Biostatistics students receive travel awards for ASA conference

April 18, 2017

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.”


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Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: David Pesci, director of communications, (919) 962-2600 or dpesci@unc.edu

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