2022 Statistics Newsletter
Message from the Chair
Dear Statistics Alumni,
Another eventful academic year at GW is coming to a close! In fall 2021, the students returned to on-campus education after more than a year of remote learning. It has been wonderful to see students that we had only previously met online and to greet the incoming class face-to-face.
It has also been exciting to see how faculty are integrating innovative tools and approaches they adopted for online teaching to supplement how they engage with students in the classroom. Although the circumstances since spring 2020 have been tremendously challenging, we are taking what we learned and applying it to strengthen how we teach going forward.
In fall 2020, we welcomed Dr. Fang Jin to our department. Her research focuses on using machine learning and data mining to identify new insights that can be used to improve outcomes across a wide range of social goods, including public health. This is just one example of how we are expanding the tools and opportunities available to students to make positive impacts through their work.
This is an exciting time for statistics, our department and the university. Statisticians have never been more relevant to helping solve the problems of the world than they are today. In early April, we celebrated Stats Day, which included a presentation from Dr. Dean Follmann, who works for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Dr. Follman spoke on the cutting-edge statistical methods behind the Moderna vaccine clinical trial, as well as workshops, student presentations and poster sessions. The GW Student chapter of the American Statistical Association is resuming activities, including holding a panel featuring alumni, student seminars and a datathon in January in collaboration with the Data Science program. We hope you will be able to join us for future events, including the alumni reception at the Joint Statistics Meeting in August.
The department is incredibly proud of the resilience, creativity and diligence that our community has demonstrated over the past two years. A great deal of hard work made it possible to continue to meet our educational goals and sustain academic activities. We are also thrilled to see the ongoing successes of our alumni, some of which are highlighted below. We are extremely grateful to many whose generous donations of time and money have contributed to the success of our students and our academic programs. Thank you for your support and involvement. We look forward to seeing you and hope you will stay in touch both in-person and through LinkedIn.
Dr. Huixia Judy Wang to Deliver 2022 IMS Medallion Lecture
Professor of Statistics Huixia Judy Wang was named by the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (IMS) as one of the 2022 IMS Medallion Lecturers. Each Medallion Lecturer will receive a medallion in a brief ceremony preceding the lecture in August. The IMS gives awards to recognize individuals who have excelled in a number of ways. Dr. Wang will be giving the Medallion Lecture titled “Extreme Conditional Quantiles” at the Joint Statistical Meetings.
Dr. Wang has been serving as a rotating program director in the Division of Mathematical Sciences of the National Science Foundation since September 2018. Besides the statistics program, she also has managed various multidisciplinary programs such as Transdisciplinary Research in Principles of Data Science Phase II (TRIPODS), DMS/NIGMS, Algorithms for Threat Detection (ATD), Algorithms for Modern Power Systems (AMPS), Mathematical and Scientific Foundations of Deep Learning (MODL), Smart Health and Biomedical Research in the Era of Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Data Science (SCH), etc. Dr. Wang will be returning to the department in fall 2022.
Qing Pan Wins Prestigious Gertrude M. Cox Award
Professor of Statistics Qing Pan won the prestigious Gertrude M. Cox award. This award recognizes a statistician in their early to mid-career who has made significant contributions to one or more of the areas of applied statistics in which Gertrude Cox worked: survey methodology, experimental design, biostatistics and statistical computing.
Dr. Pan conducts applied and methodological research motivated by real world problems particularly in biostatistics. She is a co-investigator on the Diabetes Prevention Project (DPP) study and the Statistical and Data Management Center (SDMC) for the Antibacterial Resistance Leadership Group (ARLG). She has developed statistical methodologies for selection bias, correlated longitudinal and survival processes, interval censored screening data, diagnostic studies and gene networks based on similarity and connectivity. A Lancet paper by Dr. Leigh Perreault and Dr. Pan discovered that the key to battle diabetes is to maintain or return to normal glucose tolerance. Another Statistics in Medicine paper from Dr. Pan and her collaborators at NCI propose risk prediction methods for interval censored cancer screening data which is employed in estimating prevalence of cervical cancer by pharmaceutical companies. Dr. Pan also applies biostatistical methods in the legal fields and develops procedures for detecting discrimination in jury selection, equal employment cases and the monetary award for prevailing plaintiffs. She has served as an expert witness for the Department of Justice, Department of Labor and private firms. Dr. Pan is a devoted mentor to students and junior faculty. She delivered the Cox Lecture at a virtual event on June 9.
Alumni Class Notes
- Farzana Bakhtiary, BA ’20, was a business intelligence analyst at Goldman Sachs in New York after graduating from GW. After a year at Goldman Sachs, she moved to Seattle to work at BlackRock.
- Yu Cao, MS ’21, lives in Virginia and works as a data analyst in SLCG.
- Jorge Chang Rossi, MS ’07, went back to Chile in 2007, worked in the local capital market for eight years and now has developed a career in consulting.
- Susan Ellenberg, MPhil '76, PhD '80, was recently awarded the ASA Karl Peace Award. She delivered the 2022 Dresden Lectures at Swarthmore College and currently serves on the Data and Safety Monitoring Board for the NIH-sponsored studies of Covid-19 vaccines.
- John Fee, MS ’22, started working as a senior consultant at Guidehouse.
- John Fenton, BS ’80, used his statistics degree as an entry into the actuarial profession. He achieved his FSA and spent most of his career at Willis Towers Watson.
