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

The front of the statistics building on a sunny day.

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.

Along with Scharf, members of the CSU statistics community were well represented at the meetings, with more than 25 CSU alumni, faculty, and students presenting during sessions. This annual event, held at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver this year, is the largest gathering of statisticians and data scientists in North America and is attended by more than 6,500 people from 52 countries.

The meetings are an opportunity for statistics professionals to discuss wide-ranging topics from methodology and theory to analytics and data science. Certain presentations focused on how statistics can be used to benefit other fields.

“One of those sessions was about using statistics in criminology,” said Manatautas Rimkus, a second-year Ph.D. student in statistics who attended the meetings. “I was really surprised how [criminology] can rely on high-level statistics.”

Alumni mixer

As part of the meetings, 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.