Welcome from the Chair

Portrait of Jay Breidt, interim chair of statistics.

We have many new and exciting things to report in the Department of Statistics: new undergraduate courses and sequences that ensure every student can find success in the statistics curriculum; a growing Statistics major and the active Stat Alliance club; new graduate courses for researchers in other disciplines; award-winning Statistics graduate students and alumni; four new faculty members and new research directions; and the list goes on! Please have a look at this newsletter to learn about some of these exciting developments and stay tuned for the Spring newsletter to hear more.

While we were saddened by the loss of colleagues this year, we were reminded that CSU Statistics has built a great community. This was especially reflected in this summer’s alumni mixer at the Joint Statistical Meetings in Denver and in this fall’s College of Natural Sciences Scholarship Luncheon. Thank you to all of our alumni and friends for your fantastic support of the Department of Statistics, and best wishes to all of you!

Jay Breidt, Interim Chair of Statistics

Department News

New researchers conference brings future leaders in statistics to CSU

Bailey Fosdick, assistant professor, awards Po-Ling Loh, associate professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison, with the Tweedie New Researcher Award.

Assistant Professors Bailey Fosdick and Ander Wilson organized the 21st meeting of the Institute for Mathematical Statistics New Researchers Conference (NRC) prior to the Joint Statistical Meetings. The annual conference was held this July in CSU’s Canvas Stadium. The NRC brought 60 promising new researchers in the field of statistics to campus for networking and career development. Leading statisticians—including IMS President Xiao-Li Meng and President-Elect Susan Murphy, both from Harvard University, and CSU faculty members Drs. Jennifer Hoeting, Mevin Hooten, and Julia Sharp—provided career advice to the new researchers. The conference put a spotlight on CSU while developing future leaders in statistics and data science.

Applied Graduate Student Courses

The Statistics department is excited to offer new applied Statistics graduate courses for non-Statistics students starting this year. The new 2-credit courses will benefit students by expanding available topics and increasing flexibility beyond the popular STAT 511 and STAT 512 courses (Design and Data Analysis for Researchers I and II, respectively). This year, five new courses will be offered, including Data Wrangling and Visualization, Multivariate Analysis, Regression Models, Experimental Design, and Generalized Linear Models. Future planned courses include Survival Analysis and Machine Learning, both of which are in high demand. The Certificate Programs offered by Statistics are being changed to reflect the changes to the graduate applied statistics curriculum. Like STAT 511 and STAT 512, it is expected that these courses will be of interest to non-CSU students and will likely be offered via distance learning. These courses continue the department’s collaborative role in education and research at CSU.

Recent Ph.D. Scharf receives Savage Award at Joint Statistical Meetings

Joyee Ghosh, University of Iowa; Michael Daniels, University of Florida; and Henry Scharf, CSU alumnus and recipient of the Savage Award celebrate at the Joint Statistical Meetings.

During the Joint Statistical Meetings this summer, CSU alumnus Henry Scharf was presented with the Savage Award – an honor given to only two recent Ph.D. graduates in the world each year – for his outstanding dissertation in Bayesian statistics. His dissertation, titled “Statistical Models for Dependent Trajectories with Applications to Animal Movement,” won the award for Applied Methodology, given for a dissertation that makes outstanding contributions with novel Bayesian analysis of a substantive problem that has potential to impact statistical practice in a field of application. Henry was advised by Professor Mevin Hooten, and is now an assistant professor at San Diego State University.

Alumni mixer

As part of the Joint Statistical Meeting in Denver, CSU held an alumni mixer and conversation attended by 60 people.

“It was a fun event to socialize with other students who had been to CSU, and I thought it was a good networking opportunity,” said David Brown, a fourth-year Ph.D. student in statistics.

Among the notable alumni in attendance were four elected Fellows of the American Statistical Association.

George Milliken received three degrees from CSU – including one of the earliest Ph.D. degrees awarded by the Department of Statistics – and is best known as a co-author of the three-volume series Analysis of Messy Data, which he wrote with fellow alumnus Dallas Johnson. Milliken is now an emeritus professor in statistics at Kansas State University.

Snehalata Huzurbazar received her Ph.D. in statistics from CSU. Huzurbazar’s research focuses on statistical genetics and applications of statistics to geology. She is the chair of the biostatistics department at West Virginia University School of Public Health.

Ed Mulrow also received his Ph.D. in statistics from CSU. He is now the Vice President of Statistics and Methodology of NORC, the nonpartisan and objective research organization at the University of Chicago.

Jeri Mulrow received her M.S. in statistics from CSU and is now the Vice President and Director of Statistical and Evaluation Sciences at Westat. The Mulrows recently established the Edward and Jeri Mulrow Scholarship to support graduate and advanced undergraduate students in statistics who intend to pursue careers in the public sector.

Alumni Spotlight – Scott Sanchez

Scott Sanchez, alumnus, celebrating his graduation.

Scott Sanchez graduated with his Master of Applied Statistics in 2018. Sanchez was an online student of the program, working full-time as a high school math teacher in Cheyenne, WY while earning his M.A.S. He really liked having the ability to watch the lectures as time allowed while still making connections with his M.A.S. peers. Scott spent 19 years in education prior to making a career change. He credits Jana Anderson, professor, with support in navigating the process to allow him to graduate in two years. After graduation, Scott spent another year in education before being hired in the spring of 2019 as a Data Analyst at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming. The impact of the M.A.S. degree on his career has been incredible – allowing him to make a career change and work in a new and exciting field.

