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This year's two Rick White Award winners

Congratulations to this year’s two Rick White Award winners, Shuxian Fan and Austin Kwong.

Austin Kwong recently graduated with distinction in May 2020 with a B.Sc. in Computer Science and Statistics.

Shuxian Fan will be graduating in November 2020 with an M.Sc. in Statistics. Prior to her M.Sc. studies, Shuxian earned her B.Sc. with distinction in Statistics at UBC.

More about this year’s award recipients

Austin Kwong

Austin has a lot of experience in analyzing data and communicating the results, making good use of the skills he acquired in his coursework as a combined major in Computer Science and Statistics and in the workplace in the Computer Science Cooperative Education program.

He has collaborated with a Bay Area tech-startup, NEX Team, to develop effective visualization dashboards to explore and represent consumer demographics to make informative business decisions. He has also participated in two important challenges, Deloitte ThinkTech (achieving second place at the final UBC competition), and the VANquish Collisions Hackathon (achieving top 5 among 28 teams).

As a STAT 450 Case Studies student, Austin demonstrated an extraordinary ability to solve real-life problems via his work with a researcher to study the effectiveness of nasal splints in the recovery of patients who have undergone endoscopic nasal septal reconstruction surgery. He was the perfect statistical consultant, exploring and analyzing a complex, messy dataset and producing helpful and clear summaries, plots, and analyses of the data for the client.

Austin is currently continuing his work at NEX Team and aspires to further his academic journey in applied statistics.

Shuxian Fan

Shuxian has been an outstanding collaborating statistician, both as a consultant in her work with the Department’s Applied Statistics and Data Science Group (ASDa) and as a valued research partner of FPInnovations, a forest products research organization.

As a consultant, Shuxian assisted over a dozen graduate-student clients in planning their data analyses.

With FPInnovations, Shuxian started as a research partner when she was an undergraduate and studied, among other things, the effects over time of stresses on lumber due to dead- and live-loadings—for example, that of snow on the roof of a building. She quickly developed research partnerships with FPInnovation’s structural engineers and wood scientists by developing a solid understanding of engineering building codes and reliability-based structural design and load issues.

In her M.Sc. work with Jim Zidek (Statistics emeritus professor), Samuel Wong (UBC Statistics alumnus and current Assistant Professor in Statistics and Actuarial Science at the University of Waterloo), and FPInnovations technical staff, Shuxian has been involved in the planning, management, and execution of laboratory testing to provide the data needed to build as well as test a model that predicts the breaking strength of lumber. Her work is being assessed as a possible foundation for an innovative new system for the machine grading of lumber to replace the one that has been in use since the 1970s.

About the Rick White Award

The Rick White Award recognizes students who demonstrate excellence in statistical science through collaboration with investigators in another discipline on a substantial application. The award honours the memory of Rick White, who served the department and the university with his gifts in Applied Statistics.

To learn more about or to support the Rick White Memorial Fund, see Rick White’s In Memoriam page.

September 22, 2020