- Yihe Huang, PhD ’21, is now in Boston and started his career in the pharmaceutical industry as a biostatistician.
- Charlie Leizear, BS ’07, was named dean of admission at Occidental College in Los Angeles, Calif., in the summer of 2021. As assistant vice president and dean of admission, Charlie leads the team responsible for recruiting and selecting applicants to the college from around the globe.
- Bingjun Li, MS ’17, is pursuing a PhD in computer science at the University of Connecticut.
- Dr. Yang Liu, PhD ’22, won the 2022 Fritz Scheuren Leadership and Service award, an annual award given by the Department of Statistics to recognize contribution to student life by GW students in statistics or biostatistics. In fall 2022, Dr. Liu will join the Institute of Statistics and Big Data, at Renmin University of China in Beijing.
- Wan-Cheng Liao, MS ’19, is a data science consultant at EY Business Advisory.
- Siyuan Liu, MS ’17, is an associate in Risk Modeling at Santander Bank, N.A., located in Boston, Mass.
- Shiyang Liu, MS ’15, is a senior research analyst at Truth Initiative, a nonprofit public health organization that focuses on tobacco and nicotine control. He plays an important role as the lead analyst in the company's research department.
- Sam Luxenberg, PhD ’22, won the GW 2022 Teaching award, an annual award given by the department to recognize outstanding teaching and mentoring by a PhD student.
- Camryn McGrath, BS ’21, remains in D.C. working as an economic consultant at Edgeworth Economics.
- Ming Ni, MS ’18, is an enrollment and financial aid analyst at Boston College. She recently started taking MBA classes.
- Jake Ottley, BS ’21, is an analyst at Deloitte in Government and Public Services.
- Ben Porter, MS ’09, is leading the development of Bank of America's new initial line assignment model, which will be used to allocate initial credit limits on new cards totaling to $29B each year.
- William F. Rosenberger, PhD ’92, has been elected the North American editor of the tier-1 biostatistical methodology journal Biometrics for 2021-2024. He has two books on the subject, Randomization in Clinical Trials: Theory and Practice (Wiley, 2002), and The Theory of Response Adaptive Randomization in Clinical Trials (Wiley, 2006).
- Kimberly Sellers, PhD ’01, a full professor of mathematics and statistics at Georgetown University, was elected a Fellow of the American Statistical Association in 2021. She was the 2022 Black History Month Feature, University of Kentucky.
- Jiaxing Tan, MS ’17, works in the technical industry in China and plans to return to the U.S. soon.
- John Thomas, MS ’20, is a data scientist at Endeavor, home of WME, the oldest talent agency in the world, as well as UFC, Miss America, IMG and many other familiar brands.
- Hui (Wendy) Wen, BS ’20, will join the PhD program in health and biomedical data science at GW this fall.
- Wayne Woo, MS ’21, is a senior level statistician at Novavax, supporting development of a COVID-19 vaccine.
- Zihang Xu, MS ’19, is now in his PhD program in WPI.
- Mengchen (Peter) Yan, MS ’19, joined PwC as a senior associate in April 2022 after two years working as a consultant at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He is—and always will be—grateful for the knowledge and kindness received during his two brief years at GW.
- Laura Yee, BS ’08, was recently elected to serve as the 2023 chair-elect for the ASA Section on Medical Devices and Diagnostics.
- Panpan Zhang, PhD ’16, will join the Department of Biostatistics in the School of Medicine at Vanderbilt University as a tenure track assistant professor of biostatistics in September 2022. He will become a core faculty member at the Vanderbilt Memory and Alzheimer’s Center, with a secondary appointment to their Department of Neurology.
Professors Fang Jin and Xiaoke Zhang, participating in an interdisciplinary team led by Professor James Hahn from the GW School of Engineering & Applied Science, were awarded a $2.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to determine whether 3D optical scans could show a direct correlation between body shape and liver health. Their research was highlighted in GW Today.
Professor Joseph Gastwirth was on sabbatical for the 2021-2022 academic year, during which he continued his research on statistical procedures for examining data arising in equal employment cases and related investigations. He was invited to do a podcast with the Statistical Stories series on the topic of his paper, “The Changing Face of Wealth Inequality in the USA,” that was published in Significance, which is one of the most widely circulated statistical magazines.
Professor Hosam Mahmoud was nominated by the students for the 2021-2022 CCAS Award for Excellence in the Mentoring of Graduate Students.
Mr. Wu Xue, a doctoral student of Professor Xiaoke Zhang, won the 2022 Minna Mirin Kullback Memorial Prize for Research and Scholarship, an annual award given by the GW Department of Statistics to recognize excellent research by GW PhD students in statistics or biostatistics.
Dr. Xiaoke Zhang was awarded a George Washington University Facilitating Fund (UFF) as the PI to study RKHS-Based covariate balancing for functional treatments in observational studies. He was also awarded a four-year National Institutes of Health grant as a Co-I to study advancing 3D optical body surface scan technology to assess physiological and psychological effects in highly obese population. He co-authored the paper, "A wavelet-based independence test for functional data with an application to MEG functional connectivity," with his student collaborator for the Journal of the American Statistical Association (Theory & Methods). Dr. Zhang was also nominated for the Keeny Award. The award committee elected to recognize his contributions with an "Honorable Mention" for the Kenny Prize.