Faculty and staff of the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (ICS) gathered for the inaugural ICS Awards Celebration, a luncheon to honor recipients of the Jim McKenzie Staff Leadership Award and the Dean’s Faculty Awards.
Statistics Ph.D. candidate Maricela Cruz won the Latino Excellence Award for Information and Computer Sciences (ICS). Cruz received the award at the inaugural Latino Excellence and Achievement Dinner (LEAD) held on April 5, 2018. The event celebrated research excellence and achievements across all schools on the UCI campus and recognized key leaders, graduate students, faculty and staff who encourage success in the Latino community at UCI and in Orange County.
While previously working on studies related to aging populations and patients with kidney disease, Statistics Professor Bin Nan came across a set of emerging issues that could not be resolved using standard methods. So, he decided to explore new methods, becoming the Principal Investigator on a grant titled “Cutting Edge Survival Methods for Epidemiological Data.” The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently awarded Nan and his co-investigators — University of Michigan Professors Yi Li and Siobán Harlow — $1.2 million to develop the methods over the next four years.
Statistics Ph.D. student Andrew Holbrook received the UCI MIND award for his exceptional work in theoretical mathematics, probability, statistics, and neuroscience and aging.
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).