Website Update

Letter from the Chair: 2024

Andrew SchaffnerDear Statistics Alumni and Friends,

As we enter into summer here on the Central Coast, we find ourselves reflecting on the remarkable journey our department has taken over the past year. The Cal Poly Statistics Department continues to flourish, and I'm thrilled to share our latest news with you.

We've recently achieved a significant milestone with the launch of our Master’s program in Statistics. This June, we celebrated our first cohort of eight blended MS students as they crossed the stage to receive their degrees. The program, now home to 34 students, is thriving and growing, embodying our department's spirit of innovation and academic excellence. If you’d like to learn more about what makes this program unique, you can find additional details here.

Our faculty have had an outstanding year, and we're so proud of their achievements both personal and professional. We celebrated alongside Anelise Sabbag as she embraced her new status as a U.S. citizen. And, we rejoiced with Bret Holladay as he welcomed his daughter, Camilla, to the world even while training and winning a pickleball competition with Emily Robinson! Kelly Bodwin was invited to deliver the keynote at the prestigious UseR! conference in Salzburg this July. Karen McGaughey, Beth Chance, Soma Roy, and Anelise Sabbag were awarded an NSF grant to expand and assess the art and practice of statistical thinking in post-secondary classes. Meanwhile, Emily Robinson has been busy making a difference in our local SLO community, working with two students to develop dashboards for the People's Kitchen, helping administrators better understand usage patterns of the meal services they provide to the unhoused and those in need in San Luis Obispo.

In April, the Department hosted our first in-person Datafest, organized by Emily Robinson, which was a resounding success. The event brought together 40 student participants, supported by eleven faculty members and four judges, in a weekend-long competition that showcased their ingenuity and collaboration. The event embodied the department’s ethos of "Learn by Doing," preparing students for real-world data science challenges and creating lasting memories.  

Next fall, we are excited to welcome three new tenure-line faculty members to our vibrant academic community. Cemal Deniz Yenigün brings a wealth of knowledge from his time as Department Chair of Industrial Engineering at Istanbul Bilgi University. His research interests span alternative dependence measures, survival analysis, and social network analysis. He has worked on cutting-edge topics like maximal correlation and distance correlation, as well as innovative applications in survival analysis and network estimation. Julia Schedler, a proud Cal Poly Statistics alumna, is joining us from Rice University, where she focused on spatial models and their applications, particularly in specifying spatial weight matrices for improved standard error estimation. Charlotte Mann, soon to complete her Ph.D. in statistics from the University of Michigan, specializes in combining experimental and observational data for causal inference, particularly in educational studies. Each of these new members will add depth and diversity to our faculty.

We’re in the final stages of our two-year program review, and the feedback from our reviewers has been overwhelmingly positive. The review team praised our department for delivering a high-quality program, fostering strong faculty-student connections, and maintaining a close-knit community even as we've grown. Their feedback will guide us as we continue our journey of excellence.

As always, we love hearing from our alumni. Your updates bring joy and inspiration to our department, and we encourage you to share your news with us. If you'd like a reminder, simply send your email contact information to to join our newsletter list.  

Your involvement, whether through mentorship, participating in seminars, or supporting our new Master’s program, is invaluable to our continued growth and success. Thank you for being part of our journey! Your support enriches our community and helps us achieve new heights each year. Please enjoy the rest of the newsletter, and we look forward to welcoming you at our upcoming events.

Warm regards,

Andrew Schaffner
Statistics Department Chair

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