Yujie Zhong, Pierre Robillard Award 2016

Yujie Zhong
Pierre Robillard Award
University of Waterloo

Thesis Advisor: 

Richard Cook

Thesis Topic: 

Life History Analysis with Response Dependent Observation

This prize recognizes the best PhD thesis in probability or statistics defended at a Canadian university in a given year.


Yujie Zhong is the winner of the 2015 Pierre Robillard Award of the Statistical Society of Canada. Yujie’s thesis, entitled “Life History Analysis with ResponseDependent Observation”, was written while she was a doctoral student at the University of Waterloo working under the supervision of Richard Cook.


Yujie’s research focused on the analysis of life history data under response-dependent observation schemes, which may arise by design or as a consequence of censoring. A major focus of her work was on the development of innovative methods for the analysis of biased samples routinely collected in family studies aiming to explore the genetic basis for disease. Disease onset times of some participants in such studies are subject to a current status observation scheme and the response-biased selection process yields truncated data. Integration of auxiliary data on the marginal onset time distribution, through use of augmented likelihood and composite likelihood, facilitates more efficient dependence modeling. Through application of her methods to a motivating study, insight has been gained regarding excessive paternal transmission of psoriatic arthritis. Other topics explored in her thesis include the design of cluster-randomized trials based on right- or interval-censored failure time data, the consequences of error in reporting disease onset times in prevalent cohort studies, and multistate analysis of progression and survival times in cancer trials.


Yujie was born in Jiangxi, China. She received a Bachelor of Mathematics from the China University of Petroleum in Beijing in 2007, followed by a Masters of Mathematics from Renmin University of China. Upon completing her Masters of Mathematics (Biostatistics) at the University of Waterloo in 2011 she began her doctoral studies, completing her program in 2015. Yujie is currently an Investigator Statistician in the MRC Biostatistics Unit in Cambridge, England. Her current research interests are stratified medicine including longitudinal modeling of biomarker processes, risk stratification, prediction and validation, the analysis of complex life history processes, the use of weights to account for dependent sampling and censoring, and clinical trial design.


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.

The citation for the award reads: 

“To Yujie Zhong, for the thesis entitled ‘Life History Analysis with Response-Dependent Observation.”