Carnegie Mellon University will be honoring former UW Statistics Ph.D student and alumna, Rebecca Nugent, as she receives the Stephen E. and Joyce Fienberg Professorship in Statistics and Data Science on November 21, 2019. 

Background on Rebecca Nugent

Rebecca Nugent is the Associate Department Head and Co-Director of Undergraduate Studies for Carnegie Mellon Statistics & Data Science. She was advised by Professor Werner Stuetzle and has received her Ph.D. in Statistics from the University of Washington. Prior to that, she received her B.A. in Mathematics, Statistics, and Spanish from Rice University and her M.S. in Statistics from Stanford University. 

She has won several national and university teaching awards, including the American Statistical Association Waller Award for Innovation in Statistics Education, and serves as one of the co-editors of the Springer Texts in Statistics. She recently served on the National Academy of Sciences study on Envisioning the Data Science Discipline: The Undergraduate Perspective and is the co-chair of the current NAS study on Improving Defense Acquisition Workforce Capability in Data Use. She is the Founding Director of the Statistics & Data Science Corporate Capstone program, an experiential learning initiative that matches groups of faculty and students with data science problems in industry, non-profits, and government organizations. 

She has worked extensively in clustering and classification methodology with an emphasis on high-dimensional, big data problems. Her current research focus is the development and deployment of low-barrier data analysis platforms that allow for adaptive instruction and the study of data science as a science.

Background on Stephen E. and Joyce Fienberg Professorship

Stephen E. Fienberg joined CMU’s Statistics & Data Science Department in 1980. For 36 years, he developed statistical applications to influence science and public policy, ranging from human rights and privacy to forensics and census taking. Stephen shared his passion for statistics by training and mentoring the next generation of statisticians and data scientists. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Political and Social Science, the Royal Society of Canada, American Statistical Association (ASA), Institute of Mathematical Statistics and the International Society for Bayesian Analysis (ISBA). Stephen also served as dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (now Dietrich College) from 1987 to 1991, after which he briefly left CMU to serve as Vice President of Academic Affairs at York University from 1991 to 1993 in his hometown of Toronto. 

Stephen was joined in life by his wife, Joyce, who received her bachelor’s degree in social psychology at the University of Toronto. In 1982, she joined the research group headed by Gaea Leinhardt at the University of Pittsburgh’s Learning Research and Development Center. Joyce’s research group examined the ways teachers interact with their students, the skills needed to be an effective teacher and how people learn from exhibits at museums. 

Stephen Fienberg passed away on December 14, 2016, following a long battle with cancer. The Dietrich community was devastated to lose Joyce Fienberg less than two years later in the Tree of Life tragedy. The professorship was named in grateful appreciation for the Fienbergs’ long-standing relationship with and contribution to the CMU community.