Spring 2023 Newsletter

Photo of conference attendees on stairs in front of a brick building
Attendees of The Fast and the Curious: Modern Markov Chain Monte Carlo conference gather for a quick photo on the East Bank of the Twin Cities campus.

Dear alumni and friends,

I want to begin by extending a deep and sincere thank you to all our alumni and friends who have generously supported the school this year. The 2022-2023 period was a seminal one, owing partly to the establishment of some key strategic investments in our school, whose impacts will become apparent in the coming years. 

UMN Data Science Initiative Update

For now, I am happy to share updates on something I hinted at in the last newsletter; the UMN Data Science Initiative (DSI) has officially launched!

Rising interest in data science across disciplines has increased the number of data science activities across campus, leading to the creation of new degree programs and research institutes. The UMN Data Science Initiative is a systemwide, interdisciplinary infrastructure, created to coordinate, integrate, and amplify those activities throughout our campuses, in order to increase their visibility and impact. It will be housed in and report to, the Office of the Vice President for Research, but it will connect DSI activities and hubs across campus, such as the College of Liberal Arts DSI, and the College of Science and Engineering DSI.

It is being led by faculty in statistics, computer science, and medicine. At present, the UMN DSI is seeking applications for a managing director and setting up research subcommittees for topical focus areas. The UMN DSI website is still in its infancy, but I encourage you to follow its developments.

Recent News Highlights

Alumnus Thompson Aderinkomi, CEO and cofounder of Nice Healthcare, was a featured speaker at the U of M Alumni Association's annual celebration on April 28, 2023. His fellow speakers were AJ Paron, Mary Jo Kreitzer, and Pahoua Yang. 

We congratulate Professor Xiaotong Shen on being announced as the winner of the 2022 Distinguished Achievement Award by the International Chinese Statistical Association (ICSA). Shen’s recognition cites many achievements: “For fundamental and influential contributions in statistical theory and methodology, especially in machine learning, and non- and semi-parametric statistics; for excellent service to and leadership in statistical communities, including the International Chinese Statistical Association; for exemplifying mentorship of students and junior faculty.”

Two new faculty members will start in the fall as assistant professors. Welcome to Tianxi Li, from the University of Virginia, and Aaron Molstad, from the University of Florida. 

From May 18-20, the Institute for Research in Statistics and its Applications (IRSA) hosted “The Fast and the Curious: Modern Markov Chain Monte Carlo.” Over 20 scholars presented talks focused on recent developments in MCMC applications, methods, and theory, and the event was met with glowing feedback from those who attended. 

Support the Next Generation

Every year, statistics collaborates with the Minnesota Center for Financial and Actuarial Mathematics (MCFAM) to organize RUN THE WORLD, a Machine Learning Summer Camp. This camp introduces high school juniors and seniors to computer programming processes, ignites their curiosity about applications of machine learning, and encourages them to build on their interest in STEM and think about related career opportunities.

Low enrollment fees and participation incentives are made available to provide educational opportunities to those who would otherwise not have the means to attend. To make a financial contribution that gives all students access to this important learning opportunity, please consider making a donation. On the donation form, under special options/special instructions, please indicate "2023 Machine Learning Summer Day Camp."

Congratulations to Gary Oehlert

After 39 years on the faculty at the University of Minnesota School of Statistics, Gary Oehlert is retiring. Read about his time at the University in the article below, and send Gary a message of congratulations.

Enjoy the summer weather, and don’t forget to share news of your achievements and statistical endeavors with us at news@stat.umn.edu.

Warm regards,

Galin Jones
Professor and Director, School of Statistics

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