Statistics Professor Babak Shahbaba has been awarded a $1.7 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant that could have far-reaching implications for future efforts to address memory impairment. The research involves electrophysiological experiments in rats to study how a brain structure — the hippocampus — supports our ability to remember the daily events of our life. Furthermore, the research should lead to new methodologies for handling huge amounts of complex data. The five-year grant, “Scalable Bayesian Stochastic Process Models for Neural Data Analysis,” is a multidisciplinary collaboration between Shahbaba and fellow Statistics Professor Hernando Ombao and Associate Professor of Neurobiology and Behavior Norbert Fortin.
Statistics Professor Vladimir Minin recently organized a special section on infectious diseases in Statistical Science in collaboration with Theodore Kypraios, an associate professor of mathematics at the University of Nottingham. The section, written for the broader statistical community, covers the state-of-the-art of statistical inference for stochastic epidemic models for infectious disease data. It includes the following six articles:
What role do statisticians play in governing? A pretty important one, according to Statistics Professor Jessica Utts. The 2016 President of the American Statistical Association (ASA) gave a keynote speech in Sri Lanka titled “The Importance of Statistics for Good Governance and What the ASA is Doing to Help.” The speech was delivered in December at the Institute of Applied Statistics Sri Lanka International Conference (IASSL-IC), which was themed, “Statistics for Good Governance.” IASSL is a nonprofit organization that aims to support the professional development of statisticians and statistical education in Sri Lanka.
As reported by Shannon Jayawardena, Utts explained in her keynote that “good governance means making decisions that benefit the constituents in an efficient and effective way.” Regardless of the organization’s size or structure – whether you’re governing a nation or small club — “data and statistical knowledge should play a major role in the process of making decisions and setting policy,” said Utts. However, she also noted that this requires “good” data, and while “collecting massive amounts of data has become easy, collecting good data remains difficult.”
This is where statisticians can help in a variety of ways. First, Utts said that they can help organizations understand the difference between good and bad data, which is “crucial for good governance.” Second, they can help “educate people, ranging from politicians and policymakers to the general public, on the appropriate use and interpretation of data.” Finally, they can “play a major role in improving statistical methods for more efficient and accurate data collection and analysis.”
— Shani Murray
Statistics Professor Jessica Utts and eight statistics graduate students (seven Ph.D. and one M.S.) attended the American Statistical Association’s 2017 Women in Statistics and Data Science Conference held in La Jolla, Calif., from Oct. 19-21. In its third year, the conference had about 400 attendees and is modeled after the Grace Hopper Conference, which is aimed more toward women in computing and computer sciences. According to Utts, UCI was probably the most well-represented school at the conference this year, with the nine women attending from the Department of Statistics as well as other women from across campus.
Graduate statistics student Shuying Zhu is the recipient of the 2017 Robert L. Newcomb Memorial Endowed Graduate Award, which aims to provide statistical support to researchers and advance the careers of graduate students in the Donald Bren School of ICS. Zhu previously studied chemical engineering in China, but she found statistics to be “useful and interesting.” A friend who studied at UC Irvine recommended the statistics program, so Zhu looked into it and realized it was a good program. She says Irvine is a nice place, and in her free time she enjoys playing badminton and tennis. She is interested in applied statistics and appreciates having the chance to learn. She plans to apply for a Ph.D. program and wants to start a career in academia. Zhu was “very surprised and grateful” to learn she had received the Newcomb award.
Best Computer Science Schools (BCSS), a leading authority on computer science, tech education and college rankings, has released a new ranking of the 35 Best Big Data Degrees for 2017 in which UCI was ranked as having the 18th best data science bachelor’s degree program in the nation. The ranking highlights the growth and impact of UCI’s B.S. program in data science, which is housed in the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences. The data science bachelor’s has a dual emphasis on the principles of both statistics and computer science, with foundational training in statistical and mathematical aspects of data analysis, as well as in the broad principles of computer science (including algorithms, data structures, data management and machine learning).
The UCI Office of Inclusive Excellence (OIE) has appointed ICS professors Melissa Mazmanian, Amelia Regan and Babak Shahbaba to serve as DECADE (Diverse Educational Community and Doctoral Experience) Graduate Faculty Mentors. Mazmanian will serve as a mentor for the graduate program in informatics, Shahbaba will be the mentor for the graduate program in statistics; and Regan will serve as a mentor for the graduate programs in computer science, network systems and transportation science. They each will serve two-year terms that started in July.
Five accomplished ICS faculty are awarded for their innovative research, exemplar service, student mentorship and exceptional teaching skills.
Congratulations to the 2016-2017 recipients of the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences Dean’s Awards, where accomplished ICS faculty are awarded for their innovative research, exemplar service, student mentorship and exceptional teaching skills. Recipients are peer- and self-nominated, garnering a certificate and a $500 discretionary award for their achievement.
Congratulations to Statistics Ph.D. students Xu Gao and Maricela Cruz who both recently received best paper awards from the American Statistical Association (ASA). Gao was recognized for his paper, “Evolving State-Space Models with Applications to Local Field Potentials.” Cruz was recognized for her paper on healthcare data titled, “A robust interrupted time series model for analyzing complex healthcare intervention data.” They will have the opportunity to present their papers at the Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM 2017) in August 2017.
Gao recently won the Eastern North American Region (ENAR) International Biometrics Society’s Distinguished Student Paper Award competition in January 2017., while Cruz is a fellow of the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF GRF).
Several members of the UC Irvine Space-Time Modeling Group contributed to the recent release of the Handbook of Neuroimaging Data Analysis, which was published in November 2016 by Chapman and Hall/CRC. Statistics Professor and American Statistical Association Fellow Hernando Ombao served as one of the book’s editors, while Chee-Ming Ting, Carolina Euan, Lechuan Hu, Yuxiao Wang and Anna Schroeder were contributing co-authors for the 662-page handbook. In addition to Ombao, the handbook’s other editors were Martin Lindquist form Johns Hopkins University, Wesley Thompson from UC San Diego, and John Aston from the University of Cambridge.