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Xuming He to chair new Department of Statistics and Data Science

Xuming He is a renowned leader in the fields of robust statistics, quantile regression, Bayesian inference, and post-selection inference. He will join Arts & Sciences from the University of Michigan.

Xuming He will join Arts & Sciences this July as the inaugural chair of the new Department of Statistics and Data Science. Currently the H.C. Carver Collegiate Professor of Statistics at the University of Michigan, He is a renowned leader in the fields of robust statistics, quantile regression, Bayesian inference, and post-selection inference. He is also a proponent of interdisciplinary research in data science.

“Professor He is a truly exceptional scholar, educator, and leader,” said Feng Sheng Hu, dean of Arts & Sciences. “My hope — and one I know he shares — is that the launch of this department will not only advance our work in statistics and data science but also strengthen applied computational research and education across A&S and the university.”

Xuming He

The new department is the result of a close collaboration with the McKelvey School of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering. “Data science is not only an immensely important field in its own right but also dramatically impacts and is impacted by computing,” said Aaron Bobick, dean of the McKelvey School and chair of the search committee that identified He. “The field of candidates was truly remarkable and I could not be more excited with the results. I’m eager to work with Xuming on his new department, which will serve as a vital conduit between Arts & Sciences and Engineering for research and education on emerging fields of computing and statistics.”

Before joining the University of Michigan in 2011, He held positions at the National University of Singapore and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and served as program director of statistics at the National Science Foundation. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Statistical Association. His professional service includes time as a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Institute of Statistical Sciences and president-elect of the International Statistical Institute.

“Xuming is an excellent researcher and a world leader on quantile regression and high-dimensional statistics,” said Soumendra Lahiri, the Stanley A. Sawyer Professor in Mathematics and Statistics. “His years of experience will help him develop a first-rate department in modern statistics and data science at WashU.”

He is looking forward to chairing the new department at a time when demand for statistics research and education is growing at the national and international level. “There is no better time than right now to develop a new department in statistics and data science at WashU,” He said. “I have known WashU as a top-ranked university for decades, and I’m excited by the university’s new commitment to statistics and data science. The new department will contribute to WashU's existing strengths.”

Deanna Barch, vice dean of research, said He’s appointment will allow for collaborations with other department and schools, including biomedical sciences, Earth and planetary sciences, psychological and brain sciences, economics, and public health. “Professor He is the perfect person to the lead the new Department of Statistics and Data Science,” Barch said. “His research program represents exactly the type of interdisciplinary scholarship we hope characterizes this exciting new department.”

The creation of a new department led by He will greatly enrich opportunities for undergraduate students at WashU, said Erin McGlothlin, vice dean of undergraduate affairs. “Our students express a strong interest in acquiring fluency and even expertise in computational and data analysis, and this new department will help us meet their intellectual and vocational needs in these areas,” she said. "Im eager to work with Professor He on undergraduate education in general and the objectives of the Literacies for Life and Career signature initiative in particular, especially in the areas of data and computational literacies.”

The Department of Statistics and Data Science was born out of the Arts & Sciences strategic plan and furthers the university-wide vision of innovative digital transformation outlined under the “Here & Next” plan.

“Xuming He is an outstanding fit for WashU, especially as the university continues to invest in the unprecedented resources of the modern data and computational age,” said Philip R.O. Payne, digital transformation lead for the university’s strategic plan and director of the School of Medicine’s Institute for Informatics, Data Science and Biostatistics. “His extensive domain knowledge and leadership will have a transformative effect that reaches beyond Arts & Sciences to bring the power of modern statistical and data science theories and methods to all areas of the university.”

He plans to use the months leading up to July 1 to continue building connections. “I have talked to many stakeholders on campus, and I share their vision for building a collaborative and forward-looking department at WashU,” he said.