University announces addition of new dept.
John Tierney | Monday, March 22, 2010
The Academic Council approved the College of Science’s proposal to create the Department of Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics (DACMS) in its meeting Thursday.
The new department will begin its programs for undergraduate and graduate students in the Fall 2010 semester, according to Gregory Crawford, dean of the College of Science.
Crawford said the new department will work closely with the existing Department of Mathematics and with other departments across campus.
“Statistics is so important in all disciplines,” he said.
The new department was created in part to enhance the emphasis on statistics at the University, Crawford said.
“We were trying to figure out how to get more statistics at Notre Dame,” he said. “If you look at [the U.S. News and World Report rankings of universities for undergraduate education], 15 of the top 20 schools have at least one statistics department. We had to do something.”
Although the new department will be the first to concentrate entirely on applied mathematics and statistics at the University, it will not bring an entirely new field of study to Notre Dame.
“Applied mathematicians at Notre Dame already do a lot of statistics and computational modeling,” Crawford said. “By creating a statistics department, we’re expanding on the applied mathematics and computation already going on.”
Creating DACMS will not significantly affect the existing Department of Mathematics, Crawford said.
“Both departments will be very well resourced,” he said.
According to Crawford, the new department will have an interdisciplinary research and teaching focus.
“Since statistics is so important in all disciplines, as the department starts to grow, the new department will cooperate with other departments,” he said.
He cited offering statistics courses that are geared to social science, engineering and biology majors as areas in which the new department will affect undergraduates in other disciplines.
Crawford said he expects DACMS to remain a relatively small department but said it will have a high number of faculty members who have joint or concurrent appointments in other departments.
The planned size of the new department is consistent with statistics departments at other universities, Crawford said.
“[Statistics departments] tend to be very collaborative and do more interdisciplinary work,” he said. “[DACMS] will work with other departments and colleges to hire jointly with them.”
Graduate students in the new department will have a unique role that is consistent will the department’s interdisciplinary mission. Instead of only serving as teaching assistants, graduate students will also serve as collaborative assistants (CAs).
CAs will be available to assist faculty members and graduate students from other departments and colleges with the statistical elements of their research.
“This will stimulate the cross-disciplinary research that’s going on at Notre Dame,” Crawford said. “It’s very exciting for [the College of] Science to offer this to the other colleges on campus.”
The new department will sponsor its own major in applied and computational mathematics and statistics. Students who graduate with an undergraduate degree from DACMS will have graduate school options in diverse fields, including economics, sociology, psychology, engineering and science, Crawford said.
Alumni of the program will also have options in the private sector.
“It’s a very applied degree, so industry is looking for applied mathematicians and statisticians, as are hospitals,” Crawford said. “Most companies are looking for people with computational savvy.”
Crawford said creating the new department does not affect the College of Science’s commitment to the Department of Mathematics.
“The investment is going into the new department and the existing mathematics department,” he said. “It’s very important that both departments grow together.
“We have an excellent mathematics department here.”