One of the first-established academic departments at Temple University’s Fox School of Business is getting a new name, and is set to introduce a new undergraduate degree program.
The Fox School’s Department of Statistics will soon be rebranded as the Department of Statistical Science. Additionally, the department will unveil a Bachelor of Science degree program in Statistical Science and Data Analytics. Both changes are effective for the 2016-17 academic year, following the approval in March by Temple’s Board of Trustees.
The department had been known as the Department of Statistics since its establishment in 1929, 11 years after the founding of the Fox School.
“Rebranding our department as the Department of Statistical Science reflects the breadth of our department’s academic research, the discipline’s changing landscape, and our department’s renewed focus on engaging in quality research that reshapes the field of statistics and to train new generations of statistically skilled graduates,” said Dr. Sanat K. Sarkar, Chair of the Department of Statistical Science.
The new department name, Sarkar added, is reflective of the discipline’s evolution into one that “develops newer subfields and its interdisciplinary research with scientists in modern scientific investigations involving complex data.”
In Fall 2016, the department will launch its Bachelor of Science undergraduate degree program in Statistical Science and Data Analytics. The demand for the program, said program director Dr. Alexandra Carides, has been driven by the proliferation of computing technology, software, and statistical tools for capturing and interpreting the substantial volume of data now available at the enterprise, government, and personal levels.
The program will qualify students for professions in some of the fastest-growing job sectors, according to Carides.
“The program will provide undergraduate students with the ability to select, utilize, and apply quantitative reasoning and data analytic skills to their future field of study,” said Carides, an Assistant Professor of Statistical Science. “Knowledge of statistical theory and methods has become increasingly important to students in many disciplines. As more data are collected, stored, and analyzed, students are finding it increasingly beneficial to gain expertise in statistical science to strengthen their skills and enhance their career opportunities.”
For one researcher at the Fox School of Business, time is literally of the essence.
Dr. Robert T. Krafty, who will supervise research into biomedical time-series data collecting, has received a grant exceeding $843,000, awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH).
“The grant and all of my work looks at how we analyze data that’s collected over time,” said Krafty, Assistant Professor of Statistics. “The specific patterns of the data could tell us important information.”
The grant applications which Krafty will study pay particular attention to body signals, such as heartbeat electrocardiograms (EKGs) and brain-wave electroencephalogram (EEGs), and how these patterns are associated with different things such as measures of the quality of life or how well someone will respond to treatment.
“What I am doing is creating ways in which we can find out how these patterns are associated with certain outcomes,” Krafty said. “The main products are methods and tools that anyone can use to analyze big-time series data. The secondary goal is to apply those methods to our data on electrophysiology to see if we can help find a better way to understand how to treat sleep disorders.”
Krafty, the primary investigator for the grant, has two collaborators with whom he will work – Martica Hall, PhD, and Daniel Buysse, MD who are located at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Hall and Buysse are sleep-study researchers responsible for studying older adults who have trouble sleeping. Some of the patients they treat have sleeping issues due to the loss of a spouse, and others are primary caregivers for a spouse who has Parkinson’s disease. The data applied to their current research was collected from a previous study at the University of Pittsburgh, Krafty said, adding that the results produced by this grant will be used to create new statistical methods and programs to analyze collected statistical data more efficiently.
“What we want to know is what sort of patterns of physiology during sleep help indicate a better quality of life or if a patient will respond favorably to a treatment,” said Krafty.
So far in their preliminary research, Krafty and his team have found a connection between patterns of sleep and quality of life that suggests limiting the amount of sleep per night could be helpful in older adults. Krafty explained some global experts advocate that older adults should restrict their sleep. However, there was no actual evidence to back up that assumption until now, he said.
The awarded grant will also fully support one graduate student’s PhD education, Krafty said. Fox doctoral students, Scott Bruce and Zeda Li, are majoring in Statistics and have been selected by Krafty to work on the project.
The extensive time-series research Krafty is conducting will be completed by June 30, 2017.
Krafty has also been invited to speak at the NBER/NSF Time Series Conference , the leading international conference for time series data, which attracts top statisticians from around the world. At the conference, held Sept. 26-27 at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, in Missouri, Krafty will discuss the discoveries compiled in his research paper entitled, “Penalized Multivariate Whittle Likelihood for Power Spectrum Estimation.”
Statistics has been evolving into a much wider field with High Dimensional Statistics being currently considered as one of its most important components. This particular branch of statistics has grown out of modern research activities in diverse fields of science, technology, and business aided by powerful computing. It encompasses several emerging fields in statistics like high dimensional inference, dimension reduction, data mining, machine learning, and bioinformatics. Of course, many of these and other emerging statistical fields are modernized versions of traditional statistical fields such as multivariate analysis, design of experiments, survey sampling, Bayesian analysis, time series analysis, biostatistics, and statistical computing and graphics. The importance of High Dimensional Statistics can be seen from the fact that a large proportion of research projects presently funded by federal agencies and published in top-tier statistics journals is devoted to this area of statistical research. High dimensional statistical techniques are now being integrated into courses in other disciplines to create interdisciplinary programs.