Old News

2023 News

Seminar titled “50 Years of Tom Ferguson’s 1973 Dirichlet Process Paper” & 25th Anniversary Celebration

On Thursday, November 9, the Department of Statistics and Data Science and the Department of Biostatistics hosted this seminar celebrating the 50th anniversary of Tom Ferguson’s seminal research paper, “A Bayesian Analysis of Some Nonparametric Problems“. Professors Igor Prünster, Peter Müller and Wesley Johnson spoke at the event. More details of their talks are available at this link which shows the flyer that advertises the seminar. The seminar was streamed live through a Zoom webinar that was sponsored by Bayesian Nonparametrics Section of the International Society for Bayesian Analysis (ISBA). A recording of it is below.

A cocktail reception followed the seminar. This was to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the founding of our department. Our faculty, students, staff and alumni mixed. Many people reconnected with friends and colleagues from past years.

Continuing Lecturer Michael Tsiang has been featured in the latest Amstat News magazine!!

Our colleague Dr. Michael Tsiang has been featured in the latest Amstat News magazine with a mention on the cover! In the article he discusses the Michael Tsiang Fund for Belonging in Statistics, his reasons for starting it, its purpose, and ways to contribute to it.

You can read the article at this link. Thank you Michael for the excellent work!

Professor Jessica Li received the Overton Prize from the International Society of Computational Biology (ISCB)

The Overton Prize was established by the ISCB in memory of G. Christian Overton in 2000. The annual prize is considered the highest honor for a computational biology scientist in the early to mid-career stage (up to a decade post-degree or equivalent experience), who has already made a significant contribution to the field of computational biology. More information about the award can be found at https://www.iscb.org/iscb-awards/overton-prize

Congratulations to Jessica for winning another prestigious award!

Dr. Jiashen You Named New Chief Data Officer for EEOC

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) named Dr. Jiashen You as the agency’s new Chief Data Officer and head of its Office of Enterprise Data and Analytics (OEDA) on 04/10/2023:


Dr. You’s duties will include ensuring that enterprise data are available, reliable, consistent, accessible, secure and timely to support the mission and activities of the federal agency. In addition, the chief data officer chairs the EEOC Data Governance Board and manages the open government data effort, such as how the EEOC creates and makes available public data products.

Dr. You received his Ph.D. in Statistics from UCLA in 2012.   Congratulations to Dr. You for this distinguished achievement!

Professor Jessica Li received a 2023 COPSS Emerging Leader Award!

Professor Jessica Li won one of the 2023 COPSS Emerging Leader Awards. Jessica was selected as a winner for innovative and disruptive research at the junction of statistics and biology, especially in statistical genomics; for advocacy of the importance of statistical rigor in the biomedical science community; and for outreach efforts and commitment to improving the diversity in quantitative research.

Congratulations to Jessica for winning another prestigious award!

The UCLA synthetic data workshop will be happening from April 13-14, 2023

The UCLA synthetic data workshop will be happening from April 13-14, 2023 at the Faculty Club. It is hosted by UCLA Statistics and co-sponsored by IDRE, Science Hub for Humanity and Artificial Intelligence, ASA Section on Statistical Computing, NISS and NSF. More details are available here.

Download Synthetic Data Workshop Flyer

We will be celebrating the life of Don Ylvisaker on March 18

A daylong celebration of the life of Don Ylvisaker will be happening on Saturday, March 18, 2023. Details are available here.

2022 News

Dr. Jingyi Jessica Li has been promoted to Full Professor!

Dr. Jingyi Jessica Li has been promoted to Full Professor, effective July 1, 2022.

Dr. Li has joint appointments in the Departments of Statistics, Biostatistics, Computational Medicine, and Human Genetics. Her research focuses on developing rigorous, robust, interpretable, and efficient statistical methods to address important questions in biomedical sciences, especially those around high-throughput genomic studies. The significance of her work’s impact is evident from her success in developing widely-used bioinformatics tools to advance transcriptomics studies at tissue and single-cell levels, and publications in influential journals such as Science, Nature, Cell, PNAS, Nature Communications, Science Advances, and Genome Biology. Dr. Li’s talent and achievements have been recognized with multiple awards, including an NSF CAREER Award, Sloan Research Fellowship, Math Scholar Award from the Johnson & Johnson Women in STEM2D Program, MIT Technology Review 35 Innovators under 35 China, and Harvard Radcliffe Fellowship.

Please congratulate Jessica for her promotion!

Attend the In-Person “Data Theory in the World Seminar” on the evening of Thursday, November 17, 2022

Aspiring data scientists, you are invited to attend the in-person panel discussion happening during the evening of Thursday, November 17, 2022 at the James West Alumni Center. Learn from real-world practitioners. Details are here.

