Michelle Zhou, Pierre Robillard Award 2010

Michelle Qian Zhou
Pierre Robillard Award
University of Waterloo

Thesis Advisor: 

Mary E. Thompson and Peter X.-K. Song

Michelle Qian Zhou is the winner of the 2009 Pierre Robillard Award of the Statistical Society of Canada. This prize recognizes the best Ph.D. thesis in probability or statistics defended at a Canadian university in a given year.

Michelle’s thesis is entitled “Information matrices in estimating function approach: Tests for model misspecification and model selection.” It was written at the University of Waterloo under the supervision of Mary E. Thompson and Peter X.-K. Song. In her work, Michelle focused on situations where the efficiency of the estimators of a model’s structural parameters could be affected if the covariance matrix is misspecified. In order to detect potential problems of this type, she designed tests based on the comparison of two information matrices. She examined the asymptotic behaviour of these tests and studied their power via simulation. She also proposed tools for making the best possible choice of covariance structure within a given class. She then compared these selection techniques with existing ones through simulations and data analyses.

Michelle was born in Tianjin, one of the four municipalities that have provincial-level status in the People’s Republic of China. She did her undergraduate studies at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei (Anhui Province). She started her Ph.D. program at the University of Waterloo in January 2006 and defended her thesis in August 2009. She now holds a postdoctoral position in the Department of Biostatistics at Harvard University.

Speaking in an interview, Michelle said that her father was the most influential person in her life. “He wanted me to be a civic-minded individual who contributes to society as a whole. He really motivated me to work hard always. Unfortunately, he died of cancer when I was only 18. I would like to dedicate my thesis and the Pierre Robillard Award to his memory.

The citation for the award reads: 

The criteria used in selecting the winner of the Pierre Robillard Award include the originality of ideas and techniques, the possible applications and their treatment, and the potential impact of the work. The award is named in memory of Professor Pierre Robillard, an outstanding dynamic young statistician at the Université de Montréal, whose untimely death in 1975 cut short what promised to be a highly distinguished career.