June 2024 Newsletter

A summer scene of Ford Hall on the Northrop Mall

Dear alumni and friends,

The spring semester wrapped up nicely, culminating in several events involving the School of Statistics and the Institute for Research in Statistics and its Applications (IRSA). We share highlights from those events below, alongside notable achievements from our gifted alumni, students, and faculty. 

Recent News Highlights

Our student spotlight provides a look at how some recent PhD students are making use of their degrees, spanning work in industry, research, and academia.

IRSA Conference

IRSA’s Annual Conference took place May 30-31, and was focused on “New Perspectives on the Analysis of Complex Multivariate Data.” Roughly 60 attendees convened in Walter Library to discuss methods for the analysis of dependent, high-dimensional, and/or complex data. The event featured 16 talks and a poster competition.

A group of nearly 40 attendees at the 2024 IRSA Conference
Participants from the 2024 Annual IRSA Conference gather for a quick photo.

Spring Research Workshop

IRSA helped to sponsor and organize the Data Science Initiative’s Spring Research Workshop on Generative AI, featuring three days of presentations and conversations centered around the themes of “GenAI Foundations and UMN Capabilities,” “GenAI and Public Policy and Societal Impacts,” and “GenAI and Health Data.” Keynote talks were presented by Harvard University’s Dr. Xiao-Li Meng, Yale University’s Dr. Lucila Ohno-Machado, and the Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon

Group photo of Benjamin Lynch, Hayley Borck, Steve Simon, David Maeda, and Galin Jones with a graphic reading Spring 2024 Spring Research Workshop
From left to right: Director of the UMN Minnesota Supercomputing Institute Benjamin Lynch, Data Science Initiative Managing Director Hayley Borck, Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, Minnesota State Elections Director David Maeda, and Data Science Initiative Chair and School of Statistics Professor Galin Jones.

Alumna Efstathia Bura (PhD ‘96) was announced as co-editor-in-chief of the International Statistical Review (ISR), the flagship journal of the International Statistics Institute (ISI). Her leadership will no doubt contribute to the ISI's mission of advancing the field of statistics globally.

Alumnus Lingzhou Xue (PhD ‘12) was elected Fellow to the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, an honor that comes on the heels of being elected Fellow to the American Statistical Association in 2023. Xue’s recognitions cite his outstanding research contributions and leadership in the field of statistics.

Associate Professor Jie Ding was featured in an article by the UMN Research and Innovation Office for his work partnering with University academics and Cisco industry professionals in a productive and evolving exploration of machine learning.

Yet to Come This Summer

The School of Statistics and the School of Mathematics have teamed up again to bring high school students STEM opportunities at <RUN>:\THE\WORLD Machine Learning Summer Day Camp. Since launching in 2018, this summer camp has provided important and engaging learning opportunities for its high school participants.

Many campers return year after year, and organizers are now beginning to see their futures taking shape. For instance, camper Delanna Do attended in 2019 and has since gone on to pursue a PhD in topographical data analysis. She reflects on her experience: “When I first signed up for this camp, I had no idea what ML even was. In fact, I didn't even like statistics or data science. I had only signed up because I wanted to learn more about Python. However, that short one-week period left a large impact on my life. I got to meet a wonderful batch of brilliant women and became really inspired to keep working at ML. I continued to study data science once I started college.” Read “Machine Learning Summer Camp Creates Possibilities" to learn more about camp goals and participant experiences.

We will be in touch again in the fall, reinvigorated to head into another school year. Between now and then, please share your updates so we can continue to celebrate your news with our community.

Warm regards,

Xiaotong Shen
Professor and Interim Director, School of Statistics

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