Do the math: UNC BIOS students win whopping percentages of national paper, poster awards

March 28, 2014

Six students in the Gillings School of Global Public Health’s Department of Biostatistics received awards for their research at the International Biometric Society’s Eastern North American Region (ENAR) spring meeting, held March 16-19 in Baltimore.


Some of the winning students and their advisers pose in front of Rosenau Hall. Standing (l-r) are Dr. Jianwen Cai, Thomas Stewart, Dr. Eric Bair, Ai (Andy) Ni and Dr. Amy Herring. In front (l-r) are Qian Liu, Jing Zhou and Fang-Shu Ou.

Qian Liu, Xiaoxi Liu, Ai (Andy) Ni, Fang-Shu Ou and Jing Zhou were among the more than 150 students nationwide who submitted papers for review by a panel of judges. Only 20 papers were selected for prizes.

Thomas Stewart, in collaboration with UNC biostatistics professors Drs. Donglin Zeng and Michael Wu, won a research poster award for his work, “Support Vector Classifiers and Missing Data: An Investigation of the Complete-Case Solution and a Proposal of an EM-like Solution,” one of only five poster awards presented.

“We’re so excited about the recognition these students have received,” said Michael Kosorok, PhD, W.R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor and chair of the Gillings School’s biostatistics department. “Over the past five years, on average, our students have won twice as many awards as any other biostatistics or statistics department at the ENAR conference, and that’s the case this year, as well – evidence that UNC biostatistics is at the frontier of research worldwide.”

“You do the math!” exclaimed Amy Herring, ScD, biostatistics professor and mentor-cheerleader for her students. “That’s 25 percent of the paper awards and 20 percent of the poster awards. Wow! We are so proud of these students. Their work is exceptional.”

The winning papers included:

  • Biclustering via Sparse Clustering (Qian Liu, in collaboration with Dr. Kosorok and Eric Bair, PhD, research assistant professor of endodontics, in UNC’s dentistry school and of biostatistics at the Gillings School);
  • Support Vector Hazards Regression for Survival Outcome (Xiaoxi Liu, in collaboration with Donglin Zeng, PhD, biostatistics professor);
  • Variable Selection for Case-Cohort Studies with a Diverging Number of Parameters (Ai Ni, in collaboration with Jianwen Cai, PhD, biostatistics professor);
  • Quantile Regression Models for Current Status Data (Fang-Shu Ou, in collaboration with Drs. Zeng and Cai); and
  • Bayesian Factorizations of Big Sparse Tensors (Jing Zhou, in collaboration with Dr. Herring).


The International Biometric Society is an international organization for the advancement of biological science through the development of quantitative theories and the application, development and dissemination of effective mathematical and statistical techniques. Its members include biologists, mathematicians, statisticians and others interested in applying similar techniques. The Eastern North American Region (ENAR) includes the majority of the United States and Canada.

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

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