Meet the New Statistics Faculty Members and Professors 

Kirsten Eilertson

Kirsten Eilertson, new statistics faculty member.
Kirsten Eilertson, new statistics faculty member.

Kirsten Eilertson is originally from Minnesota. She is an applied statistician who graduated from St. Olaf College with a bachelor’s degree in math and from Cornell University with a doctoral degree in statistics. After working for two years as a biostatistician at the Gladstone Institutes at UC San Francisco, she joined the Statistics Department faculty at Penn State in 2013. At Penn State, in addition to teaching and research, Dr. Eilertson helped lead the Statistical Consulting Center and trained students in the stat graduate programs in statistical consulting. Her recent research has focused on modeling the impact of vaccination programs on disease burden in low- and middle-income countries. In her free time, you may find her planning her next travel itinerary, hiking with her dog and husband, or optimistically re-reading George RR Martin books.

Ben Shaby

Ben Shaby, new statistics faculty member.
Ben Shaby, new statistics faculty member.

Ben Shaby is an Assistant Professor of Statistics. His work focuses on developing statistical theory and methods to study extreme weather events and high-throughput biological experiments. He works with climate scientists, hydrologists, and wildfire scientists in academia and government to understand and mitigate the risks associated with rare, high-impact events. Dr. Shaby was the recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER award in 2018 and the American Statistical Association Section on Statistics and the Environment’s Early Career Investigator Award in 2016. He completed his Ph.D. at Cornell University in 2009 and held postdoctoral appointments at Duke University and UC Berkeley. Since his attempt to grow a beard was met with derision, he is trying to establish his Colorado bona fides by learning to slackline – without much success so far.

Andee Kaplan

Andee Kaplan, new statistics faculty member.
Andee Kaplan, new statistics faculty member.

Andee Kaplan is a statistician working at the intersection of statistics and computing. She completed her Ph.D. in Statistics in 2017 at Iowa State University working with Daniel Nordman and Stephen Vardeman. She also holds an M.S. in Statistics from Iowa State University and an M.A. and B.S. in Mathematics from The University of Texas at Austin. After two years as a postdoctoral associate with Rebecca Steorts in the Department of Statistical Science at Duke University, Dr. Kaplan joined the CSU Statistics faculty in August 2019. Her research interests lie in the application of statistical methodology to solve large social science problems, particularly those with complex dependence. Dr. Kaplan likes struggling with JavaScript and learning new languages, R being her first love. She enjoys climbing, hiking, and riding bikes and is loving all the opportunities to be outside in and around Fort Collins.

Grace Ivins

Grace Ivins, new statistics faculty member.
Grace Ivins, new statistics faculty member.

Grace Ivins is a new member of the statistics department teaching faculty. She received her B.A. in Mathematics from the University of Oklahoma and her Masters in Statistics at CSU. Her focus is developing and teaching STAT 100: Statistical Literacy, a new course that fulfills the quantitative reasoning general education requirement for all CSU students. She is particularly interested in classroom strategies that encourage students who lack mathematical confidence to see statistics as a discipline distinct from mathematics and to embrace statistics as a set of valuable life skills. In her spare time, she enjoys reading just about anything, healthy recipe development, and hiking.

In Memoriam

Remembering Dr. Paul W. Meilke, Jr.

Paul W. Meilke, Jr., Professor Emeritus.
Paul W. Meilke, Jr., Professor Emeritus.

Professor Emeritus Paul W. Mielke, Jr., passed away in Fort Collins on April 20, 2019. Paul was born in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1931. After receiving his Ph.D. in 1963 from the University of Minnesota, Paul joined CSU’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics in 1964 and remained with the Department of Statistics when it split off from Mathematics in 1971. Paul retired as Professor Emeritus in 2002.

Prior to his graduate studies, Paul served for four years as a meteorologist in the Air Force. This early experience influenced his later collaborations with atmospheric science, advancing the use of nonparametric methods. Paul is best known and highly cited for his work on Multiple Response Permutation Procedures (MRPP). Along with Ken Berry, professor, Paul developed and applied these methods to many scientific problems: in ecology, environmental sciences, sociology, and education, among others. Paul and Ken, walking across campus while engaged in animated conversation, were a familiar sight at CSU for many years.

Paul will be remembered as a kind and welcoming person. He enjoyed hiking in Switzerland, playing bridge, singing light opera, and spending time with his family. Paul is survived by his wife Bobbie, three children (William, Emily, and Lynn) and six grandchildren.

Remembering Dr. Eileen Boardman

Eileen Boardman, professor.
Eileen Boardman, professor.

We mourn the loss of a strong supporter of CSU and our department, Dr. Eileen Boardman, who passed away in October of 2018 at the age of 76 after a valiant fight with cancer. During the 1970’s and 1980’s, Eileen taught introductory statistics courses for our department and was widely known for her dedication and pragmatic approaches to teaching. She also taught in the department of Mechanical Engineering and in the College of Business. In 1986, Eileen was the first woman to receive a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from CSU. She then co-founded Boardman Associates which became a leader in the application of industrial statistics to solve real problems. Eileen is survived by her husband of 54 years, Emeritus Professor of Statistics Thomas Boardman, her two sons, and five grandchildren.