Awards & Newsworthy

Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences in Leipzig, Germany features my profile as a co-organizer of the Summer School on Randomness and Learning in Non-linear Algebra in July 2019.

I was the recipient of IIT's Excellence in Teaching Award for the College of Science in April 2018.

The Center for Interdisciplinary Scientific Computation (CISC) awarded the 2018 seed grant to Lulu Kang (applied math), Mahima Saxena (psychology), and me.

I taught two short courses in summer schools in 2018.

I was the recipient of the IIT College of Science teaching excellence award in December 2017.

In 2016, AMS sponsored a Mathematics research community on algebraic statistics. It is a one-week summer program for graduate students and postdocs/early-career faculty within 2-3 years of their PhD. I lead the Network Models Working group; this is us in Snowbird: MRC NMWG

I was the recipient of the IIT College of Science Junior Research Excellence Award in December 2015.

As of 2015, I am an Elected Member of the ISI.

IIT hosted and sponsored Journal of Algebraic Statistics from 2015 until end of 2019.

IIT is now an AWM member.

My PhD student Dane Wilburne spent summer 2015 visiting ISM in Tokyo under the NSF-EAPSI program. He has also received a SIAM Student Travel Award to attend the SIAM Conference on Applied Algebraic Geometry AG17 at Georgia Tech, summer 2017.

AWM interview, July 2014.

IIT hosted a conference on algebraic statistics May 19-22, 2014.

Read about undergraduate research at IIT.

Information about the DARPA GRAPHS program - my contributions are under Penn State and IIT entries.

I joined IIT faculty in 2013 where I am currently an Associate Professor in the Applied Mathematics Department, College of Computing. I am a member of the statistics, discrete math, and computational math research groups.

I co-organize the international Algebraic Statistics Online Seminar, the department's Nonlinear algebra and statistics (NLASTATS) seminar, lead the NLASTATS research group, and am a Managing Editor of Algebraic Statistics. In 2015 I became an Elected Member of the International Statistical Institute (ISI), received the College of Science Dean’s Junior Research Excellence Award, and in 2018 the College of Science Excellence in Teaching Award. My research has been supported by the NSF, AFOSR, and DARPA.

Brief bio

Academic appointments

  • (2017-) Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Mathematics at IIT
  • (2013-2017) Assistant Professor in the Department of Applied Mathematics at IIT
  • (2011-2013) Assistant Professor in the Department of Statistics at Penn State.
  • (2008-2011) Research Assistant Professor (post-doc) at UIC.
  • 2008 PhD, Mathematics, University of Kentucky, under the direction of Uwe Nagel.

Visiting positions

Research interests

  • Mathematical statistics and algebraic statistics
  • Random graph (network) models
  • Computational algebraic statistics
  • Randomization in computational algebra
  • Combinatorial and algebraic methods in statistics and data science
  • Algebraic methods phylogenetics (computational biology).
Visit my research group page.

[Full CV available upon request.]

Professional membership

  • International Statistics Institute (ISI Elected Member since 2015)
  • American Statistical Association (ASA) and the Chicago chapter.
    --> IIT students: check out the local ASA student chapter!
  • Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) and the Activity Group on Algebraic Geometry (SI(AG)^2).
    --> IIT students: check out the local SIAM student chapter.
  • American Mathematical Society (AMS)
  • Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM).
    --> IIT students: check out the local AWM student chapter.


I am an alumni mentor for the University of Kentucky Graduate Scholars in Mathematics Program.

Selected (local) algebraic statistics activities

  • This algebraic statistics community homepage has several important recent announcements.
  • *NEW* Nonlinear algebra and statistics (NLASTATS) seminar starts Fall 2019! Find upcoming and past talks here.
  • *NEW* Since 2020, I am a Managing Editor of Algebraic Statistics, the new community-run journal in the field with MSC-2020 code 62R01!
  • Fall 2013 - Fall 2018, the Algebraic Statistics seminar took place weekly at IIT. As of 2016, events are announced on the Department Events page; previous semesters can be found here: Algebraic Statistics seminar pages.
  • Many conferences include special sessions on Algebraic statistics. For example, the 2016 Joint Statistics Meetings hosted an IMS-sponsored Topic-Contributed Paper Session: Algebraic and geometric methods in inference - two decades of algebraic statistics, in July 2016 in Chicago. The 2015 AMS Fall Central Section Meeting also held a special session on algebraic statistics.
  • In May 2014, IIT hosted the 2014 Algebraic Statistics conference, which continues the tradition of biennial algebraic statistics meetings in the US. The previous such meeting took place in June 2012, hosted by Penn State. The Algebraic Statistics in the Alleghenies conference was supported by the NSF, Packard Foundation, the Eberly College of Science, and the Mathematics and Statistics Departments at Penn State.
  • In winter 2011/2012, I was named a co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Algebraic Statistics. IIT Library took over hotsing the journal in 2015. The journal was discontinued after we published the volume in memory of Stephen E. Fienberg in 2019.
  • Read more about my research interests on the "Research summary" page.
Algebraic statisics is a relatively young research area, attracting many researchers from both statistics and mathematics communities. The SIAM activity group in algebraic geometry has many members interested in algebraic statistics. The bieninal SIAG meeting usually features multiple minisymposia in the field. National and regional AMS meetings, as well as recent and upcoming national and international IMS and JSM meetings, include special sessions on the topics of theoretical and applied algebraic statistics. In 2014, there was also an algebraic session organized at Computational Statistics meeting COMPSTAT, and in 2015 a special session at the ISI World Statistics Congress. 2014 has been a very busy year for algebraic statistics conferences: Kyoto in January, Chicago in May, NIMS in Korea in July, Prague in August.
The field continues to be visibly active, with dedicated conferences every (other) year: as2012 at Penn State, as2014 at IIT, as2015 in Genova, Italy.

Note to students

If you are interested in research in algebraic statistics, and/or relations to discrete applied math and combinatorics, please take part in the algebraic statistics seminar, and feel free to stop by for a chat after you have explored my research interests a bit.
The Spring 2013 page for the algebraic statisitcs reading seminar I organized at Penn State offers some reading material and introductory references.

And here is a cartoon containing excellent general grad school advice!

Not at IIT? Consider applying for our PhD program and joining us here in Chicago. View the department poster highlighing our main research areas.

How to choose your grad school? That's a tough one to answer on a website. Here are some of my thoughts about the graduate school experience: UK Math Alumni Spotlight page.