New Working Groups Generate Research Momentum

Even though the pandemic thwarted many activities in the Fall, three new working groups in the Department of Statistics generated research excitement in the areas of environmental biostatistics, data science and SAS programming.

The Environmental Biostatistics Working Group, led by Josh Keller, Matt Koslovsky, Zach Weller, and Ander Wilson, seeks to build collaboration and community among faculty and students working in biostatistics with application in environmental and public health. The group started in Fall of 2020 and grew out of recent hiring in the area of environmental epidemiology and environmental biostatistics. Currently, six M.S./Ph.D. students are participating in monthly meetings, which focus on students presenting work in progress and paper discussions. This year, students presented their research on novel interpretable machine learning methods for perinatal environmental health and Bayesian models for environmental justice among other topics. The group is open to anyone working in or interested in environmental biostatistics and related areas.

The Data Science and Statistical Learning Journal Club (DSSL) seeks to foster discussion of cutting edge research in data science and big data problems. The group was formed by Andee Kaplan, Wen Zhou and Haonan Wang, and began meeting in Fall 2020. The main goals of the journal club are to broaden understanding of new research as well as encourage more interactions between students and faculty. The meetings are centered on discussing research articles. Past topics have included neural networks, causal inference and graphical models, and differential privacy. The group is also open to anybody who is interested in joining and they look forward to continuing vibrant discussions in Fall 2021.

Researchers across campus have requested workshops related to SAS, and the department no longer offers coursework that includes SAS software. Julia Sharp formed a working group that discusses the basics of SAS programming, towards base SAS certification. The participants in the working group include students and faculty from the Department of Statistics and departments around the university. They use SAS Studio to support their programming needs.