Carnegie Mellon University
April 08, 2014

Press Release: Christopher R. Genovese To Head Carnegie Mellon's Department of Statistics

Contact: Shilo Rea / 412-268-6094 /

GenovesePITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University has selected Christopher R. Genovese to head its Department of Statistics, a global leader in applying statistics to many areas of science, technology, policy and education, effective July 1, 2014. Genovese, professor of statistics, succeeds Mark Schervish, who has served as department head for the past 10 years.

"The Department of Statistics is central to several of Carnegie Mellon's major strategic initiatives — which also reflect many of the central problems facing the world today, such as data science, brain science, learning science, cybersecurity and privacy, computational biology, genetics and cosmology," said John Lehoczky, dean of the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. "Chris Genovese is a truly brilliant applied and theoretical statistician who is ideally suited to lead the department at a time when statistical science is rapidly evolving to meet the challenging demands of 'big data' and a wide array of scientific problems. Under his leadership, I am confident that the department will continue its international prominence."

Genovese joined Carnegie Mellon in 1994. His research focuses on solving complex and high-dimensional problems in the sciences. His work has produced new methods and results in neuroscience, evolutionary biology, learning science and cosmology/astrophysics.

His paper introducing a Bayesian model for the analysis of functional magnetic resonance imaging data was awarded application paper of the year by the American Statistical Association. He uses data from large-scale astronomical surveys to understand the evolution and history of the universe and helped to build Carnegie Mellon's Astrostatistics group, an international leader in the application of statistics to observational cosmology.

Genovese's work in the learning sciences focuses on modeling students' learning state from data collected as the students interact with online instruction. He is the co-creator of the "Learning Dashboard," a system that analyzes student data in real time and provides interpretable and actionable inferences, recommendations, and data visualizations for both students and instructors. He also does theoretical work in a variety of areas including finding low-dimensional structures in high-dimensional data and combining many statistical tests into a single coherent decision.

Genovese is a fellow of the American Statistical Association and the Institute of Mathematical Statistics. He has been awarded funding from numerous agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, NASA and the Department of Energy. He is a recipient of a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation and a Shannon Award from the National Institutes of Health.

Genovese has also been active as an educator, both at the graduate and undergraduate levels. He has created several new courses and has consistently innovated in instructional design.

The Department of Statistics has approximately 20 core faculty members and numerous visiting faculty, postdoctoral researchers, graduate students and staff. Together, they tackle many challenging and important problems in statistical theory, methodology and applications. Genovese believes that it is the department's people who make it so strong and is looking forward to helping the department find its most productive path in a changing world.

"Our faculty are doing research that touches almost every critical problem in statistics and are bringing new ideas and approaches to the field," Genovese said. "Part of what makes the department unique is the extent to which we value the direct impact of our work on practitioners, policy makers, and scientists. Moreover, this applied work relies on and, in turn, strengthens our contributions to statistical theory."

He continued, "We are at a time of great opportunity for statistics as a field to broaden its impact. But this opportunity also raises challenges. The field is changing and technology is evolving so quickly that statisticians will have to do some things differently to stay at the frontier. Our department is well positioned to do that."

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Christopher R. Genovese (pictured above) joined CMU in 1994. His work has produced new methods and results in neuroscience, evolutionary biology, learning science and cosmology/astrophysics.