Kansas State University


Department of Statistics

From the Department Head’s Desk

Greetings from the K-State Department of Statistics.  This past year has been yet another year of significant activities within the department.  A departmental draft strategic plan consistent with the university’s visionary goal of being recognized as one of the nation’s Top 50 Public Research Universities by the year 2025 was submitted to the College this past May.  Key activities include an increased focus on interdisciplinary research and high impact projects while not eschewing core statistical research, enhancing the undergraduate majors program, developing an improved program for quality graduate student recruitment, streamlining the current online graduate offerings and adding courses built around K-State 2025 directions, and developing a marketing plan for the department.   As the refined version becomes available, complete with expected short term, intermediate and long term outcomes, it will be posted on the department website. As always, faculty members have been engaged in many scholarly activities this past year, including participation at national and international research conferences, conducting interdisciplinary collaborations and supervising our large (55) group of graduate students.  During the 2012-2013 school year, twenty students earned MS degrees along with six PhD graduates.  In addition, with funding from the College, significant instructional technology upgrades are underway, including the placement of new high-end computers in the graduate student lab making the lab functional for students with today’s need for high performance statistical computing.   

The department is once again pleased to make several significant scholarship awards this past year to very deserving undergraduate and graduate students (please see related article in this newsletter for recipients).  The opportunity to award these scholarships, along with university Foundation Scholarships, greatly enhances the department’s ability to attract and retain qualified students planning a career in Statistics.   In addition, I would like to express deep appreciation to Dr. Ray Waller for recently establishing the Ray Waller Statistics Scholarship.  Ray is a former faculty member and statistician at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and very successful alum, having served as Executive Director of ASA as well as being named a Fellow of ASA and a recipient of the ASA Founder’s Award.  The faculty and students sincerely appreciate the support and generosity of all contributors to the important missions of the department.

We are pleased to announce Dr. Wei-Wen Hsu will be joining the faculty in the fall 2013 semester.   Wei-Wen earned his doctorate at Michigan State University with research interests in two-component mixture models, longitudinal and correlated data analysis, categorical data analysis, hierarchical models, latent class models, empirical processes and computational statistics, with biostatistical applications.  He has spent the two previous years working as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Michigan State University.  We look forward to his arrival in Manhattan this August. 

As we welcome new and returning faculty this fall term, we extend best wishes to Dr. Kun Chen who has accepted a faculty position at the University of Connecticut starting this fall term.  The move will allow both Kun and his wife Tingting professional opportunities.  While at K-State, Kun has been a very active researcher and teacher, and was instrumental in the development of a regular offering for a graduate level course covering high-dimensional data and statistical learning.   We very much appreciate his contributions to the department and university, and will miss his collegiality.

The department’s signature Conference on Applied Statistics in Agriculture was held this past spring in Manhattan.  The twenty-fifth annual conference featured keynote address and a technical workshop presented by Dr. Kevin Wright of Pioneer Hi-Bred / DuPont.  Dr. Wright’s well received workshop covered statistical graphics for agricultural data, and his keynote illustrated the necessity of including information on variation for enhanced understanding of statistical studies with many interesting examples.  The department looks forward to the next year’s conference at which Dr. Gustavo A. de los Campos of the Department of Biostatistics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham will present the keynote address and workshop.  Dr. de los Campos’ interest centers on statistical learning methods with emphasis on applications in quantitative genetics.

In closing, as I will be stepping out as department head at the end of June, I want to express my deep appreciation for everyone’s support during my term as head.   Serving as department head has truly been a privilege and a pleasure, and I will remain in the department with teaching and research interests.   Going forward, I am very pleased that Dr. Gary Gadbury has accepted the offer to be the next head of the statistics department.  He has been a strong contributor to the department, including teaching a wide range of graduate level classes, supervising several PhD students, conducting a very successful interdisciplinary research program, and providing noteworthy service on many department committees and to the discipline more broadly.  With 12 of the 14 faculty newly hired within the past 10 years, primarily due to retirements, the department has undergone significant transition and now looks forward to working with Gary to realize departmental K-State 2025 aspirations.   

If you happen to pass through the Flint Hills, please stop by the department for a visit.  Our alumni and friends are always welcome.

Jim Neill

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