Statistica Sinica honors Professor Ker-Chau Li by Releasing a Special Issue of their Journal on Sliced Inverse Regression (SIR)

Statistica Sinica featured their latest special issue on sliced inverse regression (SIR) to honor Ker-Chau Li for his ground-breaking contributions to dimension-reduction techniques in high-dimensional statistics. Over his career Professor Li also made substantial contributions in mathematics / computational statistics, high-dimensional data analysis, bioinformatics, systems biology, and applied research. Li served as a Co-editor of Statistica Sinica, 1999-2002, and as the Director of the Institute of Statistical Science, Academia Sinica, 2006-2012. He was elected as Academician of Academia Sinica in 2012, and subsequently as a member to the World Academy of Sciences in 2014. He was also the founder of the Mathematics in Biology Lab at the Institute of Statistical Science, Academia Sinica. The special issue is available here.

Please congratulate Kerchau when you next see him.

Guido Montufar has been promoted to Associate Professor with tenure, effective July 1, 2022

Guido has joint appointments in the Department of Statistics and the Department of Mathematics. His research focuses on the theoretical analysis of machine learning and artificial intelligence. His work provides insight into why these methods work so well, rather than the engineering of more refined methods. He was the recipient of the 2022 Sloan Research Fellowship and a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation.

There are few things more important to a department than the development and promotion of junior faculty.

Congratulations to Guido for his tenure promotion!

NSF Awards $1M to Multi-Disciplinary Team to Plan Pandemic Prevention Hub

A multi-campus, multi-disciplinary UC team have been awarded $1 million from the National Science Foundation to plan a new center to prevent and rapidly contain disease outbreaks and their negative effects on health, the economy and society. See this link for more details.

Professor Mark S. Handcock is only statistician on the team.

Congratulations to Mark!

Dr. Jingyi Jessica Li received a Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative Grant

Dr. Jingyi Jessica Li received an inaugural funding, the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative Single-Cell Biology Data Insights Award. Her project is “Enhancing Rigor and Reliability of Single-Cell Data Science.” Her team will address the widespread issue of inflated false discovery rates (FDRs) in single-cell data analysis, in particular, the data reuse “double-dipping” issue. Her team will also develop a versatile simulator to generate realistic single-cell multi-omics data and spatial transcriptomics data with ground truths, thus allowing the single-cell community to perform fair and informative benchmarking of computational tools.

More details are available here:

Congratulations to Jessica for winning another prestigious award!

Professor Jingyi Jessica Li selected to be a Radcliffe Institute Fellow

Jingyi Jessica Li, Associate Professor in the Department of Statistics at UCLA, was selected to be a Radcliffe Institute Fellow (Helen Putnam Fellow) for the 2022-2023 academic year.

The Harvard Radcliffe Institute Fellowship Program, now in its 22nd year, offers scholars and practitioners in the arts, humanities, journalism, sciences, and social sciences a chance to pursue their latest passions. This year, the program traditionally accepted only 50 fellows for the 2022-2023 class from across Harvard University and around the world. The historical acceptance rate in recent years was below 3%.

Dr. Li is an interdisciplinary expert in statistics and genomics. During her Radcliffe Fellowship year, she will write the first book to clarify common confusions in genomics data analysis by connecting cutting-edge genomics research questions with fundamental statistical and machine-learning methods, focusing on the distinctions and choices among the methods—which are apparently similar but fundamentally different—so that quantitative genomics researchers will have clear guidelines to follow in their development of bioinformatics tools.

Link to Dr. Li’s webpage on the Radcliffe Institute website: https://www.radcliffe.harvard.edu/people/jingyi-jessica-li

Congratulations to Jessica!

We’re deeply saddened to announce the passing of Don Ylvisaker, Professor Emeritus

We’re deeply saddened to announce the passing of Don Ylvisaker. Don was instrumental in establishing the Department of Statistics and was a great friend, mentor, and colleague to many of us. We are preparing a special In Memoriam page as well as a full obituary to honor Don’s lasting contributions to our community, which we hope to share with you very soon.

Don is preceded in death by his son Peter, and sisters Mary and Sylvia. He is survived by his wife Anna (Ricci), sisters Elisabeth and Shirley, as well as many nieces, nephews and cousins.

The family would like donations in Don’s memory to be made to VNA Health at 509 E. Montecito Street, Suite 200, Santa Barbara, CA 93103. More details are available here.

A daylong celebration of the life of Don Ylvisaker happened on Saturday, March 18, 2023.

The Valhalla Foundation will fund the UCLA Introduction to Data Science (IDS) Project

The UCLA Introduction to Data Science (IDS) Project of Center X and the Department of Statistics is proud to announce generous funding from Valhalla Foundation to expand the IDS mission to improve data literacy for K-12 students and to increase diversity in STEM education.

For information about the Introduction to Data Science Project, please see http://introdatascience.org.

Professor Guido Montúfar received the 2022 Sloan Research Fellowship

Montúfar, who leads the Mathematical Machine Learning Group — centered at UCLA and the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences, in Germany — works on deep learning theory and mathematical machine learning. Through investigations of the geometry of data, hypothesis functions and parameters, he and his team are developing the mathematical foundations of deep learning and improving learning with neural networks. Montúfar is the recipient of a starting grant from the European Research Council and a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation, and he serves as research mentor with the Latinx Mathematicians Research Community. He and his team have organized a weekly online math machine learning seminar since 2020.

Please join me to congratulate Guido for receiving the prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship!

Read more details at this link from the UCLA Newsroom.

Professor Mark Handcock is co-author in a paper, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, which finds that Antarctic sea ice level could reach record low in 2022

The story on this research is posted in the UCLA Newsroom here.

UCLA researchers use Theory of Mind to improve Human Trust in Artificial Intelligence

Explainable Artificial Intelligence (XAI) models, through explanations, aim at making the underlying inference mechanism of AI systems transparent and interpretable to human users. Humans can easily be overwhelmed with too many or too detailed explanations; interactive communication process help in understanding the user and identify user-specific content for explanation, says Song-Chun Zhu, the project’s principal investigator and a professor of Statistics and Computer Science. So Zhu and his team set out to improve existing XAI models – to pose the explanation generation as an iterative process of communication between the human and the machine.

Arjun Reddy Akula, Ph.D. candidate at UCLA who led this work, said “In our framework, we let the machine and the user solve a collaborative task, but the machine’s mind and the human user’s mind only have a partial knowledge of the environment. Hence, the machine and user need to communicate with each other, using their partial knowledge, otherwise they would not be able to optimally solve the collaborative task”. He also said, “Our work will make it easier for non-expert AI human users to operate and understand the AI based systems”.

This work has been published in the prestigious Science journal and can be accessed here: https://www.cell.com/iscience/pdf/S2589-0042(21)01551-0.pdf

2021 News

Professor Karen McKinnon named as a 2021 Packard Fellow for Science and Engineering

Professor Karen McKinnon was named as a 2021 Packard Fellow for Science and Engineering. This year’s class features 20 innovative early-career scientists and engineers, who will each receive $875,000 over five years to pursue their research. Professor McKinnon uses the tools of climate dynamics, statistics, and machine learning to describe, understand, and predict climate variability with the goal of reducing uncertainty about the future climate.

You can read more, and meet the other Packard Fellows, at this link.

Please join me congratulating Professor McKinnon for receiving the prestigious Packard Fellowship.

Arash Amini and Chad Hazlett have both been promoted to Associate Professor!

Arash’s research is primarily in statistical machine learning, in particular, inference on network data, high-dimensional statistics, graphical models and convex optimization.

Chad has joint appointments in the Department of Statistics and the Department of Political Science. His work in statistics focuses on causal inference and machine learning methods.

Both promotions are effective July 1, 2021 and come with tenure. Please congratulate Arash and Chad for their tenure promotions.

Master of Applied Statistics (MAS) program alumnus – Greg Eastman has been recognized for his contribution in the 2021 Latino Donor Collaboration (LDC) Media Report!

Greg was commended for his “invaluable participation and methodology” and his “knowledge, time, and creativity to design the best system” as quoted by (our MAS Industry partner), the LDC Inc.’s Executive President, Ana Valdez. You can find the 2021 LDC Media Report on this webpage.

Professor Karen McKinnon published a paper in Nature Climate Change

Professor Karen McKinnon published a paper in Nature Climate Change last week, Hot extremes have become drier in the United States Southwest, identifying an unexpected decrease in summertime specific humidity on the hottest days in the US Southwest over the past 70 years, and particularly since 2000. Her findings indicate that the primary source of atmospheric moisture on hot days is soil moisture, so the observed decrease in humidity is a consequence of the ongoing drought. The results are, unfortunately, bad news for wildfire risk in the region, since a dry atmosphere both desiccates the vegetation and can cause more rapid wildfire spread. The work has been covered in the LATimes and NYTimes.

Statistics faculty Rob Gould debates on NISS panel the importance of K-12 statistics and data science education

This debate happened on May 19, 2021. More details as well as a recording of it are available at this link.

In Memoriam: Professor Janice Reiff, a joint faculty member in our department and in History, died unexpectedly on May 4, 2021

In Memoriam: Professor Janice Reiff, a joint faculty member in our department and in History, died unexpectedly on May 4, 2021. She was active across UCLA, widely known, and will be deeply missed. More details about her are available here.

Congratulations to Professor Jingyi Jessica Li who received the MIT Technology Review’s “Innovators Under 35 Award”!

Professor Jingyi Jessica Li has received the MIT Technology Review’s Innovators Under 35 Award. The award cites her outstanding contributions for improving the scientificity and transparency of data analysis, including the Central Dogma. The Central Dogma refers to the process of DNA making mRNAs and mRNAs making proteins, one of the most fundamental principles in modern biological sciences. More details are available here.

The MIT Technology Review’s Innovators Under 35 is an annual list that recognizes outstanding innovators who are younger than 35. The awards span a wide range of fields, including biotechnology, materials, computer hardware, energy, transportation, communications, and the Internet.

Recognition by MIT Technology Review gives these young people a platform to present themselves and their achievements to industry leaders, academic experts, and the global public. Each year, brilliant men and women are recognized for their advancements in diverse technical fields including biotechnology and medicine, computer and electronics hardware, software, internet, artificial intelligence, robotics, telecommunications, nanotechnology and materials, energy, and transportation.

Congratulations to Professor Jingyi Jessica Li for winning this prestigious award!

Congratulations to Professor Kenneth Lange who has been elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences

Professor Kenneth Lange has been elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences, in recognition of his distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.  Professor Lange is the Rosenfeld Professor of Computational Genetics, Professor of Computational Medicine, Human Genetics and Statistics.

Professor Lange has written four advanced textbooks and published more than 200 scientific papers in the areas of genetic epidemiology, population genetics, membrane physiology, demography, oncology, medical imaging, stochastic processes and optimization theory. Many of his landmark papers predate by a decade or more the current flood of biological applications of hidden Markov chains, Markov chain Monte Carlo and high-dimensional optimization, which are used to analyze patterns in data and can have predictive value.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution that provides scientific advice to the federal government and other organizations. Professor Lange is the only UCLA faculty member elected to the National Academy of Sciences this year.  UCLA now has 55 faculty members in the academy according to UCLA Newsroom (April 30, 2021).

Congratulations to Professor Kenneth Lange on this distinguished honor! More details are available at this UCLA Newsroom link.

Congratulations to Heather Zhou, who has been awarded an iDISCOVER Predoctoral Fellowship!

The UCLA Integrated Data Science Training in Cardiovascular Medicine (iDISCOVER) Program supports graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who seek training at the intersection of data science and cardiovascular (CV) medicine.

Heather’s current research project investigates the validity of approaches to account for hidden factors in expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) studies. The iDISCOVER Program will be a great opportunity for her to examine the implications of her research on cardiovascular data science applications.

More information about the fellowship is available at this link.

Ph.D. Alumnus Jake Porway is Interviewed in Amstat News

Our Ph.D. alumnus, Jake Porway, host of National Geographic’s show “The Numbers Game“, was interviewed for Amstat News in December 2020. Please see the details of this interview at this link.

2020 News

Professor Arash Amini wins an NSF DMS CAREER Award

Professor Arash Amini received a prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) DMS (Division of Mathematical Sciences) CAREER Award. This supports his outstanding research and education activities in High-Dimensional Statistical Models for Unsupervised Learning. The project will advance the field of modeling big complex unlabeled data. The focus will be on learning from network data as well as learning dependency structures from regular data. The NSF CAREER award, with a total of $400,000 for a 5-year duration, is the NSF’s most prestigious award in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.

For more information, please see this link.

Congratulations to Professor Arash Amini for receiving this prestigious award!

Professor Mahtash Esfandiari wins the inaugural Physical Science Centennial Excellence in Education Award

Professor Mahtash Esfandiari was selected as the winner of the Inaugural Physical Science Centennial Excellence in Education Award. This award recognizes a faculty member for making a broad impact on classroom inclusivity and learning excellence. As the primary architect and co-director of the capstone course, and pioneering the first diversity course in the division, Mahtash has demonstrated the ability to inspire collaboration, as well as making many contributions to help establish an inclusive learning community at UCLA.

We congratulate Mahtash for winning this award and thank her for the huge impact that she made in diversity education in the UCLA Department of Statistics.

Two teams of graduating seniors recently created COVID-19 related dashboards in UCLA Statistics’ capstone course

Two teams of graduating seniors recently completed their Statistics capstone course. They did an outstanding job. They worked under the supervision of Professor Mahtash Esfandiari and Professor Vivian Lew. Samuel Baugh was their teaching assistant.

The first group produced a real-time updating dashboard app that tracks the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States. Using publicly available data from “Google Community Mobility Reports” and “The COVID Tracking Project”, the dashboard shows the behavior of citizen mobility and COVID-19 test and patient outcomes in different states for different time intervals. Please see their website and dashboard in action.

The students in this first team are Brielle Josephine Balswick, Adrika Chakraborty, Valerie Jiaying Chen, Shirley Mach, Josh (Jungsoo) Park, Julia Sho Sung, Cydney Joy Vicentina, Anika Vij and Jericho Neo Ranches Villareal.

The second group created a simulation dashboard app, using a SIRU epidemiological model for each state in the U.S. While accounting for potential unreported cases, this dashboard presents the spread of COVID-19 and its susceptibility to the implementation of government interference. They produced a video that explains the details.

The students in the second team are Keith Atienza, Isabela Devia, Valeria Monserrat Lopez Robles, Rachel Theresa Rusch, Michael Anthony Stranieri, Lucas (Yoo Jeong) Han, Jianzhen Wang, Yixin Xu and Fanru Zhao.

An Interview with Professor Jingyi Jessica Li is on “The Science Show”!

Professor Jingyi Jessica Li was interviewed by Robyn Williams on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s “The Science Show”. She talked about “Genomic processes described using biology and statistics”. The podcast was broadcast on May 23, 2020. It is available here.

Rob Gould has won the 2020 ASA Outstanding Chapter Service Award from the Southern California Chapter of ASA (SCASA)

Professor Rob Gould has received the 2020 ASA Outstanding Chapter Service Award from the Southern California Chapter of ASA (SCASA). The award is for Rob’s “outstanding leadership, committed mentoring, innovative teaching and dedicated service to the Chapter. For never stopping thinking of new and innovative ways to bring Statistics and Data Science to the whole world, and for caring enough to entice the statistical community to spread the word”! Last year, Rob received the 2019 Waller Distinguished Teaching Career Award from the ASA and the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award in Statistics Education from the United States Conference on Teaching Statistics and Consortium for the Advancement of Undergraduate Statistics Education.

Please congratulate Rob for winning another distinguished award!

A Daily Bruin article has been written about Laurie Leyden, our Student Affairs Officer, and her blog “Life Lessons with Laurie”.

Please congratulate Laurie for being recognized for the outstanding resource that she contributes to our student community. See the article at this link.

Karen McKinnon was recently awarded an NSF grant through the Climate and Large-Scale Dynamics program!!

Professor Karen McKinnon was recently awarded an NSF grant through the Climate and Large-Scale Dynamics program. The grant, titled “The factors governing daily near-surface air temperature variability over land”, is focused on using both statistical and dynamical models to better identify the dominant causal mechanisms underlying regional temperature variability and high-impact extreme events. More information can be found at https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1939988.

Please congratulate Karen on her outstanding achievement!

Professor Jingyi Jessica Li has been awarded an inaugural UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine (DGSOM) W. M. Keck Foundation Junior Faculty Award

Her project title is “Discovering Fundamental Mechanisms of Translational Control to Advance mRNA Therapeutics and other Biomedical Technologies.” The strategic vision of the W. M. Keck Foundation Junior Faculty Awards is to support outstanding early career scientists with a $500,000 grant ($250,000 per year for two years) to pursue creative and impactful research. For detailed information of this award, please see this link.

Please congratulate Jessica on her outstanding achievement!

2019 News

New statistical method developed by Jingyi (Jessica) Li and her team will likely produce insights into human diseases

Congratulations to Professor Jingyi “Jessica” Li and her research group, the Junction of Statistics and Biology. They developed a new statistical method called AIDE. The method recovers full-length sequences of messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules from data generated by second-generation RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) technology.

More details are available at this link:


Rob Gould and his team have been awarded a grant that supports the Mobilize Introduction to Data Science (IDS) high school course

Professor Rob Gould, along with Suyen Machado and Annamarie Francoise from UCLA’s Center X, were awarded a grant from the College Futures Foundation to support the continued development of the Mobilize Introduction to Data Science (IDS) high school course. IDS is the first course of its kind and is currently taught in 15 districts and 45 high schools. To date, over 9,500 students, the vast majority of whom come from communities underrepresented in STEM, have taken IDS and learned to analyze data using R. IDS was recently featured in the Freakonomics Podcast Episode 391 (http://freakonomics.com/podcast/math-curriculum). The College Futures Foundation is a non-profit organization that seeks to catalyze systemic change, increase college degree completion, and close equity gaps in education.

Congratulations to Rob and his team!

Congratulations to Heather Zhou for receiving a UCLA National Science Foundation MENTOR Research Traineeship

This traineeship focuses on training and mentoring graduate students in interdisciplinary research related to ModEling and uNdersTanding human behaviOR (MENTOR), at the intersection of data science, mathematics, cryptography, artificial intelligence, genomics, behavior science, and social science.

This prestigious award will cover tuition and provide a full stipend to Heather for 12 months. More details are available at this link.

Jessica Li and Allie Fletcher are both promoted to Associate Professor

We are happy to report that Jessica Li and Allie Fletcher have both been promoted to Associate Professor. Both promotions are effective July 1, 2019 and come with tenure.

Allie Fletcher’s work is interdisciplinary between applied mathematics, statistics, computer sciences, and electrical engineering. She brings a theoretician perspective to signal processing and high-dimensional inference, especially in sparse recovery and computational neuroscience. She has joint appointments in Mathematics, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, as well as the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at University of California, Berkeley.

Jessica Li’s work is on the interface between statistics and biology, especially computational biology. She has joint appointments in Statistics, Biomathematics, and Human Genetics, as well as her role in the new Interdepartmental Ph.D. Program in Bioinformatics.

Both Allie and Jessica are exceptional scientists and show how statisticians are advancing science across the university. They bring statistical ideas to other fields and bring back to our discipline novel ideas that enrich us.

Please join us in congratulating Allie and Jessica!

Allie Fletcher named fellow at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study

Please congratulate our very own Allie Fletcher. She has just been named a 2019–2020 fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. Fletcher joins more than 50 women and men in the incoming fellowship class as they pursue work across the sciences, social sciences, humanities and arts. The Radcliffe Institute Fellowship Program has rapidly become one of the most competitive programs of its kind in the world, with an acceptance rate of only 4 percent each year.

More details about this fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute are available at this link. There is a UCLA Newsroom article about this story at this link with more details as well.

Parthe Pandit and Mojtaba Sahraee were selected for a 2019 IEEE ISIT Student Best Paper Award

Parthe Pandit and Mojtaba Sahraee, both Ph.D. students from Professor Allie Fletcher’s research group, received a Jack Keil Wolf Student Paper Award at the 2019 IEEE International Symposium on Information Theory (ISIT).  The IEEE ISIT is the premier conference in information theory, and the paper from Professor Fletcher’s group was selected from over 630 accepted manuscripts. More details about this award are found at this link.

The paper, “Asymptotics of MAP Inference in Deep Networks,” provides a powerful new tool for understanding reconstruction in systems with deep generative networks as priors. Such deep generative models have had enormous practical success in problems with complex data. Congratulations to Parthe and Mojtaba!

Congratulations to Sydney Kahmann, Gabriel Ruiz and Stephanie Stacy who have each been awarded prestigious 2019 NSF Graduate Research Fellowships!

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) recruits high-potential, early-career scientists and engineers and supports their graduate research training in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. GRFP provides three years of financial support within a five-year fellowship period and cost-of-education allowance to the graduate institution.

Sydney, Gabriel and Stephanie are second year Ph.D. students. Sydney is working on falsification testing with Professor Erin Hartman, Gabriel is working on causal order estimation of Bayesian networks with Professors Zhou and Amini, while Stephanie Stacy is working on cognition related questions with Professor Tao Gao.

It is a great honor for the department as we received 3 of the 13 awards given nationwide in the discipline of Statistics.

More details about the fellowship are found at this link.

Congratulations to Professor Song-Chun Zhu and VCLA, who helped to host and organize CVPR 2019

Congratulations to Professor Song-Chun Zhu and many members of his research group, VCLA, who helped to host and organize CVPR 2019 from June 16 to June 20, 2019 in Long Beach. CVPR (Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition) 2019 is the premier annual computer vision event. There were 9,000+ registered attendees from 68 countries and 180+ companies as exhibitors.

Details about this conference are available at link 1 and link 2.

Three UCLA Statistics faculty to be honored at JSM 2019 in Denver

Hongquan Xu has been elected a Fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (IMS). The IMS Fellowship honors the outstanding research and professional contributions of its members. The decision to grant this honor to an IMS member is based on the member’s demonstrated distinction in research in statistics or probability. Each Fellow nominee is assessed by a committee of their peers for the award. Only about one-half of one percent of the IMS membership receive this honor each year.

Judea Pearl has been elected a Fellow of the American Statistical Association (ASA). The decision to grant this honor to an ASA member is based on the member’s contribution to the field of statistics, the ASA and society at large. This is very rare as only about one-third of one percent of the ASA membership receive this honor each year.

Rob Gould has been awarded the 2019 Waller Distinguished Teaching Career Award by the American Statistical Association (ASA). The Waller Distinguished Teaching Career Award recognizes an individual for sustained excellence in teaching and statistics education (for a minimum of 20 years). This very prestigious award is given to at most one person per year by the ASA.

Congratulations to Hongquan, Judea and Rob!

The 2019 De Leeuw Seminar and 20th Anniversary Celebration happened on April 23rd at CNSI

The 2019 De Leeuw Seminar happened first. Roger Peng, Professor of Biostatistics at Johns Hopkins University (and a Ph.D. alumnus of ours) spoke on “The New Future of Data Analysis”. A recording of his talk is below:

Following that many of the faculty who were instrumental in the formation of our department spoke of the many steps and challenges that were overcome in order for it to form. Audience members (alumni, current students and staff) shared what the department has meant to them as well. Gifts and appreciation were conferred to retiring Student Affairs Officer Glenda Jones. This most-loved department member served us for over a decade and will be missed by all. Best wishes were given to her as she enters this new stage of her life. A recording of this portion of the evening is below:

The event ended with a cocktail reception in the lobby of CNSI where the departmental community and alumni mixed. Many people reconnected with friends and colleagues from past years.

SWS’ next Distinguished Women in Statistics Lecture will happen on May 6, 2019

We are pleased to announce the spring speaker for the Distinguished Women in Statistics Lecture Series: Dr. Jennie E. Brand, Professor of Sociology and Statistics at UCLA. She will present on May 6th at 4:30 pm in the Sierra Room of the Faculty Center, dinner will be held around 6 pm.

Click this link for more details and to RSVP for the talk and post-seminar dinner by April 26th.

The 2019 De Leeuw Seminar and 20th Anniversary Celebration: April 23rd

The 2019 De Leeuw Seminar will be happening from 4:00pm to 5:30pm. The details concerning it are available on our Seminars webpage. Please RSVP here for this seminar. A flyer for the seminar is available here. It will be followed by a reception in the CNSI lobby. From 6:00pm – 7:30pm we will have our 20th Anniversary Celebration. All department members have been invited as well as our alumni. At this event we will hear from some community members, including Jan himself. All will have an opportunity to talk about the department. The day ends with a cocktail reception in the lobby of CNSI where the the departmental community and alumni can mix. Please click here to RSVP for the 20th Anniversary Celebration.

2018 News

Department Participation in the 10th Annual “Exploring Your Universe” Event on Sunday, November 4, 2018

On Sunday, November 4 our department participated in the 10th annual “Exploring Your Universe” event at UCLA. We thank our volunteers Stephanie Stacy, Sydney Kahmann, Wei Li, Yidan Sun, and Sam Baugh who fascinated a future generation of statisticians. Our booth had more than 200 visitors. Kudos to Stephen Smith who developed the Shiny app for computing M&Ms proportions. We gave more than 180 M&M bags away!

The Journal of Environmental Statistics has just published a new special volume called “Novel or Unusual Ideas in Environmental Statistics”.

The special volume is accessible at this link.

In Memorial of Sean E. Wang

It is with deep sadness that we share the passing of Sean E. Wang, who died May 23, 2018 after a brief illness. Sean was a well known and liked alumni of our department. He received his doctorate in 2013 after completing BS and MS degrees in Mathematics at UCLA. He has been present as an alumni, participating in DataFest, seminars and other activities. He was also a committed Bruin, attending sports events and evangelized for the university and its mission.

A memorial will be held on Friday, June 15th in Whittier.

Sean’s parents, TJ and Shean Wang, shared the following message:

“We are very comforted, touched and grateful after seeing so many online memories shared by Sean’s friends. As Sean’s parents, we know him mostly as a dear son with lots of his own persistence and style. We want him to enjoy life in his own way and have a positive impact on his friends and communities. It seems that he did, in his short 38 years of life. We are very sad but feel grateful, too. We know that many of his friends are concerned about what happened. We only have limited information. Sean left us without warning. … We believe he passed away of heart failure on 5/19, but we are still waiting for the coroner’s official report. We sincerely welcome his friends come to say goodbye to him. We do not have any dress code, except no shorts and no reddish clothes please. Blue and gold, UCLA T-shirts, etc. are very much appreciated. We are planning to set up a memorial scholarship fund with the UCLA Statistics Department, a good suggestion from some of you.”

Here is information on the memorial on Friday, June 15th in Whittier:


More information on the impact Sean had can be found at:


There are also memorial threads for the various groups that Sean contributed to.

Those who had the good fortune to know Sean also know how much he will be missed.

Ph.D. alumnus Ariana Anderson creates ChatterBaby, an app that interprets the cry of a baby

Ph.D. alumnus and affiliated faculty member Ariana Anderson lead a team of researchers to create an app called ChatterBaby. That app uses artificial intelligence to interpret a baby’s cry based on its sound frequencies and the patterns of sounds / silence in it. It can identify whether a cry is due to fussiness, hunger or pain. This is helpful for parents who are deaf and parents / caregivers who do not understand what a baby is trying to communicate. ChatterBaby is also being used to collect data to see if crying can be used as a tool to diagnose autism. More details of this story are available from this UCLA Newsroom article and from this Wired article.

Congratulations to Professor Song-Chun Zhu who is part of the University of Virginia’s new $27.5M Center on Research in Intelligent Storage and Processing in Memory (CRISP)

Professor Song-Chun Zhu is part of the University of Virginia’s new $27.5M Center on Research in Intelligent Storage and Processing in Memory (CRISP) It is one of six Joint University Microelectronics Program (JUMP) centers nationwide that are managed by the Semiconductor Research Corporation with cost-sharing from DARPA. Each research center will examine a different challenge in advancing microelectronics—a field that is crucial to the U.S. economy and its national defense. The six JUMP centers are located at the University of Virginia, UC Santa Barbara, Carnegie Mellon, Purdue, University of Michigan and Notre Dame.

UV’s CRISP Center will bring together researchers from eight universities in an effort to remove the separation between memories that store data and processors that operate on that data — a separation that has been part of all mainstream computing architectures since 1945 when von Neumann first outlined how programmable computers should be structured. Unfortunately, that technology led to today’s “memory wall” in which data access has become a major performance bottleneck. Professor Zhu, along with his colleague Jason Cong (CS), will work with CRISP researchers and become instrumental in removing that bottleneck.

Jessica Li is a recipient of the Johnson & Johnson Women in STEM2D (WiSTEM2D) Scholars Award

Congratulations to faculty member Jingyi Jessica Li who is an inaugural winner of the Johnson & Johnson Women in STEM2D (WiSTEM2D) Scholars Award. Recipients of this prize are outstanding women at significant points in their research careers in the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, Manufacturing and Design (STEM2D). Jessica will receive $150,000 in funding and three years of mentorship from Johnson & Johnson leaders as well as members of the award’s Advisory Board. Details of the announcement are available at this link. A profile of Jessica and those of the other winners are available here.

The 2018 de Leeuw Seminar is happening on 4/26/2018 at 1:30PM – 3:30PM in the California Room of the Faculty Center

More information is available here.

Judea Pearl wins 2017 – 2018 Edward A. Dickson Emeritus Professorship Award!

The Dickson Emeritus Professorship Award is funded from a gift endowment established by the late Edward A. Dickson, Regent of the University of California, to honor outstanding research, scholarly work, teaching, and service performed by an Emeritus or Emerita Professor since retirement. Professor Emeritus Judea Pearl was one of three selected for this award which will be presented at the UCLA Emeriti Association annual dinner.

Since his retirement, in July 1994, Dr. Pearl’s research accomplishments have increased markedly, both in volume and in impact, resulting in hundreds of scientific articles, 13 Ph.D. graduates, two seminal books, many accolades and numerous awards. In particular, his recent work on causal inference has revolutionized the way scientists in almost every discipline view and process cause-effect relationships in their respective fields. More details are available at this link.

UCLA Statistics is recruiting for several faculty positions now!

We are currently recruiting faculty. More details are available here.

Jessica Li has been awarded a 2018 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship

Congratulations to faculty member Jingyi Jessica Li who has been awarded a 2018 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship. This very prestigious fellowship is awarded to early-career scholars who represent the most promising scientific researchers working today. Fellows receive a $65,000 award to support their research. More details are available here.

2017 News

Congratulations to MAS student Yuan-Yi Chen who was a member of the 6 person team that won the UCLA / Salesforce Data Science Challenge on August 7, 2017

This competition, for UCLA graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, gets participants to use real student data and statistical analyses to help a nonprofit high school advance their mission of providing the highest level of education and care to their students.

More details regarding this competition can be found at this link.

Alyson Fletcher helps launch conference on artificial intelligence and neuroscience

Alyson Fletcher, assistant professor, and eight colleagues have launched a new annual scientific conference. It is called Cognitive Computational Neuroscience. Read about the full story here.

Congratulations to Ph.D. students Tianmin Shu, Lifeng Fan and Professor Hongjing Lu who were awarded the Computational Modeling Prize at the 39th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, CogSci 2017 in London.

A paper coauthored by our Ph.D. students, Tianmin Shu and Lifeng Fan, in a joint work with Professor Hongjing Lu (joint faculty in Psychology and Statistics), received the Computational Modeling Prize, a best paper prize from the 39th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, CogSci 2017 in London. Their paper is titled “Inferring Human Interaction from Motion Trajectories in Aerial Videos”.

UCLA is hosting the DAE 2017 Conference on October 12 – 14, 2017

The Design and Analysis of Experiments 2017 (DAE 2017) Conference will be held at UCLA on October 12 – 14, 2017. It is being organized by UCLA professors Hongquan Xu, Statistics and Weng Kee Wong, Biostatistics.

The UCLA Center for Social Statistics is hosting a special seminar on Wednesday, 5/24/2017, 12:00pm – 1:30pm. For details please navigate to our seminars page.

Congratulations to faculty members Mark Handcock, Erin Hartman and Rick Schoenberg who have been awarded FY17 Transdisciplinary Seed Grants

The purpose of the Transdisciplinary Seed Grant Program is to provide funds to foster new transdisciplinary research and scholarship between faculty members from different UCLA departments. The two priorities for the FY17 competition were north campus-led research projects and projects involving big data. The names of our winning faculty members and their projects are below:

Mark Handcock – Reducing Homelessness in LA using Big Data and Predictive Modeling
Erin Hartman – Leveraging Highly Granular Data in Sampling and Analysis of Political Surveys
Rick Schoenberg – Searching for Repeating Foreshocks by Data-mining Massive Continuous Seismic Waveforms

The ASA seeks judges for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair

The American Statistical Association is looking for judges for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair on May 16 and 17.

The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair is the world’s premiere science competition for pre-college students. The students participating in ISEF have won in city, county, state and countrywide affiliated science fairs throughout the world. The American Statistical Association is organizing judges to examine the statistical content of the entries.

Judges are needed for Tuesday and/or Wednesday, May 16 and 17. You can choose to participate both days, or one day. You can even choose to participate for just part of the day on Tuesday. More details are available on page 4 of this link.

Send an email to Madeline Bauer if you have questions.

Paper co-authored by Mike Tsiang, lecturer, is published in PNAS

Congratulations to Mike Tsiang, lecturer, as the paper “Quantifying the influence of global warming on unprecedented extreme climate events”, which he co-authored, has just been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Here is a link to the paper and another link to the UCLA Newsroom article that discusses his research.

Work on human-robot interactions by Tianmin Shu, Ph.D. student, was just profiled in New Scientist

Congratulations to Tianmin Shu, Ph.D. student and member of the VCLA research group, as his research was recently profiled in New Scientist. The work taught a robot, Baxter, the subtleties of interacting with humans. The article can be found at this link.

Tianmin will be presenting his paper “Learning Social Affordance Grammar from Videos: Transferring Human Interactions to Human-Robot Interactions” at IEEE’s ICRA 2017 (International Conference on Robotics and Automation) in Singapore on May 30, 2017.

The 2017 de Leeuw Seminar is happening on 5/04/2017 at 2:00PM

More information is available here.

ASA DataFestTM 2017 at UCLA will happen on May 5 – May 7

Details available here.