About Our Department

Old Chemistry BldgThe growth in digital data sources and powerful computation has sparked a revolution in how scientists across all disciplines do research, how policy-makers and government consider evidence-based policy, and how industry looks to create value. The Department of Statistical Science is helping to lead this revolution through its research, teaching, and service.

Our Research

Established in 1987, our nationally-recognized department has been known as a leading center of statistical science, and as the premier center worldwide for research and education in Bayesian methods. Statistical Science at Duke helped advance and popularize the Bayesian statistical paradigm, which offers a prescriptive framework for using probabilistic models to make inferences about scientific and social phenomena. Nowadays, Bayesian methods are used in nearly every field of inquiry. In recent years, we have expanded our research and education portfolios in areas such as machine learning, optimization, data privacy, and causal inference. Looking forward, we will continue to be a center of intellectual leadership in Bayesian methods, and to continue to grow our reputation as a top-tier department at the forefront of research and education in statistical science more broadly.

Our faculty members are internationally recognized as intellectual leaders in statistical science and data science, having developed statistical theory and methods that are widely used across multiple disciplines. Statistical Science faculty and students are engaged in solving high profile interdisciplinary problems, collaborating with researchers at Duke and elsewhere in the health sciences, government, industry, natural science, public policy, social science, and nearly every other field of scientific inquiry.  

Teaching

Our faculty are responsible for new ways of teaching statistical and data science, many of which faculty members at other institutions bring into their classrooms. We bring this teaching innovations into our three degree programs: the Ph.D. in statistical science, the Master’s in statistical science, and the undergraduate major and minor in statistical science. Across all programs, we emphasize stochastic modeling, Bayesian methods, scientific computation, and interdisciplinary research. These programs provide the foundations for students interested careers in academia, industry, government, healthcare, and many other fields. We help our students engage in research projects, internships, and permanent positions across all sectors.

We also teach courses at the graduate and undergraduate level that introduce students to concepts and methods in statistical science. Here, we also strive to bring a modern view on statistics education, teaching students about the importance of reproducibility, simulation, probabilistic modeling, and the analysis of real-world problems.

Service

Statistical Science faculty members are leaders in the profession as journal editors, members of National Academy of Sciences committees and panels, officers of academic societies, organizers of conferences and research networks, and in leadership positions on founding, advisory, and governance boards of multiple institutes, centers and companies around the world. Our students also lead in service, leading activities on campus like Youth in Machine Learning

Our Roots

We were established in 1987 as a free-standing Duke institute — the Institute of Statistics and Decision Sciences (ISDS) – with a Ph.D. program only.  In 1990, ISDS became a unit of Arts & Sciences. In 2007, we established the undergraduate major and minor in statistical science, which corresponded with a name change to the Department of Statistical Science.  In 2014, we established the Masters’ program in statistical science. For more history on our department, please see the video from our 25th anniversary conference in 2012.