Statistics Department Honors Graduates with Online Commencement

Statistics Department Honors Graduates with Online Commencement

Jon Bashor

The Statistics Department held its online graduation on Friday, May 21, honoring graduates who received their doctorates, master’s and bachelor’s degrees and announcing the recipients of department academic awards.

For the 2020-21 school year, Statistics awarded 162 Bachelor’s degrees, 43 Master’s and eight Ph.D.s.

Statistics Department Chair and Professor Sandrine Dudoit opened the recorded ceremony by saying that when she recorded her comments for last year’s graduating class, she never expected the pandemic to force her to do the same a year later.

“You have overcome more than a year of obstacles in and outside of the classroom to achieve this important milestone,” Dudoit said. “In today’s data-intensive world, your training in statistics is more relevant than ever.

“Statistics is the backbone of epidemiological studies of infectious diseases and of the clinical trials that have led to the COVID vaccines,” Dudoit said. “So go use your skills to learn from data, to promote the ethical use of data and algorithms for analyzing data and to debunk misinformation.”

Dudoit then introduced a surprise message from actor and producer Ralph Macchio, who is best known for his starring role in the Karate Kid movies, as well as other movies and television shows. After commiserating that it was “a bummer you can’t walk across the stage to receive your diploma,” Macchio passed along greetings and advice from Miyagi-Do, Eagle Fang and even Cobra Kai (his nemesis): “Remember to strike first, strike hard and show a little bit of mercy as you find your balance.”

Student awards
As each class was announced, students receiving special awards were highlighted.

The Erich Lehmann Award for an outstanding Ph.D. dissertation in theoretical statistics was given to Aurélien Bibaut, who earned his doctorate in biostatistics.

The Evelyn Fix Prize presented to student(s) showing the greatest promise in statistical research, with preference given for applications to biology and problems of health, was awarded to Xiao Li.

The Department Citation, awarded for excellence in theory and application of statistics and outstanding performance in the Master’s program, was given to Ryan Roggenkemper. Roggenkemper was also recognized with an Outstanding Teaching Award from the Data Science Undergraduate Studies program for his work as a graduate student instructor.

The Elizabeth Scott Memorial Award, given to a student showing the greatest promise in statistical research, was given to Master’s graduate Joshua Hug.

Among students receiving their Bachelor’s degrees, the Department Citation recognizing distinguished undergraduate achievement in statistics was awarded to Yanwei (Jamarcus) Liu. After completing Statistics 140: Probability in Data Science in Fall 2018, Liu was invited to apply to join the course staff. He was accepted and spent five semesters as a tutor, then head GSI. “I witnessed the growth of many students and saw them take away a newfound passion in statistics,” Liu said.

2021 Commencement Slides

Find commencement slides for each of our 2021 graduates here.