Statistics Department 2011 Newsletter
A Message from Department Chair Bob Smidt
Hello again. Between the budget crisis and uncertainty of the reaction of the CSU to the crisis, this has been an interesting year. But the most important achievement was the graduation of 18 Statistics majors in June, 2010, another three students in December, followed by a cadre of 14 graduates in June, 2011. Many of you probably remember “back in the days” when the number of graduates would be a single-digit number, and often a small, single-digit number. So the number of students we are now graduating speaks well about the health of the profession of statistics in general and of the department in particular. Additionally, it appears that we will have 18 freshmen and three transfer new majors in fall, 2011, so the major remains healthy and well.
Cal Poly has a new leader, President Jeffery Armstrong. Dr. Armstrong arrived at Poly in February and has made a point of visiting the colleges, meeting a sample of faculty and students from each department. President Armstrong was so impressed with the following excerpt from our most recent program review that he read it out loud to the rest of the people at the meeting: “The Statistics Department at Cal Poly SLO is an example of how collegiality, quality, devotion and hard work can produce a center of excellence that is a beacon to many Statistics departments across the nation.”
Read the full message from Dr. Smidt
Statistics Department News
Year End Social 2011 - See the Photos
The end of 2010-2011 academic year was celebrated at the End-of-the-Year Social held at Cuesta Park. About 70 were in attendance including faculty, their families, significant others, statistics students -- majors and minors -- and their guests.
Read more about the social and see pictures
Cal Poly hosted the 2011 WNAR/IMS conference June 19-22, bringing a host of professionals to campus for a series of workshops. WNAR stands for the Western North American Region of the International Biometric Society (the organization that publishes the journal Biometrics). IMS stands for the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (the organization that publishes the Annals of Statistics, among other journals).
Read about the conference and see pictures
New Actuary Minor - Matt Carlton
In response to increased interest, 2010 graduate Dave Evans and I worked with an advisory panel from the Statistics, Mathematics, and Finance departmentsto create a minor in Actuarial Preparation. Students can apply to this minor beginning summer 2011. The minor curriculum includes advanced courses in probability and finance, along with a five-course “pack” of economics, finance, and statistics called Validation by Educational Experience. These courses are required by both major national actuarial societies (CAS and SOA) called. Statistics majors with an interest in actuarial careers will find it easy to integrate the minor into their major curriculum.
Read the actuary article
Statistics Department Donors - Thank You!
We want to thank our generous donors for their continual and new gifts to the department. Private support from our alumni, parents and friends helps the Statistics Department continue to provide an exceptional Learn-by- Doing education for today's students. Click on the link below to see the list of those who gave to the Statistics Department and/or the Joyce Curry-Daly Scholarship for 2010-2011.
See donors from July 2010 through June 2011
Hank Elgin (B.S., Statistics, '05) is halfway through his first term in grad school at the University of Essex in Colchester in the UK. Laine Thomas (B.S., Statistics, '04) is in grad school at Duke University and loves it.
Read their notes
Find Us On Facebook
Alumni: Are you on Facebook? The Statistics Department has its own Facebook Page! Visit and "Like" the page to keep up with department news.
Go to the Statistics Department Facebook Page
Faculty & Staff Updates, Advice and Articles
'Stay-batical' and MERLOT Award - Beth Chance
I enjoyed a "stay-batical," spending most of my time this year in SLO. This enabled me to work closely with Drs. Roy and McGaughey redeveloping some lab assignments for Stat 217. It was definitely more fun to be in the classroom as a TA than the teacher. I enjoyed updating the applets, learning some new tricks, and seeing them in action.
Read more about the MERLOT Award
Year in Recap - Jimmy Doi
It has been a wonderful year for me in many respects and it has been a very challenging one too as it has been one of the busiest among the 8 years I’ve been here. But I’m happy to say that this academic year ends on an especially high note for me because on July 2, I got married. My fiancée, Midori Okugawa, and I exchanged our vows on the island of Maui in the presence of special friends and family. I look forward to introducing this very special lady in my life to everyone in the department.
Read more about Dr. Doi's year
Visualizing Alumni Locations with R' - Samuel Frame
Now we can visually view the locations of Cal Poly alumni. Thanks to Dr. Samuel Frame's ingenuity and use of R'.
