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People News for May 2010

13 May 2010 1,260 views No Comment

Tom Gerig

Tom Gerig received the Paul Minton Service Award in recognition of his leadership as a graduate director and head of the department of statistics at North Carolina State University. The award was presented by Mike Kutner, past president of the Southern Regional Council on Statistics (SRCOS).

The citation said that Gerig earned the award for “building a very successful graduate industrial traineeship program for training future problemsolvers, his continuous dedicated promotion of SRCOS for many years, and his national leadership in promoting vertical integration of research and education in mathematical sciences.”

The Minton Award was established in honor of Paul Minton, who served the statistics profession nationally and was instrumental in the continued development of statistical education in the region represented by SRCOS.

North Carolina State University

The mathematics department at North Carolina State University has received the 2010 AMS Award for an Exemplary Program or Achievement in a Mathematics Department. Presented annually by the American Mathematical Society, the award recognizes a mathematics department that has distinguished itself by undertaking an unusual or particularly effective program of value to the mathematics community, internally or in relation to the rest of society.

“This year’s pool of nominations for the award was very strong, with many deserving departments, and it was a challenging decision to come down to a single awardee,” said Steven Bleiler of Portland State University, who served as chair of the selection committee. “However, in the end the committee came to a full consensus that North Carolina State was ‘first among equals.’

“NC State’s particular combination of a strong commitment to outreach, well-thought-out programs for students, and a long-standing dedication to diversity in the mathematics work force is singularly worthy of recognition and emulation by the broader mathematical community in these difficult times,” Bleiler added.

The math department cultivates a student-centered, open-door approach among its faculty so that students feel included and welcomed. They are treated like young colleagues being guided into the profession. The department inculcates dedication to students through tangible rewards to faculty, such as salary increases, as well as through leadership by key faculty members. In addition, the department has secured several large grants from the federal government that support its many programs.

The department has had special success in mentoring students traditionally underrepresented in mathematics. The percentage of female graduate students has steadily increased from its historic average of around 33% to its current level of 49%. In the last 10 years, more than 10 African-American students earned PhDs in the department. The department has also awarded PhDs to several students of Hispanic origin as well as to two students of Native American origin.

At the undergraduate level, approximately one-quarter of the graduates come from underrepresented minorities. The department is also stepping into the national arena to increase diversity in the mathematical sciences: It recently led the formation of a national program of mathematical postdocs for underrepresented minority mathematicians.

The official announcement of the award, including the selection committee’s citation, is available from the AMS Public Awareness Office and will appear in the May issue of Noticesof the AMS, here.

Richard L. Smith

Richard L. Smith is joining the Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute (SAMSI) as its new director starting in July. The announcement was made by Dan Solomon, chair of the governing board for SAMSI. Smith will be the second director of the institute, replacing Jim Berger.

Smith is also professor of statistics at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and has held this position since 1991. He became Mark L. Reed III Distinguished Professor in July 2004. Since 2008, he has also held the position of professor of biostatistics in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Smith earned his PhD from Cornell University in 1979 and has previously held academic positions at Imperial College (London), the University of Surrey (Guildford, England), and Cambridge University. His principal areas of research are spatial statistics, time-series analysis, extreme value theory, and Bayesian statistics. Specific areas of expertise include spatial and time-series modeling of environmental pollutants, the health effects of atmospheric pollution, the statistics of global climate change, and extreme values in insurance and finance.

He is a Fellow of the ASA and the Institute of Mathematical Statistics and an elected member of the International Statistical Institute. In addition, he has won the Guy Medal in Silver of the Royal Statistical Society and the Distinguished Achievement Medal of the ASA Section on Statistics and the Environment.

In 2004 he was the J. Stuart Hunter Lecturer of the International Environmetrics Society.
He is also a chartered statistician of the Royal Statistical Society.

“Richard brings a wealth of experience to the role of the director of SAMSI. We are eager to have him in this new capacity at SAMSI. He has some excellent ideas for education and outreach efforts and will bring a great amount of technical expertise to the table,” notes Solomon, who also is dean of the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences at North Carolina State University.

Smith is expected to develop innovative program ideas for future SAMSI programs. He will effectively coordinate with SAMSI’s partner universities and departments and with the National Institute of Statistical Sciences and with other statistics and mathematical sciences institutes. He will work with the staff to prepare a new grant proposal to the National Science Foundation. The current grant will expire in 2012.

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