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1 February 2017 50 views No Comment

Katherine Monti

Rho, a full-service contract research organization (CRO), recently announced the retirement of Chief Statistical Scientist Katherine Monti.

Monti is well known in the statistical world for her service to the American Statistical Association and participation on research teams that have made significant contributions to the health of human beings and some of their pets. 

Rho co-founder and former UNC biostatistics professor Ronald Helms had the following to say:

Wow! What a career! Not surprising, I suppose, as Kathy was one of the smartest, hardest-working PhD students to go through the UNC biostat program. One is reminded of the old line, “Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, except backwards and in high heels.” Kathy not only succeeded, she used her intelligence, education, “street smarts,” and charm to excel in institutions and companies with cultures that had, shall we say, “traditional attitudes” toward professional women, even one with a PhD from one of the most highly respected biostatics programs in the world. And all that while very successfully bringing up two rambunctious sons. Eighteen years ago, we were truly fortunate to have Kathy join Rho. She claims to have been drawn by the culture of Rho, a culture valuing quality, caring, teamwork, and celebration of diversity.

On the human medical research side of her career, including her work at Rho, Monti has collaborated with researchers in a wide range of fields, including chronic and acute pain, oncology, chronic and intra-operative hypertension, kidney disease, gastrointestinal disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, non-Alzheimer’s memory impairment, traumatic brain injury, chronic and acute respiratory diseases, AIDS, osteoarthritis, gynecology, autism, fragile X, and aesthetic indications in dermatology.

Monti achieved prominence in the statistical community for her work at the ASA. In 2007, the ASA recognized Monti’s achievements by bestowing on her the title of Fellow. The ASA topped that by placing her on the Committee of Fellows, which annually selects ASA members for that honor from a pool of nominees, and subsequently topped even that by making her the chair of that committee. Additionally, in 2014, she was honored by the Boston Chapter with the Mosteller Statistician of the Year Award.

ASA members elected Monti to association positions, including member of the ASA Board of Directors, chair of the Biopharmaceutical Section, and secretary and then president of the Boston Chapter. ASA presidents appointed her to some of the association’s committees, notably the Advisory Committee on Continuing Education. Always eager to attract students to statistics, Monti has organized and participated in many career-related sessions, hosted career-oriented roundtables, and contributed to STATtr@k and the Amstat News career series “A Day in the Life of a Statistician.”

Monti completed her undergraduate degree in mathematics at Oberlin College before earning her PhD in biostatistics from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1975.  She then served on the faculty of the University of Missouri-St. Louis before switching to industry, supporting veterinary and food science research at Ralston-Purina. While there, Monti’s work in veterinary medicine included research on feline reproduction and canine restricted feeding. Ralston’s research was the first to demonstrate that canine hip dysplasia can be prevented or ameliorated in large breeds by either restricting food intake or, during the puppy stage, feeding a diet with a specially calibrated balance of anions. One of Monti’s favorite projects, which produced many humorous anecdotes, was a project that optimized the Twinkie recipe for product “springiness.” She also wrote and distributed the highly popular quarterly “newsletter,” Statistically Speaking, in which she used humor and her pedagogical skills to explain one basic statistical topic per issue to more than 150 scientists in the Ralston research community.

Monti later moved to Boston, where she first worked on the development of new medical devices and diagnostic tests (including the first prostate-specific antigen test) at Ciba Corning Diagnostics Corp., and then helped develop new human drugs at Astra Pharmaceuticals. In 1998, she became director of Rho’s Massachusetts office. Monti relocated to the Chicago area in 2011, serving Rho as a chief statistical scientist at the time of her retirement.

Monti has a wide variety of activities planned for retirement, including marrying her fiancé John (date: May 2017), spending time with their combined five children and six (soon to be seven) grandchildren in four states, traveling, learning Spanish, expanding information on the family tree, attacking her list of “to be read” books, and exercising more frequently. She and John are also investigating several volunteering opportunities.

Arthur Benjamin

Arthur Benjamin, the Smallwood Family Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College, was honored recently with the 2017 JPBM Communications Award for Public Outreach during the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Benjamin is honored for his books aimed at general audiences, TED talks, popular video courses from The Great Courses, and “mathemagics” performances. His work demonstrates “his ability and commitment to share the joy of mathematics, and [he] excites and engages audiences at all levels,” the prize citation says.

As both a mathematician and a magician, Benjamin performs a mixture of math and magic to audiences all over the world, including the Magic Castle in Hollywood. He has demonstrated and explained his calculating talents in his book and DVD course, Secrets of Mental Math, and on numerous television programs. He has been featured in many national newspapers and magazines and has given three TED talks, which have been viewed more than 12 million times. Princeton Review recently profiled him in the book The Best 300 Professors, and Reader’s Digest calls him “America’s Best Math Whiz.”

Benjamin earned his bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from Carnegie Mellon University and his doctorate in mathematical sciences from The Johns Hopkins University. Since 1989, he has taught at Harvey Mudd College. In 2000, he received the Haimo Award for Distinguished Teaching from the Mathematical Association of America.

The Joint Policy Board for Mathematics (JPBM) represents the American Mathematical Society, American Statistical Association, Mathematical Association of America, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. Presented annually, the JPBM Communications Award recognizes outstanding achievement in communicating about mathematics to nonmathematicians.

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