Kansas State University


Department of Statistics

Alumni News (2014)

Wendy (Boberg) Archer (MS ’04) has a new baby.  Elizabeth Ann was born in February, and joins sisters Kayla (15) and Rosa (4) in the family.  Wendy and her Texas family have started the application process for a non-profit corporation to raise awareness of the need for organ and tissue donations and help offset pre- and post -transplant costs, as her brother-in-law is on a waiting list for both heart and kidney transplants (see Team Philip on Facebook if you are interested in this project).Chris Bilder (PhD ‘00) has been hard at work (and quite successfully so) in the publishing world.  He and Tom Loughin (former faculty member here, now at Simon Fraser University in the Vancouver, BC suburbs) have recently finished their book entitled “Analysis of Categorical Data with R” and have learned that it will be published soon (yet this summer) by CRC Press.  Furthermore, Chris and co-authors Josh Tebbs (another former faculty member at KSU) and Chris McMahan were recently notified that their Biometrics paper “Two-Stage Hierarchical Group Testing for Multiple Infections with Application to the Infertility Prevention Project” was chosen for the ASA’s Outstanding Statistical Application Award.

Marjorie Bond (PhD ’96) is still at Monmouth College and still heavily into Statistical Education research.  She has organized a session for the 2014 ICOTS (that’s International Conference on the Teaching of Statistics – a quite prestigious conference) to be held in Flagstaff, Arizona this summer.

Rebhi Bsharat (PhD’07) has taken a senior biostatistician position with TransTech Pharma in North Carolina.   He now works in drug discovery and reports that it has been interesting and stimulating to learn new things like PK and PKPD in addition to using nonparametric and Bayesian modeling on a daily basis to answer research questions.  His family, including his four girls under the age of 7, are doing well and enjoying North Carolina as their new home.

 Kevin Chartier (PhD ’97) and wife Lori have put two of their offspring through Michigan State University and have another in school there now.  They have also graduated one from Western Michigan.  So they decided it was time to get back closer to the Midwest.  Hence, Kevin has taken a job as global Head of Statistics with Astellas Pharmaceuticals in Northbrook, IL.

Lots of changes are on the horizon for Dennis Clason (PhD ‘87).  In July, he will retire from his long-time position on the faculty at New Mexico State University.   He will then move to Cincinnati and join the faculty of the Department of Mathematics, Physics and Computer Science at the University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College, where his wife Susanna continues on a tenure-track appointment.  (Long distance relationship situation eased!)  The other big news is that son Brian and his wife delivered grandson Grant (the Clason’s first grandchild) in September.

 Brian Fergen (PhD ‘95) has taken a new position with Boeringer-Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc., an animal pharmaceutical firm.   He works in support of R&D, manufacturing and marketing of veterinary biologics and pharmaceutical products.  Their office is in Ames, IA, where he has been living for some time, so he didn’t need to move houses to take this position.  He reports that riding herd on four sons between the ages of 7 and 13 takes up most of his free time.

 Garth Highland (MS ‘12) is enjoying his work with Adams Land and Cattle in Broken Bow, Nebraska (it’s a pretty small town, folks).  He has recently collaborated with the IT folks and the facilities people to develop a way to reliably measure the hip height of animals during processing.  It turns out this is a latent variable that has been eluding them since sorting began here.  His bosses describe his work as revolutionary for the industry, so he’s got a nice feather in his cap.  He continues to research sorting algorithms for the cattle and is enjoying the challenges.

 Deepthi Jayawardene (MS’91) has recently taken a position with Astra Zeneca.  She made a move to Maryland in February to take this job.

 Kevin Kennedy (MS’07) is still at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City.  He works with huge national registries collected by the American College of Cardiology (ACC).  Cardiology researchers from around the nation can submit research proposals using these databases and if approved by the ACC, St. Lukes is one of the analytic centers used to turn out the research.  So he writes lots of manuscripts.  He has also started a statistical consulting business and serves a variety of professionals (Medical, PhD students, Chiropractic, Education, etc.).  On a personal note, Kevin and wife Rachael now have three boys…and a girl on the way, due in October.  So when he’s not doing the work thing, he’s a busy family man.

A big career move has occurred for Barbara Kuzmak (MS’86).  Barb earned her Ph.D. in Statistics at Virginia Tech and then worked for Proctor & Gamble for a number of years.   But she has made the move back to academia!  After a family move from Cincinnati to Minnesota, she discovered that the University of Minnesota had an opening for a lecturer in their statistics department.  She describes it as a “fun job because it is teaching, training graduate students to teach, no pressure to publish and summers off”.  She taught the introductory statistics course this past spring to 240 students and this fall will be in charge of the entire course of 525 students!  She says that when she started she was a little surprised that the enrollment was so high until she realized that many departments are changing their requirements from a semester of calculus to a semester of statistics.  She will also teach a writing course to the senior statistics majors.  The writing course is a college graduation requirement.  She plans to turn the course into a consulting course working with professionals from the School of Public Health and get her students to write about their consulting projects.   She figures to kill two birds with one stone.

 Ying Liu (PhD’08) has moved from Virginia Tech to a new teaching position with the School of Dentistry at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.   She is currently living in Overland Park, KS.

A wedding has been the big event in the life of Champa Magalla (PhD’12) recently.  She was married in May to Uditha Somachandra.  He is currently working as a Marketing Manager in Qatar so their relationship is a long-distance one for now.  Champa will be visiting him this summer and in December he will be returning to Sri Lanka to settle there.  Meanwhile, Champa continues in her position as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Statistics, University of Colombo in Sri Lanka (her undergraduate institution).  She does a lot of undergraduate teaching and is the coordinator of the MSc in Applied Statistics program, so she also teaches courses in that program as well as in the MSc in Bioinformatics program.

