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Letter From the Department Chair 2017-18

Allan Rossman

Once again I am very pleased to be writing the introduction to our Cal Poly Statistics Department newsletter. Our department has continued to grow over the past year, as we now have 159 students majoring in statistics at Cal Poly, a 212 percent increase over the 51 majors we had just eight years ago. Our numbers are also increasing for students minoring in statistics (93), data science (36), and actuarial preparation (20). We offered a new 400-level course in Bayesian statistics in the fall, and we’ll offer a course in statistical learning for the first time this coming spring. This is an exciting time to be a statistician, or to be studying to become one, at Cal Poly.

As always, the highlight of being department chair is interacting with such terrific students and faculty. Please read in this newsletter about some accomplishments of our students who were finalists in a national competition and recognized at the SAS Global Forum.

I hope that you’ll read updates from our faculty as well. We welcomed a new tenure-track faculty member this year, Kelly Bodwin. Kelly came to Cal Poly from Harvard and the University of North Carolina. Her research interests include data mining and machine learning, with applications in diverse areas such as genetics, neuroscience and text analysis. Kelly has been teaching our introductory course for students majoring in life sciences, and in the spring she will teach our course in multivariate analysis.

Another change in our department is that Melody Pietsch, who served as our administrative support coordinator (and unofficial heart and soul) for many years has happily entered into retirement. One of Melody’s last tasks at Cal Poly was also one of her most successful and impactful: helping to hire her replacement. I’m delighted that Melody’s role is now being filled by Katie Doctor, who joined us last summer from the University of Texas at Dallas. Katie is already making invaluable contributions to the running of our department.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I also urge you to read updates from our wonderful group of alumni, nearly 100 of whom took the time to write in with updates on their professional and personal lives. This newsletter provides a great opportunity to recognize and appreciate what impressive contributions our alumni are making to society.

Thanks very much to everyone who contributed to this newsletter. Best wishes, and please keep in touch,

Allan Rossman

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