It was the movie “Moneyball,” portraying the Oakland Athletics’ rise to fame in 2002 through the novel use of baseball statistics, that motivated James Purpura to study data science. Now, as part of the first graduating class for UCI’s new data science major, Purpura is set to earn his degree this spring. With a dual emphasis on statistics and computer science, the degree program — the first of its kind in the UC system — teaches students how to solve real-world data analysis problems. Purpura looks forward to landing a full-time position after graduation, but first, he is enjoying some time in London through UCI’s study abroad program.
Bite marks, shoe prints, crime-scene fibers: Matches to suspects are often far shakier than courtroom experts claim. Better statistical methods — among them, a little beast known as the “likelihood ratio” — can cut down on wrong convictions.
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The 2018 Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant for the Department of Statistics is Ph.D. student Olivia Bernstein. A skilled researcher with experience in data analytics and chemistry, Bernstein says the secret to being a good TA is to have the “patience to explain concepts in different ways to students.” She also stresses the need to “keep up on the administrative parts of the job.” While still unsure of her future plans, her goal is to pursue something related to statistics research.
This year, the Robert L. Newcomb Memorial Endowed Graduate Student Award was split between two students, Hina Arora and Tong Zou. The classmates and friends were pleased to win the award. Arora, who is a Ph.D. student interested in statistical methodology and applied machine learning, was “very excited and thankful” to hear she had won. She hopes to have a research career after earning her Ph.D.
Statistics Professor Michele Guindani has been named editor-in-chief of Bayesian Analysis, the electronic journal of the International Society for Bayesian Analysis (ISBA). His term starts in January 2019 and will run through December 2021 for this free, open-access journal that focuses on innovative research about Bayesian theory, methodology and application. In the words of the founding Editor-in-Chief, Rob E. Kass of Carnegie Mellon University, the journal provides an “outward-looking” view of Bayesian statistics, which can be of interest “not only to statisticians but to a very broad spectrum of quantitative researchers.”
Furthering work started last year, Daniel L. Gillen, professor and chair of the Department of Statistics, is continuing to collaborate on Alzheimer’s disease (AD) research with Joshua D. Grill, associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior in the UCI School of Medicine and director of the UCI Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders (MIND). With their new four-year $1.2 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant, “Effects of Alzheimer’s Disease Clinical Trial Study Partners,” Gillen and Grill aim to help researchers better understand how study partners for AD patients affect clinical trial data. This builds on earlier work by Gillen and Grill related to the study partner requirement for AD patients.
Each year, just 13 undergraduates are recognized with the Distinguished Anteater Award, and for 2018-19, one of them is Raj Parekh, a student of UCI’s new data science program. Parekh is majoring not only in data science (through the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences), but also in quantitative economics (School of Social Sciences) and mathematics (School of Physical Sciences). In addition to being one of the few students in the history of UCI who has triple majored with majors spanning three different schools, Parekh is also pursuing a minor in innovation and entrepreneurship in the Paul Merage School of Business and was recently admitted into the Economics Honors program.
The Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence (CSAFE), funded by the National Institute of Standards Technology (NIST) and codirected by Chancellor’s Professor of Statistics Hal Stern, was recently recognized by the American Statistical Association. At the ASA Awards Celebration and Editor Appreciation Event, held on July 29, CSAFE and NIST won the award for Statistical Partnerships Among Academe, Industry and Government. Established in 2002, the SPAIG Award recognizes outstanding partnerships between academe, industry and government organizations, resulting in significant contributions to the statistical field with applications to real-world problems.
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.