Chris Malone (PhD ’02) has been promoted to (full) professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Winona State University in Minnesota.  Congratulations, Chris!

 Wijith Munasinghe (PhD ‘10) says that things are going well for him at Abbvie Pharmaceuticals.  He has recently received a promotion to the Senior Manager level, and he has again hired a summer intern from K-State (we really appreciate that, Wijith).  In addition, he and his family have moved to a new home in Buffalo Grove, Illinois.

Life will be getting busier soon for Anna (Bruce) Nevius (MS’67).  She has just been elected to a three-year term on the Board of Directors of the American Statistical Association, representing the ASA’s Council of Sections.   Her term will begin on January 1, 2015.  Her work life as a team leader in the Center for Veterinary Medicine within the FDA will continue while she holds this office.  (You may remember that Anna was honored as an ASA Fellow at the 2012 JSM in San Diego.)

After 20+ years at Oakland University (in suburban Detroit) Theo Ogunyemi (PhD’90) is working in new research areas.  He is doing research in clinical data as an investigator on a three-year NIH grant with regard to prediction of urinary incontinence. It is a joint collaboration between Oakland University and Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak.  He attended an NIH-sponsored workshop on the area in Washington D.C. in May.  He is also working in financial mathematics as an advisor to a doctoral student. It is his latest area of research and teaching and he is finding the change in the mathematical and statistical thinking required not to be as difficult as understanding the financial jargon/terminology involved.  Additionally, he is one of the three faculty members in charge of a newly established undergraduate program in actuarial science (three years old).  It is a joint program between his department (math and stat) and the school of business administration.  He posits that the Metro Detroit area is a great place to have such a program, as Oakland University is located right in the middle of industrial southeast Michigan.

 Andrew Pole (MS’96) continues to face new and interesting challenges at Target.  In addition to continuing to lead the marketing analytics, reporting, and campaign execution teams at Target, he has assumed responsibility for leading a new Guest (Customer) Data Management team.   This new team is responsible for the governance, distribution, protection, and legal compliance of enterprise guest data at Target.  In this new responsibility, he spends a lot of time with the in-house lawyers and information protection folks, and has even begun taking data privacy exams so he can start speaking their language.  He has also earned two patents for his work at Target.  Both were related to measuring the impact of a guest’s (customer’s) online browsing behavior at Target.com on that same guest’s behavior in a Target store.  The methodology is called “web influenced store sales” or WIN$ for short.

 Lance Ridpath (MS’05) was promoted in January to Coordinator of Institutional Research at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in Lewisburg, WV, where he’s been working since July, 2009.  Last August, Lance and wife Holly welcomed their second baby boy, Westley Bennett Ridpath (he goes by ‘West’) into the family.  He joins older brother Cash, who turns four in July.

Dilan Paranagama (PhD’12) has accepted a position as Principal Statistician at the Incyte Corporation in Wilmington, Delaware. Incyte is a small scale pharmaceutical company specializing in oncology and inflammation. The position will be in the scientific communications department.  He will be involved with a variety of aspects of clinical development.  Dilan, wife Thilanka, and son Nevin will be moving to Delaware soon, and will immediately begin looking for a preschool for Nevin.

 Mollie (Poehlman) Roediger (MS ‘03) has taken a new position.  She now works for Medtronics (a big medical devices firm in the Twin Cities) as a Senior Statistician in the neuromodulation (isn’t that a mouthful?) group.   She is enjoying her work but has found what a big change private industry is from the public sector (her previous job was with U. of Minnesota Hospital).

 Scott Roths (MS’05) completed his doctorate in Statistics at Penn State University in 2011 under the joint direction of Jogesh Babu and Debashis Ghosh .  He has been hired to work in that department as an instructor, and is enjoying the situation.  He reports that his latest avocation is Frisbee golf.

 Mark Sorell (MS ’88) and his family (wife Traci, son Carlos, not quite 5) are enjoying being back in the Midwest.  Mark is now working with Hallmark in Kansas City (and Bill Eisele, MS ‘ 92) and living in Olathe, KS, after 20+ years in the southwest. The family especially enjoys being able to catch a Royals game now and then.

Zhaohui Su (PhD’04) has taken a new position without having to move.  He is now working for the Boston office of Quintiles where he is head of Biostatistics for the Real-World and Late Phase Research Division of the company.  Wife Xin Sun (MS’04) continues to work at the Harvard School of Public Health.  The couple, with daughters Elena (11) and Sophia (7), live in nearby Brookline, MA.

Ron Wasserstein (PhD ’87) and his family are celebrating the latest additions to their family.  They have adopted two 10 year-old boys from Haiti, named Abner and Peterson.  The saga began several years ago when two of the Wassersteins’ older offspring were doing mission work in Haiti and met the boys at an orphanage.  Although unrelated, they were suggested as a pair for adoption.  The adoption process was slow and cumbersome, and interrupted by the 2010 earthquake there.  Ron and Sherry first met the boys by Skype in 2012, and Sherry managed to visit them in April 2013.  Finally, after what seemed like interminable delays, the adoption was completed and the boys were brought to their new home in Virginia on May 1, 2014.  Most of you know that Ron continues his important work as the Executive Director of the American Statistical Association (the largest organization of statisticians in the world, by the way).

 Lin Xie (PhD’12) was invited by to apply for tenure in her home department of Aquaculture and Fisheries at the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff.  The application went through without a hitch and in March the Board of Regents approved her tenure, effective July of this year.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *