Western Michigan University’s Department of Statistics becomes a NISS Affiliate

The Western Michigan University’s Department of Statistics has become an Affiliate of NISS, effective November 2017.

"We are very happy to become a new academic affiliate of NISS. Inclusion in NISS’ Affiliate program will open up new developmental and collaboration opportunities, especially for junior faculty. An individual Affiliate Award Fund is a great benefit. Being included in the NISS’ Affiliate program should also increase the department’s visibility," says, Kevin Lee, Assistant Professor, Department of Statistics, Western Michigan University. Lee is the Junior NISS Affiliate Liaison.

The Western Michigan University's Department of Statistics offers M.S. and Ph.D. programs in Statistics. Expanding its curriculum to meet industry demands, the department has recently started offering Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs in Data Science. “Curricula of the programs offered by the department were modernized to strengthen students’ computing skills. Our recent faculty hires have expertise in data mining, network analysis, and data visualization,” says, Magdalena Niewiadomska-Bugaj, Department Chair, Department of Statistics, Western Michigan University. Niewiadomska-Bugaj is also a NISS Affiliate Primary Liaison.

The NISS Affiliate Program is a communication enabler for the statistical and data science community. "We are pleased Western Michigan University's Department of Statistics is the latest department to join our academic affiliate program" says, James Rosenberger, NISS Director. "The NISS Affiliate program brings together statistical and data science professionals from all sectors - academia, industry, government/national labs - to support research discussions, information dissemination, human resource development, and networking," Rosenberger adds.

Catering to the growing demands of Data Science
The world is becoming more and more quantitative and data driven. Organizations are making decisions based on analyzing large data sets. Hence there is an ever-increasing need to understand data and the ability to draw an insight from that data is even more important. "The department of statistics at Western Michigan University is fully aware of these changes and adapts the programs’ curricula. We monitor what skills employers list in job announcements and where our graduates are hired. We prepare our students for careers in academia, industry and government by teaching the skills that are most useful and we also provide foundations which allow our students to acquire new skills and learn new developing methodologies," says Niewiadomska-Bugaj.

Statistics is a rapidly developing discipline. The department of statistics at Western Michigan University is catering to these evolving needs. The research focus of the department is slightly shifting toward new problems from working with big data, such as data mining, data visualization and network analysis.  "We want to be at its forefront," says, Niewiadomska-Bugaj. She adds, "We envision the department to continue preparing students for successful careers in academia, industry or government. While providing necessary mathematical rigor, our programs and research projects will respond and adapt to the specific needs of a quickly changing world.”

With this NISS affiliation, the department of statistics at Western Michigan University looks forward to enhancing the chance of multi-disciplinary research collaboration, help with finding the complex yet interesting real-world problems, and promote developing new statistical methodologies to address these problems and challenges.

“As an affiliate of this national statistical organization, we expect to gain more interest in our programs. Also, as our department occasionally host conferences, for example, the International Conference on Robust Rank-Based and Nonparametric Methods in 2015, we hope that in the near future NISS could co-sponsor a similar conference,” says Niewiadomska-Bugaj.

Research efforts
The department of statistics at the Western Michigan University is strong in rank-based inference. Recently Professor Joseph McKean of the department coauthored a textbook titled "Nonparametric Statistical Methods Using R" where some of the robust methods are presented at an applied level.

Some of the research work that the university is working on include diagnostics for comparative efficiency of the log-rank test versus Wilcoxon; a regression approach to testing for bioequivalence of two measurements; statistical properties of the population stability index; extensions of the Bonferroni approach to multiple comparisons; algorithms for robust analyses of massive data sets; methodological research on zero-inflated data; and biological applications of spatial statistics.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 by Mearl Colaco