Chair's Letter

Dear Friends of Statistics,

As the new Department Chair and a new member of the UW family, I am delighted to share with you an update on our accomplishments over the last few months, as well as my outlook for the year ahead.

2020 was a challenging year for everyone as we continue to respond to and cope with the ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic, and our department was not an exception. Since late Winter quarter 2020, all of our instructional and research activities have taken place online. While there is no doubt that this move has been difficult, I am thankful to our faculty and staff for their extraordinary work keeping our core operations functioning, and to our students for their understanding and resilience. Supporting all our students, no matter where they are in the world, remains foremost in our minds in the year ahead. Furthermore, the department, just like the rest of the University and the nation, is going through a reckoning with inequity, racism and police brutality. The social justice movement that gathered momentum after the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd has had a profound impact on our department, the Seattle community, and especially our students.

There are several ways in which the department rose to the challenges of 2020. Many of our faculty and graduate students are making fundamental contributions to COVID-19 research and social equality. During Autumn quarter, we offered well-received special topics courses on the Mathematics and Philosophy of Elections and on Data, Algorithms and Ethics. We also established the Blackwell seminar, named after David Blackwell, which focuses on topics at the interface between statistics and equity issues such as racial disparities, social justice, and ethics. The year also brought many successes. Various students and members of the faculty received awards or were elected to office at various professional societies. Over the summer we welcomed three new faculty members (including myself), and saw three more promoted to the rank of Full Professors.  A total of 27 undergraduates, 34 M.S. and 8 Ph.D. students graduated from our programs, while 10 new Ph.D. and 17 new M.S. students joined us. Our faculty played critical roles in various high-profile interdisciplinary initiatives across campus.  These are all successes that we look forward to celebrating in person once it is safe to do so. In the meantime, you can read more about these outstanding accomplishments and other department updates in this newsletter.

Looking forward to 2021, our main goal is to keep growing the stature of the department and its impact on the professional as well as broader community. One key step in that direction is to build up our faculty numbers, which have been depleted by recent retirements. On this front, I am happy to report that we are currently searching for two tenure-track assistant professors and one acting assistant professor, and that we expect to continue hiring in the future. In terms of our educational programs, we are also starting the process of reimagining our undergraduate program to recognize the growing professional opportunities available to our students, as well as the need to provide access to high-quality education in statistics to a more diverse population of students. I look forward to working with all the members of our extended community on these efforts.

Wishing you all a safe and successful new year!

Abel Rodriguez

Abel Rodriguez

Department Chair of Statistics