KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University's Department of Statistics has been named an affiliate of the National Institute of Statistical Sciences.
The NISS Affiliate Program is a communication enabler for the statistical and data science community. The program brings together statistical and data science professionals from all sectors, including academia, industry, and governmental and national labs, to support research discussions, information dissemination, human resource development and networking.
"We're very happy to become a new academic affiliate of NISS," says Dr. Kevin Lee, WMU assistant professor of statistics and its junior NISS affiliate liaison. "Inclusion in the NISS Affiliate Program opens up new developmental and collaboration opportunities, especially for junior faculty, and also increases the department's visibility."
WMU's Department of Statistics offers master's and doctoral programs in the field, as well as a variety of undergraduate majors and minors. Expanding its curriculum to meet industry demands, the department also has recently started offering bachelor's and master's degree programs in data science.
"Curricula of the programs offered by our department are modernized to strengthen students' computing skills," says Dr. Magdalena Niewiadomska-Bugaj, department chair and primary NISS affiliate liaison. "Our recent faculty hires have expertise in data mining, network analysis and data visualization, all of which are essential to the industry's evolving needs."
Catering to growing demands
As the world becomes more quantitative and information driven, there is an ever-increasing need to understand and draw insight from data. But Niewiadomska-Bugaj says WMU students in statistics department programs are well prepared to meet the demands of their rapidly developing discipline.
"We monitor what skills employers list in job announcements and where our graduates are hired," she says. "WMU prepares students for careers in academia, industry and government by teaching the skills that are most useful, and we also provide foundations that allow our students to acquire new skills and learn developing methodologies."
Niewiadomska-Bugaj adds that the research focus of the statistics department is slightly shifting toward new challenges that arise from working with big data, such as data mining, data visualization and network analysis.
"We want to be at the industry's forefront," she says. "While providing necessary mathematical rigor, our programs and research projects also respond and adapt to the specific needs of a quickly changing world."
The NISS affiliation allows the department to enhance those opportunities for multidisciplinary research collaboration, as well as identify and develop new statistical methodologies to address real-world challenges.
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