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Statistics welcomes new department chair

January 26, 2011
by Kelly Geary

Jean Opsomer, an expert in survey statistics and the new chair of the Department of Statistics, is looking forward to more collaborations across campus for researchers in the department.

Enthusiastic department

Opsomer began working in the statistics department in 2007 after coming to Fort Collins from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.

“This is my first time working as a department chair,” Opsomer says. “However, I have a business background that I think will help me be successful in this position. Our department is small, but everyone is enthusiastic and we are a young, dynamic group. I look forward to doing some exciting things.”

Consulting with government agencies

After coming to the United States from Belgium in 1986, Opsomer received his MBA from University of Chicago, followed a few years later by a doctoral from Cornell University. His research focuses on survey statistics, and he has worked with a variety of government agencies to design and evaluate surveys.

He currently works as a statistical consultant with the National Marine Fisheries Service to redesign their coastal recreational surveys, and with the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Science Foundation on the redesign of the National Survey of College Graduates.

“You not only do statistics, but you also get to see how it applies,” he says.

Opsomer’s goals for the department include launching a master’s program in Applied Statistics and starting a Center for Environmental Statistics.

Comfortable in Fort Collins community

Opsomer’s wife, Mary Meyer, also is a statistics faculty member. Before coming to Fort Collins, the couple was looking for a school where they could both work and a community where they could feel comfortable. He and Meyer moved into a house close to campus that they have renovated, and they enjoy everything the community has to offer.

“Fort Collins is great. We really like it here,” Opsomer says. “It’s such a livable city. We are staying here both because we have to – given the amount of money we sank in the renovation of our house – and because we want to.”

Opsomer and Meyer enjoy yoga and tandem biking on the weekends. Both are vegetarians and appreciate Fort Collins’ wide restaurant selection. They raise chickens in their backyard and are thinking of adding a beehive and a bat house.

Statistics a good place for collaboration

Although he is very enthusiastic about his field and his new position, Opsomer knows there will be plenty of challenges.

“We’re trying to get the department to thrive and grow while the University is dealing with continued budget challenges,” he says. “We have to show that what we do is important. The College and the dean are very supportive.”

Opsomer believes that statistics is in a good place because of its ability to collaborate with other disciplines. The versatility of statistics is one of the things he enjoys about his field.

“You get to play in everyone else’s backyard,” he says. “You have to have a head for math, but you get to use it in a different way than in other mathematical disciplines.”

About the Department of Statistics

Founded in 1970, the Colorado State University Department of Statistics seeks to devise and develop statistical theories and techniques and to disseminate statistical knowledge through teaching, advising, and outreach programs to serve the needs of the University and local, state, and national bodies in research, government, business, and industry.

Through teaching, research, and collaboration, the CSU Department of Statistics supports the overall mission of the University and the College of Natural Sciences.

Contact: Emily Wilmsen
Phone: (970) 491-2336