The newest member of the faculty in the Department of Statistics is a very familiar figure; it is our own Karen Keating, who earned her Ph.D. in the department in 2012, under the direction of Dr. Gary Gadbury. Her dissertation topic was Statistical Analysis of Pyrosequence Data.Karen originally hails from Bryant, Arkansas, which is just outside of Little Rock. She earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro and an MS degree in Applied Mathematics, with an emphasis in Operations Research at the University of Maryland, and then worked for several years as a decision support analyst in the Washington, D.C. area. She followed that with several years of teaching undergraduate mathematics and statistics courses at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock. It was while taking graduate level courses there that she got hooked on statistics and decided to come back to school and pursue her Ph.D. degree.
After earning her doctorate, Karen took a job in the School of Public Health at University of Alabama at Birmingham. She was one of two data analysts working with more than a dozen researchers in the Office of Energetics as well as their external collaborators. She says that the bulk of the research involved energetics — how a body converts food to energy, how it stores the energy, and how the energy is expended. Various experiments were aimed at perturbing the cycle, for the purpose of understanding obesity and how to combat obesity. They also looked at policy issues related to obesity.
When she saw the K-State ad that was seeking someone to be heavily involved in the instructional efforts of the department she was immediately attracted to the opportunity because of
- The faculty (she has great relationships with the current faculty)
- The university’s interest in and value of statistics and statistical collaboration
- The town
- The chance to return to teaching
When asked what she most looks forward to in her new position, Karen indicated that she is excited about the opportunity to expand the department’s online course offerings. She sees this as an opportunity to reach a wider audience than is currently served, and generate a more statistically literate society.
Karen has enjoyed her return to the department, and is currently excited about buying a house in Manhattan; she’ll be moving in later this summer. Her hobbies and avocations, which have been somewhat on hold since she began graduate school, include working with stained glass, being involved in living history projects (demonstrating daily living skills from 2 centuries ago), sewing and textile arts, theatrical costume design and construction, and designing and maintaining websites.
Weixin Yao will be leaving our department this summer to join the Statistics Department at the University of California-Riverside as an Associate Professor. Dr. Yao joined K-State’s Statistics Department seven years ago, after receiving his PhD from Penn State. During his time here he has supervised four PhD students and six Master’s students. His own research has focused on semi-parametric and non-parametric mixture models. While at K-State, Dr. Yao has published 29 articles.
He will be joined in California by his wife, Jian Guo, and his six-year-old son Charlie. Jian is working as an accountant in Anaheim and Charlie will start first grade. They are looking forward to enjoying the weather and beaches in California, as well as taking Charlie to Disneyland. They will be living in Yorba Linda. Dr. Yao says that he will miss both the people in the K-State Statistics Department and living in Manhattan, which he describes as peaceful.