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Shixiao Zhang winner of the SSC 2020 Pierre Robillard Award

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Shixiao ZhangShixiao Zhang is this year’s winner of the Pierre Robillard Award of the Statistical Society of Canada (SSC) which recognizes the best PhD thesis in probability or statistics defended at a Canadian university in a given year. His thesis, entitled “Multiply Robust Empirical Likelihood Inference for Missing Data and Causal Inference Problems," was written while Shixiao was a doctoral student in the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science at University of Waterloo under the supervision of Dr. Peisong Han and Dr. Changbao Wu.

Currently, Shixiao is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington. He joined the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in July 2019 after the completion of his PhD studies at University of Waterloo.

His current research interests are broadly focused on missing data, causal inference and personalized medicine. During his PhD and postdoctoral studies, his main focus has been in applying important techniques such as empirical likelihood and calibration methods to improve estimation efficiency and robustness against possible model mis-specification. More recently, at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, he is working to develop individualized treatment rules (ITRs) using statistical learning techniques such as support vector machines. In particular, he is focused on finding the optimal treatment recommendation that maximizes the treatment benefit for various patients based on their individual characteristics.

Previously, Shixiao earned his BSc degree in Statistics and Mathematics from University of Hong Kong in January 2014 and an MA degree in Statistics from York University in July 2015.

About the award 

The criteria used in selecting the winner of the Pierre Robillard Award includes 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 Shixiao Zhang, for the thesis entitled “Multiply Robust Empirical Likelihood Inference for Missing Data and Causal Inference Problems.”

The award was announced on the SSC website on May 19, 2020. Dr. Shixiao Zhang will present his award winning address on June 3, 2020 through a virtual platform.

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