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Cornell Stats Consulting Unit to Move Under CIS, Stats Department

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In a move to align its research mission and organizational location, the Cornell Statistical Consulting Unit will shift under the Department of Statistics and Data Science within Cornell Computing and Information Science beginning July 1.

Providing statistics-related consulting and training to Cornell researchers for close to 30 years, the fee-for-service unit had been housed in the Division of Nutritional Sciences since it was first formed.

The move to the Department of Statistics and Data Science (SDS), which is housed within Computing and Information Science, makes practical sense, according to Director Françoise Vermeylen. Over the years, the unit evolved from serving only the Division of Nutritional Sciences to a university-wide service. CSCU’s five-person team of consultants and one data analyst works closely with SDS faculty to assist fellow Cornell scholars in strengthening their research by applying statistical methods. 

“I believe being incorporated with Statistics and Data Science will help us better fulfill our mission to support researchers while contributing to the department of Statistics and Data Science’s applied component, which proves useful for its educational mission,” said Vermeylen, who’s been at Cornell since 1989 and served as CSCU director since 2006. “It’s a win for everyone involved.”

CSCU, located in Academic Surge Building A off Tower Road, provides a host of consulting services and trainings to help Cornell researchers best utilize statistical methods. Designing experiments and surveys, reviewing method sections for manuscripts and proposals, selecting the most appropriate statistical analyses – these are just some of the areas CSCU has offered expertise.  Last year, the CSCU team had 3,600 one-on-one, individualized contacts with faculty, research staff and students, and offered more than 80 training sessions by way of workshops, multi-day short courses or guest lectures. In addition, CSCU staff also offers contract services, like performing statistical analysis for researchers who lack time or expertise. 

“The CSCU consultants have the best view of the campus statistical needs," said SDS Chair Martin Wells. "The new SDS-CSCU model will contribute to better communication and collaborations between CSCU consultants, SDS statistical researchers and practitioners on campus.”

Statistical consulting involves the careful and skillful application of the theory and method of statistics, said Martin Wells, chair and professor in the Department of Statistics and Data Science. 

“High-quality consulting benefits Cornell research by improving the quality of the statistical aspects of research: statistical design, modeling, analysis, and interpretation of results,” Wells said. “The CSCU consultants have the best view of the campus statistical needs. The new SDS-CSCU model will contribute to better communication and collaborations between CSCU consultants, SDS statistical researchers and practitioners on campus.”

CSCU will continue to receive its financial support from numerous Cornell colleges and departments, including Arts and Sciences, Human Ecology, Engineering, SC Johnson College of Business and the Veterinary College. 

"CSCU is an extremely valuable resource for the campus,” said Jon Kleinberg, interim dean of Computing and Information Science. “We are excited to have it as part of Statistics and Data Science within CIS, and to help as it continues to expand its consulting and research relationships."

Along with the move to a new home department, CSCU will expand its faculty advisory board to include stakeholders from participating university colleges and departments, Vermeylen said. SDS Chair Marty Wells and SDS Professor Jim Booth currently serve on the three-person board.

Louis DiPietro is the communications coordinator for the Department of Statistics and Data Science.