Juli Atherton and Jingjing Wu, Pierre Robillard Award 2008

Juli Atherton
Jingjing Wu
Pierre Robillard Award

The Pierre Robillard Award is awarded each year by the Statistical Society of Canada (SSC) to the author of the best doctoral thesis in probability or statistics defended at a Canadian university. In 2007, there are exceptionally two winners: Drs Juli Atherton and Jingjing Wu.

Dr Atherton's thesis is entitled “Bayesian optimal design for changepoint problems.” It was completed at McGill University under the joint supervision of Professors David B. Wolfson and Alain C. Vandal. Dr Atherton's thesis concerns optimal designs for changepoint problems where there is a possible change in mean at an unknown location. Through the introduction of a design measure, different in structure but similar in spirit to that of Kiefer, very general optimal design results were obtained to estimate the before- and after-change means and to test for a change. Dr Atherton is currently extending these results to other changepoint and latent variable models.

Dr Wu's thesis is entitled “Minimum Hellinger Distance estimation in semiparametric models.” It was completed at the University of Alberta under the supervision of Professor Rohana J. Karunamuni. Dr Wu's thesis investigates minimum Hellinger distance (MHD) estimators in various semiparametric models. It is known that MHD estimators achieve efficiency at the model density and that they have desirable robustness properties in fully parametric models. Dr Wu's results extend the use of the MHD approach to semiparametric models, where it yields robust and efficient estimators.

After completing an M.Sc. in Physical Oceanography at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr Atherton moved to Montréal in 2002 to begin graduate studies in statistics at McGill University. She received her Ph.D. in 2007. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher with Professors Peter Bickel and Haiyan Huang at the University of California at Berkeley, where she has been collaborating on the Berkeley Drosophila Transcription Network Project. Later this year she will come back to Montréal to take up a position as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health at McGill University.

Dr Wu completed her B.Sc. and M.Sc. in China, at the Central University for Nationalities (1999) and at the Beijing Normal University (2002). She then came to Canada to study at the University of Alberta and received her Ph.D. in 2007. She is now an Assistant Professor at the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Calgary.