Read more about where our alumni are located and see the maps
Best News of the Year - Lina Ignatova
Looking back at the past academic year, I can say it has truly been a special one. A lot of my time went into professional development. In particular, I have been working with my co-authors on a paper on exact closed sequential sampling procedures and their applications in industrial sampling, Medicare fraud investigations and election audits. We submitted our work to The American Statistician and I also presented part of this research at JSM in Vancouver and at Cal Poly. The best news for the past year however is on a personal note: In June, I got married to my long time true fried Roland, who became more than a friend last summer.
Read more from Dr. Ignatova
10 Years at Cal Poly - Ulric Lund
So, this kind of snuck up on me: sometime in spring quarter I realized that I was finishing my 10th year at Cal Poly. What a milestone! I am so thankful for the career that I have, and the colleagues in the Statistics Department that I share my career with. It was a huge decision to leave my industry job 10 years ago, and move to San Luis Obispo from San Francisco, but it was definitely the right move.
Read more from Dr. Lund
Career Tips: How to Succeed in Statistics in Industry - Les Pennelly
Being a statistician in industry can be quite rewarding if you follow opportunities for growth. I offer some observations from being in the research arm of the pharmaceutical industry for 34 years.
Read more about growth in industry
Statistics Department Year in Review - Melody Pietsch
I introduced myself to you in the last newsletter, and now that I have been in the Statistics Department for a full academic year, I can elaborate on my first year. The Statistics Department is seriously the best place I have worked on the Cal Poly campus. It offers not just a job, but more of a sense of family and friendship than anywhere else. It also has a wild new friend.
Read more and meet the Statistics Office Mascot
Jumping Out of a Plane - Andrew Schaffner
This year was about trying new things for me. Getting right to the title of this article: Yes, I jumped out of a plane. Reckless? Maybe a little bit, but I have no regrets. My second plunge this year was to chair the Academic Senate Curriculum Committee. This job meant giving up 12 units of teaching to serve the university by overseeing the approval of all curricular proposals on campus. It turns out that in many ways, this job has been more frightening than jumping out of the plane.
More about Dr. Schaffner's jumps
New Additions - Jeff Sklar
I just finished my sixth year in the department, and it ended on a great note as I received tenure and a promotion to associate professor. It was a great feeling (and a bit of a relief) to reach this career milestone, but I know that the hard work will continue. And my wife and I will have another addition to the family.
Read more about additions
Explorations: Both Professional and Personal - Heather Smith
This past academic year was my 15th at Cal Poly and I spent it on sabbatical, working on several different types of projects. I kept busy on two consulting projects, one in biomedical research and another in genetics. On a personal note, I took two international trips this year, one for professional development and one for pleasure. I took a two week trip to Slovenia, giving a talk about Cal Poly’s Statistical Consulting course at the International Conference on the Teaching of Statistics (ICOTS -8). In April, my husband David, sons Austin and Hadden, and I took a few weeks of vacation on the south end of the southernmost island of New Zealand.
Read about Dr. Smith's explorations and see pictures
Publications and More - John Walker
The 2010-2011 academic year was a very busy one for me. My statistical consulting work with faculty from other departments produced two publications. I coauthored one paper on the heat stability of skimmed milk in the Journal of Dairy Science with Dr. Phil Tong and Dr. Vandna Sikand of the Dairy Products Technology Center. A paper with Dr. Steven Kane of the School of Education on detecting attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and learning disabilities in college students appeared in the Journal of Learning Disabilities. I will be working on more projects with all of these coauthors this summer.
read more about publications and activities
Statistics Student News
COSAM Spring Awards Banquet
Statistics students and faculty enjoyed the annual college awards in May 2011
Spring 2011 Graduates
See the list of our Spring 2011 graduates
Juliana Fajardo & Max Klingman
The Stats Club booth at Open House 2011 was a success.
I was able to attend two conferences during my last year in the Statistics Department. I went to the Western Users of SAS Software (WUSS) conference in San Diego and the SAS Global Forum (SGF) conference in Las Vegas.
Read more about Alex's conference experiences
This last April, Alex Herrington and I received scholarships to attend SAS Global Forum in Las Vegas, Nevada. While I cannot speak for Alex, I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed my week at the conference. Throughout my stay at Cal Poly, I have taken the opportunity to attend a variety of conferences and out of all of those conferences, SAS Global Forum was the most exciting and educational.
Read more about Diana's conference