Kansas State University


Department of Statistics

Alumni News (2016)

John E. Boyer Jr.
John E. Boyer Jr.

Welcome to the Alumni News column written by Dr. John Boyer, Professor Emeritus and former department head (2001-08). Dr. Boyer spends a good bit of his time looking after the family farm in Nebraska, where he and his wife Lora will reside in the near future. This column is his excuse and opportunity to communicate with graduates and friends of the department; a task he enjoys thoroughly.  He hopes that all graduates hear about the column and email news pieces (new jobs, relocations, family developments, etc. that they would like to see included in the newsletter) to him at jboyer@ksu.edu. Don’t hesitate to email John any time, even to just say ‘howdy’.  He’d love to hear from you, and he saves information in the emails he receives for the subsequent newsletter.

Xiuqin Bai (PhD ‘15) is excited to announce that she has accepted a tenure track position in the Department of Mathematics at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, WA (that’s about 15 miles from Spokane).  She will begin teaching courses in statistics there this fall.

Wendy Boberg Archer (MS ‘04) has changed jobs within General Dynamics Health Solutions.  She received a nice promotion, but managed to keep her office.  She reports family life is going very nicely.

Marjorie Bond (PhD ‘96) will celebrate 20 years on the faculty at Monmouth College (IL) this fall.  This summer, with the assistance of an ASA membership Initiative grant, she and her college will host a workshop entitled Research on Statistics Attitudes.  On a personal note, she has added two elderly rescue dogs – named Muffy Marie and Buddy Lee – and now she claims to be running an old dog retirement home.

Rebhi Bsharat (PhD ’07) has now been with Quintiles for a year and a half and is excited for the learning and development he has undergone.  The sequence of children has continued as Rebhi and his wife have added a fifth daughter to the family – Banan is now 9 months old.

Shana Carter Palla (MS ‘99) is still working at the KU Medical Center, but is now physically located at the KU Edwards campus (located in Overland Park, KS). The medical center has partnered with the Edwards campus to offer a new 100% online MS in Applied Statistics and Analytics degree program – Shana is the administrator of that program. She still goes back to the medical center campus to teach BIOS 704 – an introductory statistics course for non-majors – as well as ANOVA.

Kevin Chartier (PhD ’97) reports that he is still working for Astellas in Chicago but living on a lake property near Ann Arbor, MI (nasty commute!!)  His youngest is now at Michigan State studying engineering.  Daughter Jessica has just finished her first year as a grade school teacher. One of his twin sons is married with a four-year old, the other is going to tie the knot this fall. Wife Lori keeps all this straight and attempts to keep Kevin in line.

Bill Eisele (MS ’89) has celebrated his 25th anniversary as an employee of Hallmark in Kansas City.  He now visits college campuses to talk about his work with consumer behavior.  Three out of their four offspring have now graduated from high school (and they are all arts types, so Bill jokes that they have taken vows of poverty), but the youngest will be a sixth grader this fall (Bill predicts she’ll be sick of all the attention she’ll get with the others out of the house).

Eric Gibson (PhD ‘97) was appointed Global Head of Biostatistical Sciences and Pharamcometrics at Novartis Pharmaceuticals last year.  He now heads a team of 200 quantitative scientists spread across the globe.

John Harder (MS ‘92) has started a phased retirement agreement with his employer, the Ford Motor Company.  He will work through September.  He describes this as a difficult decision since he loves his work and has had the flexibility to work from home part time, but the freedom to travel and visit family and friends was a strong incentive.  He is recovering from issues with a chronically weak ankle which has limited his participation in one of his first loves – 1867-rules baseball, which he has participated in for 18 years (he’s now relegated to umpire duty in this sport).  He will be in Kansas this fall for a wedding and to again attend the Winfield Bluegrass Festival – his 23rd year of participation.

John House (MS ‘01) took a new position last July with Premier, Inc., based in Charlotte, NC.  Premier provides services to hospitals to streamline healthcare.  John works for the Research Services department of the company (from his home in Kansas City), designing and analyzing studies from a huge database (EMR data, cost data) as a part of the input to the hospitals.

Kim Howell (MS ‘94) has switched jobs within the Microsoft Corporation in Seattle – says the new job has her much happier. Daughter Jaden’s health situation continues to be better, but they are always cautious. They are enjoying a summer road trip on Highway 1 in California – LA to Seattle.

