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Statistics Department celebrates 50th Anniversary

By Christine Buckley

50thanniversaryThe Department of Statistics celebrated its 50th anniversary this weekend with the long-standing Pfizer Colloquium and the inaugural Makuch Visiting Lecture in Statistics.

Despite an undeserved stereotype as a confusing branch of mathematics, statistics – and UConn’s Statistics department in general, says Associate Dean for the Physical Sciences Dipak Dey – provides outstanding preparation for careers in academia, industry, or government.

“The knowledge gained from statistics is used regularly in technology, business, economics, medicine and social science, and can be related as fact-based knowledge to help people’s daily lives,” says Dey.

The 15-member department’s teaching and research expertise spans most specializations in statistical science, including areas such as probability theory, Bayesian inference, geometric methods, decision theory, econometrics and actuarial science. Today, many faculty members are actively involved in interdisciplinary research with other scientists at and beyond UConn which, they say, is a hallmark of their department.

In particular, Department Head Joseph Glaz has worked with Peter Willett in the UConn School of Engineering on applications of scan statistics. Ming-Hui Chen works with researchers at Harvard University on issues in prostate cancer research, and Ofer Harel has been a statistical consultant for research including Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, nutrition, HIV/AIDS, and alcohol and drug abuse prevention.

The Pfizer Colloquium Series in Statistics began in 1977 with a gift from David S. Salsburg, the department’s first PhD recipient, who worked at Pfizer Global Research and Development in Groton, Connecticut. The colloquium makes films of distinguished statisticians for the archive of the American Statistical Association. This year’s speakers were Pranab Sen of the University of North Carolina and Malay Ghosh of the University of Florida.

The first Makuch Visiting Lecture was given by Robert Makuch of the Yale School of Public Health, who spoke on “Current Issues in Clinical Trials of Public Health.”

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