, but great also is our sense of privilege to have known and worked with her."
Martha loved her family dearly and is survived by her husband of 44 years, Alfredo Aliaga, and her three children: Viviana Soper (husband Ronald and children Monica, Natalie and Grace) of California; Pablo Aliaga (wife Sonya Vartivarian and children Sebastian, Isabel, Alexander and Camille) of Maryland; and Eduardo Aliaga (wife Roxanna and children Leo and Xanna) of California. She is also survived by her brother Jorge Bilotti (wife Dora and children Estella, Susana, Liliana and Gustavo) and her sister-in-law Esther Bilotti (children Carina and Fernando), all of whom reside in her native Argentina. She was predeceased by her brother Oscar Bilotti, husband of Esther Bilotti, and her parents, Rosa Elia and Armando Santiago Bilotti, of Argentina. Martha has many other loving relatives in Argentina, Peru, and around the world.
A memorial service is planned for November 5, at St John's the Evangelist Catholic Church, Wilde Lake Interfaith Center, 10431 Twin Rivers Road, Columbia, MD 21044. The service begins at 1:00pm, followed by a reception. For planning purposes, please RSVP to Sonya Vartivarian at SLVartiv@umich.edu.
Letters of condolence and donations for the scholarship fund can be sent to: The Aliaga Family, c/o The American Statistical Association, 732 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. Arrangements by Witzke Funeral Home, Inc. 5555 Twin Knolls Rd. Columbia, MD 21045.