Carnegie Mellon University

F. William Townes

F. William Townes

Assistant Professor

5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


I joined Carnegie Mellon as an assistant professor in 2022. Before that, I was a postdoctoral fellow in Computer Science at Princeton University working with Barbara Engelhardt. I received my PhD in biostatistics at Harvard University, where I was advised by Rafael Irizarry. My path to statistics has been circuitous. I started out studying tropical ecology and conducted fieldwork in the Philippines. I completed my MS in math and statistics at Georgetown while working as a software tester for the EPA. As a result, I am interested in a wide variety of applications and enjoy interdisciplinary collaborations.

Specific Research Interests

I am involved with infectious disease as part of the Delphi group, and have developed methods for spatial and single-cell genomics. I am also interested in wearable devices, ecology (metagenomics, conservation), and economics (international development, finance). I am a believer in the importance of exploratory analysis and data visualization. While I am most comfortable thinking in terms of probabilistic (Bayesian) models, I am philosophically a pragmatist and draw inspiration from diverse statistical perspectives. Finally, a recurring theme of my work is computational scalability and efficiency, for example through approximate inference techniques.

Lab Groups