G.B . (Brent) Johnson (MS ‘06) is still in the Twin Cities.  He is currently working for a non-profit organization called St. Stephen’s in downtown Minneapolis, whose mission is to treat all people with respect and compassion, give second chances and ultimately house the homeless.  He works in the Contracts and Grants Office as a Data Reporting Specialist, but he also serves unofficially as the CT guru.  He’s working hard at organizing and cleaning up data, training users, documenting policies and procedures, and bringing order to a system direly In need of order.

Chris Juarez (MS ‘12) has had a very busy time since moving to Aurora, CO and joining the faculty in the Department of Mathematics at the Community College of Aurora. He was recently named Faculty of the Year for 2015-2016. He also chaperoned a group of students to the Model United Nations in New York City, where they won honorable mention for their representation of their selected country (Republic of Korea). And last, but by no means least, he has been named the new chair of the Department of Mathematics, beginning this summer. (Say goodbye to summer vacations, Chris!). In addition to all of the academic work, Chris has found time to be named a Level 1 trainer in the CrossFit program.

Fouzia Laytimi (MS ‘04) has been living in Austria for the last several years.  Last year she took a new job with a global construction company in their International Marketing department, dealing with their marketing strategies and data analysis in all 65 countries in which they operate.  She reports that it has been fun, a great learning experience (she has added German to her language repertoire since going to work here – she’s now fluent in 4 languages), and she has a terrific boss.  Meanwhile she loves living in the center of Europe with so many opportunities nearby.

Sarah Loyer Baxter (MS ‘01) is still making progress on her EdD at the University of Delaware.  This past semester she collected data from her 5 sections of introductory statistics courses (which she teaches at Rowan College of Gloucester County) in which she used a variety of assessment methods, including one she developed as a TA at K-State.  As a part of her dissertation, she will look for differences in performance (all sections took the same mid-term and the same final) as well as differences in attitude toward the subject.  She has one more course to take in her doctoral curriculum and hopes to finish everything off and graduate in December.  Meanwhile, she and husband Jason are also busy parents to three very active boys ages 8, 5½, and 13 months

Marty Levy (PhD ’82) Emeritus Professor at the University of Cincinnati since 2013, decided he hasn’t had enough.  So, he has returned as a Term Adjunct (the lowest form of academic bondage) to teach Statistical Models and Applied Linear Models this year.  He is also proud to announce that he is now the proud grandpa of a boy and a girl simultaneously arriving in February 2015 (yes, twins). This is the
second set of twins (the other pair is two girls) to whom his son Paul and daughter-in-law Kristan have been blessed.  You’re all statisticians…so what are the odds?

Chris Malone (PhD ‘02) reports that he was heavily involved with the implementation of a new Data Science Program recently implemented at his home institution, Winona State University.  This program will complement the existing undergraduate statistics program.   (He points out that Dr. Jim Higgins provided assistance in the development of this new program.)  Chris also served in 2014-2015 on the ASA taskforce responsible for updating the curriculum guidelines for undergraduate statistics programs.  ASA approved these new curriculum guidelines in Nov 2014.   An invited session devoted to these guidelines took place at the 2015 JSM.  In the area of family life, Chris tells us that oldest daughter Emma has now finished two years of college.   Some may remember she was a regular attendee of seminars the summer of 1995 — many of Chris’ peers were able to put her asleep while defending their thesis – and he extends a very belated thank you for that.

Karen McGaughey (PhD ‘03) has great news to report.  She has been promoted to (full) Professor in the Department of Statistics at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.  Congratulations, Karen!

Peter Njuho (PhD ‘95) is now the acting as the head of the department of statistics in the University of South Africa (UNISA). This is one of the oldest open learning universities in South Africa, with a capacity of over 300,000 students enrolled around the world. It has given him an opportunity to learn how to develop online teaching material.   He finds it most interesting with room for innovation of effective teaching methods. His term as one of the directors of the International Biometrics Society ended last year after serving 6 years.  On the family side, his two sons Edwin and Matthew have done well. Edwin is currently on a one year job exchange in London with Anglo-American Mining Company as a Chartered Accountant, while Matthew will complete his degree in Medicine at the University of Cape Town in December. So Peter and wife feel blessed.

Ebenezer Ogunyinka (MS ‘11) has taken a faculty position with South Louisiana Community College on its New Iberia campus and is delighted to be back in academia.

