Student & Alumni Achievements

Student & Alumni Achievements

Washington Biostatistics Students Recognized at Regional Competition

Mr. Jonathan Fintzi, a PhD student in the department of biostatistics at the University of Washington School of Public Health, won the oral competition for the 2016 Western North American Region of The International Biometric Society Student Paper Competition, held recently in Victoria, B.C. Mr. Joshua Keller, also a PhD student in biostatistics at the School, was runner-up for the competition’s written category.

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[Mr. Jonathan Fintzi (left) and Mr. Joshua Keller]

Mr. Fintzi developed an efficient data augmentation framework that enables exact inference for stochastic epidemic model parameters without resorting to much more computationally intensive methods. “Our framework enables us to analyze data sets that would have previously been impossible to study without resorting to highly computationally intensive bleeding-edge methods,” Mr. Fintzi says. “We are very excited about the usefulness of this framework for applied researchers studying infectious diseases in both endemic and epidemic contexts.”

Mr. Keller developed a new method for selecting the penalty parameter for shrinkage estimators in linear regression. His paper showed how the method works well in different scenarios using simulations. “We applied it to an analysis of smoking status and cardiovascular health in a subgroup of participants from the MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis) cohort,” Mr. Keller says. “Using this approach, we estimated that the association between smoking and arterial thickness was stronger than previously estimated.” The method can be applied to a wide variety of settings in public health, Mr. Keller notes, but it is designed to be most helpful in studies with small samples.

Mr. Adam Brand, Mr. Arjun Sondhi and Ms. Qian Zhang, all PhD students in biostatistics at the School, were also cited for their excellent submissions in the student competition.