BiosBeat

Welcome to the BiosBeat communication tool for the Department of Biostatistics at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health! Here you will find a collection of the latest department news, special features, dates to save, and so much more. So, read on, enjoy, and be sure to regularly check back for updates!


In this edition:

Biostatistics students receive travel awards for ASA conference
BIOS students awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowships
2017 Commencement
2017 Bernard G. Greenberg Distinguished Lecture Series
Register for the 2017 Atlantic Causal Inference Conference (ACIC)
Save the Dates


Biostatistics students receive travel awards for ASA conference

Chong Jin

Chong Jin

Rachel Nethery

Rachel Nethery

Chong Jin and Rachel Nethery, doctoral students of biostatistics at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, have been awarded American Statistical Association (ASA) travel awards. The awards will support Jin and Nethery as they present original research at the 2017 Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM) to be held in Baltimore from July 29 to August 3.

Jin received an award from the ASA’s Section on Statistics in Genomics and Genetics for his work on clonal evolution. As his paper describes, a tumor sample can be a mixture of heterogeneous cancer cells with different changes in genomes, which are called subclones. Jin attempts to reconstruct the subclone structures and create a plausible tumor evolution history by using joint modeling.

“A knowledge of intra-tumor heterogeneity can potentially facilitate cancer specialists to develop personalized tumor therapy and attack tumor cells with greater precision,” he explained.

Nethery earned her award from the Government and Social Statistics Section of the ASA for a paper on social vulnerability in Louisiana. As her work reveals, people from disadvantaged communities tend to be highly impacted by natural disasters. In order to identify such communities before disaster strikes, Nethery and her co-authors are developing an index to quantify the social features of communities in the state of Louisiana.

“This research presents an opportunity to analyze interesting spatial patterns and has the potential to impact real-world decisions and policies,” Nethery said. “The index can provide insight to policy makers and disaster responders about which communities are likely to need the most assistance during future disasters, and resources can be allocated accordingly.”

Jianwen Cai, PhD, Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished professor and interim chair of biostatistics, congratulated both students on their achievements. “Awards that allow students to attend conferences such as JSM are invaluable to the advancement of the students’ research as well as their careers,” she said. “Our department is very proud.”


BIOS students awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Taylor Lagler

Taylor Lagler

Elizabeth Chase

Elizabeth Chase

Elizabeth Chase and Taylor Lagler, students in the Department of Biostatistics at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, have won prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowships.

The purpose of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program is to help ensure the vitality and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce of the United States. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees in science and engineering.

With this award, Chase, an undergraduate student double majoring in biostatistics and history, and Lagler, a biostatistics doctoral student, have earned three years of support for their graduate educations.

Chase — whose undergraduate education was funded by UNC’s Colonel Robinson Scholarship — plans to complete doctoral research in biostatistics that will extend methods for studying health disparities and broader inequities.

“The award means more freedom in my choice of graduate program and graduate research area,” Chase said. “Getting an NSF Fellowship also provides validation for the work I proposed. I’m glad they thought my idea had potential and merit.”

Lagler also is grateful for the flexibility that the NSF Fellowship provides in terms of exploring potential research pursuits. She currently is interested in gene expression profiles and single-nucleotide polymorphism associations, and hopes to increase understanding of genetic risk factors for complex diseases across various populations.

“Receiving this award is a wonderful acknowledgement of not only my efforts, but the efforts of my mentors as well,” Lagler said. “Becoming an NSF Fellow encourages me to be a role model and mentor for someone else in the future. In particular, I’m eager to urge other women and underrepresented groups to pursue research in the sciences.”

“We are incredibly proud of Elizabeth and Taylor for being two of only three biostatistics students nationwide selected for this fellowship,” said Jianwen Cai, PhD, Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor and interim chair of biostatistics at the Gillings School. ”These are two outstanding young scholars, and we are very pleased to have them in our program.”

Chase and Lagler are the seventh and eighth biostatistics students from the Gillings School to receive NSF fellowships. They follow in the footsteps of alumni Naomi Brownstein, Emily Butler, Sheila Gaynor and Andrea Lane, as well as current biostatistics graduate students Erika Helgeson and Shaina Mitchell.


2017 Commencement

Commencement-Walkers-1024x683Gillings Commencement is May 13. The School will honor Dec. 2016, as well as May and Aug. 2017 graduates, at its 2017 commencement ceremony. Visit our commencement webpage for more details. Reception at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health immediately following Commencement.


2017 Bernard G. Greenberg Distinguished Lecture Series

PowerPoint Presentation

Register for the 2017 Atlantic Causal Inference Conference (ACIC)

old_well_springRegistration is open for the 2017 Atlantic Causal Inference Conference (ACIC), hosted by the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health’s Department of Biostatistics from May 23-25, 2017.

ACIC is a gathering of statisticians, biostatisticians, epidemiologists, economists, social science and policy researchers for the purpose of discussing methodological issues with drawing causal inferences from experimental and non-experimental data. The inaugural meeting was held in 2005 with a small group of researchers at Columbia University. It has since grown into an annual event with more than 150 attendees. Recent meetings have been hosted by Harvard University, Brown University and New York University.

The 2017 ACIC planning committee comprises

Visit the UNC Causal Inference Research Group (CIRG) website for information about ACIC and to learn how to register.


Save the Dates

Monday, May 15

2017 Bernard G. Greenberg Lecture Series
Blue Cross Blue Shield Auditorium, 0001 Michael Hooker Research Center

  • “Statistical Models in the Brain Sciences”
    10-11 a.m.
  • “Statistics, Computational Neuroscience and Dynamic Network Analysis”
    1-3 a.m.
Tuesday, May 16

2017 Bernard G. Greenberg Lecture Series
Blue Cross Blue Shield Auditorium, 0001 Michael Hooker Research Center

  • “The Gap Between Statistics Education and Statistical Practice”
    10-11 a.m.
Tuesday, May 23

2017 Atlantic Causal Inference Conference

Wednesday, May 24

2017 Atlantic Causal Inference Conference

Thursday, May 25

2017 Atlantic Causal Inference Conference

For more Gillings School events, view the school’s event calendar.