 Mollie Poehlman Roediger (MS ‘03) has gravitated back to academia.  After 2 years with Medtronic, she has moved back to the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

Rhonda Ragual (MS ‘88) has been enjoying her retirement for two years now. Her last employment was with the consulting company Experis (formerly Comsys/Trilogy) working remotely from her home in Kalamazoo for Amgen in California for five years. Before joining Experis she was with Upjohn/Pharmacia/Pfizer for 16 years, then worked short stints with PPD (a CRO) and MPI (nonclinical). Since her retirement, she’s been fortunate enough to have time to travel – she’s been to Mexico, Spain, Japan, Vietnam, Australia, Hungary, and her native Philippines. In addition to travel, she has enjoyed cooking, playing golf, and meditating. Her children are growing up fast – son Jacob will be a junior in college and daughter Julia will be a junior in high school this fall.

There is sad news to pass along regarding Jeff Rahenkamp (MS ‘80). Jeff passed away in December with complications from prostate cancer.  Jeff had worked in the advanced analytics area for Highmark, Inc. in Pittsburgh.

Nishantha Samarakoon (PhD ‘11))  is on the faculty in the Department of Statistics at Oklahoma State University  where he is a Visiting Assistant Professor.  His research interests focus on Nonparametric modelling, Measurement of Errors in Models and Multivariate Statistical Methods.  He is currently teaching Statistics for Experimenters I, II for graduate students and Engineering Statistics for undergraduate students.  His wife, Disna is currently reading for her PhD in Materials Science & Engineering at the OSU campus in Tulsa. Their 3+ years old son, Matheesha is going to a daycare and is readying for Pre-K in September.

Mohammad Sahtout (PhD ’15) and his family spent better than a month seeing parts of the U.S. immediately after his defense.  They then left for Abu Dhabi where Mohammad has a position as a Statistics Specialist with the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority.  He indicates he and his family miss the snows of Kansas, but the blue waters of the Persian Gulf are also nice.

Elizabeth Schreiber (MS ‘94) is still in the DC metro area, working for the IRS.  She is quite active in the DC SAS Users Group, and is planning to volunteer at the SouthEast SAS Users Group regional conference which will be held in Bethesda, MD near her home this coming October.

Shyamalee Serasinghe (MS ’11) has now finished five years as a statistician at Quintiles.  She has been promoted to Senior Biostatistician.

Danelle Schuster Staebler (MS ‘03) has a relatively new job at Border States Electric as a Senior Cost Analyst in Procurement.  It was a big move from analyzing healthcare data to electrical supply data, … but she says data are data.  Danelle and her family (husband Bart, son Sam, and daughter Elsa) are still in Fargo and loving it.

Matt Strand (PhD ‘98) continues his work at National Jewish Health as well as his teaching at the University of Colorado-Denver.  Family life with three between the ages of 11 and 15 keeps him and his wife hopping with baseball, dance, acting, and all the social events of teens and pre-teens.

Bo Tong (PhD ‘16) and wife Shu Zhou (MS ’15) have been enjoying life in Chicago since last fall, although they are not enamoured of Chicago winters. Bo works at AbbVie Pharmaceuticals and Shu works for Discover International. And their other big news is that they are expecting a baby to join the family in December.

Govinda Weerakkody (PhD ’88) is still at Eli Lilly, working on cardiovascular drug development.  The last drug he was involved in development for is now on the market under the brand name Effient – a drug often prescribed after getting a stent following a heart attack.  It was a huge task.  His daughter is an engineering student at the University of Illinois, and his son just graduated from high school with hopes of studying biomedical engineering in college.

Nimal Wickremasinghe (PhD ’95) was the Chief Editor of the online Sri Lankan Journal of Applied Statistics from January, 2015 through May, 2016.  His daughter Navindee Charya graduated with Ph.D. in Chemistry from the Rice University, Houston in May 2016 and the family was there for  the hooding ceremony. (Navindee attended 2nd and 3rd grades at Marlatt Elementary School in Manhattan.)  A new job is waiting for her in San Diego. Right now Nimal is spending his latest sabbatical locally.  He indicates that he is looking to spend the spring semester of 2017 teaching for Tom Loughin in the Department of Statistics & Actuarial Science of the Simon Fraser University, BC, Canada; they are still working on the details but he is looking forward to it.

Sam Wilson (MS ’06) finally (!!!) finished off his doctoral dissertation in Statistics at North Carolina State University in December.  Congratulations, Sam!!  His research was entitled “Molecular Evolution Model Selection and Averaged Estimators”.  Sam and wife Kris are now in the Chicago area, where he works for Astellas Pharmaceuticals in medical affairs as the lead statistician for oncology, transplants, and infectious diseases.

Yi (Kaylin) Zhang (MS ’11) joined Bank of America even before she graduated. She has been with them in Charlotte, NC for 5 years now. On Valentine’s Day she got married to Robert Lee.

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