UGA Statistics Student Wins National Research Paper Competition

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Rhiannon Euhus is a fourth year undergraduate student in the Statistics department. This semester, Rhiannon participated in a national research paper competition with the American Society of Criminology’s Division on Women and Crime, and won an award for a research paper she wrote entitled “Health Status and Healthcare Access of Incarcerated Women.” She attended the conference in Philadelphia to accept the award. Rhiannon plans to pursue a Master’s degree in Statistics and a PhD in Epidemiology. She hopes to work for the CDC or WHO conducting health research.

Statistics Students Participate in SAMSI Undergraduate Workshop

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Between May 14 and 19, two students in UGA’s statistics program were among the 30 attendees at the annual undergraduate workshop hosted by the Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute (SAMSI). Shuchi Goyal and Rachel Zilinskas are both in their final year of undergraduate study at UGA and applied for the workshop, which was held at North Carolina State University, upon the recommendation of Dr. Abhyuday Mandal.

 

The workshop presented a rigorous introduction to applications of Bayesian statistics, including concepts such as time series, random forest designs, and data assimilation, in a broad set of areas ranging from music genre identification to searching for exoplanets. Throughout the workshop, participants gained experience using R and Python to conduct data analysis and worked in teams to present research projects at the end of the week. Goyal implemented and compared new data assimilation models for numerical weather predictions, while Zilinskas used random forest methods to classify stars based on light curve analysis.

 

In addition to the deep dive into the world of applied statistics, the workshop also offered opportunities for personal and professional development, as students met with directors of doctoral and master’s programs in the Research Triangle area. The overall experience provided a rich taste of the advancements being made in statistics research and unique insight into the rigorous thinking and focus involved in pursuing this path.

Dr. Lazar Named President-Elect of Caucus for Women in Statistics!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Nicole Lazar.jpgProfessor Nicole Lazar has been named President-Elect of the Caucus for Women in Statistics effective January 1 2018. She will serve as President of the Caucus in 2019.  The Caucus for Women in Statistics (CWS) fosters opportunities for the education, employment and advancement of women in statistics. It also promotes the increased participation of women in professional meetings and on governing boards and committees of statistical societies.

Congratulations to Dr. Lazar on being a part of this important movement and all her accomplishments!

Undergraduate Spotlight: Sarah Beth Robinson

Monday, May 15, 2017

Sarah Beth Robinson.jpgSarah Beth Robinson is an amazing undergraduate student in the University of Georgia's Department of Statistics. She just graduated in Spring 2017 and already has some big plans for the future. Sarah was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa on April 14th. She also will be working at Oak Ridge National Lab in Oak Ridge, TN this summer as a research intern in the Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Computing Group within the Computational Sciences and Engineering Division. Starting in Fall of 2017 Sarah will attend grad school at Rice University in Houston, Texas. Here she will be in their Statistics PhD program and will receive her funding through a NIH Biostatistics Training Grant. 

Congrats Sarah! We cannot wait to see what your future holds! 

Xin Xing Featured in UGA Spotlight

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Xin-Xing-Banner.jpg 

Xin Xing, a doctoral student in the Department of Statistics, uses advanced DNA sequencing technology to develop high-performance computation algorithms on the human microbiome – the collection of the many diverse types of micro-organisms that occupy almost every part of the human body.

Xing is especially interested in gut microbiome related to type-2 diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease.

“Many people know that diabetes can cause blindness, nerve pain, and lack of circulation in the limbs that can lead to amputation, Xing explains. “Fewer know that the disease can also contribute to problems throughout the digestive tract.”

For this reason, people with diabetes have a high risk of reflux, abdominal pain, nausea, ulcers, and diarrhea.

“While a lot of money has been invested on the genetic factors that affect diabetes, there is limited research on the environmental factors (such as the microbiome) that may contribute toward the disease,” says Xing.

“We know that the microbial distribution in the diabetes and the healthy gut is different. What we’d like to know is the causality- what changes are caused by the disease and how changes affect the course of the disease.”

Xing’s research is a balance between statistical methods and its application to real-world problems.

“Current technology allows us to collect more and more data, but also presents challenges for scientists to analyze this data and extract meaningful information from it.”

This balance between statistical theory and application, Xing explains, is why a doctoral degree from the University of Georgia was so appealing to him.

“The microbial world is very complex and like a mystery to me,” Xing says. “I’m looking for ways to use my statistics knowledge to understand the nature of microbiomes.”

Xing’s algorithm has been applied on two real-world data sets: one relating to type-2 diabetes patients and another to inflammatory bowel disease patients.

The algorithm successfully identified more than 2,000 microbial species, of which less than 10 percent have reference genomes available.

In total, 8 pathogenic microbial species have been identified by the algorithm. This includes 7 unknown species and 1 known species related to inflammatory bowel disease (Bateroides fragilis).

“Learning about the microbial communities may provide doctors with a new way to give fast and accurate diagnoses,” Xing explains. “In addition, by identifying these disease-related pathogens, we can help researches develop treatments.”

This research holds tremendous scientific promise since bulk DNA sequencing allows scientists to bypass the difficulties arising in cell cultivation (such as the rapid cell death of large amounts of microbial species once the environment has changed).

Following graduation, Xing will pursue a career  in academia and continue his research in statistics, while teaching and sharing knowledge with students.

To view this article and more please visit http://grad.uga.edu/

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