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Qi Xu headshot
Qi Xu

A new fellowship award to support a statistics graduate student is available through UC Irvine’s Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (ICS). The “UCI Statistics Fellowship Award for Methodology Research” was established in honor of Hal Stern, the former Dean of ICS. Stern was also the founding chair of the Department of Statistics, and he currently serves as UCI Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor.

“The great power of statistics and statisticians is in the ability to develop statistical methods that can help researchers address important science and policy issues,” says Stern. “This award recognizes a Ph.D. student who has contributed novel methodology in one or more application areas.”

On February 27, 2024, before a seminar given by a distinguished statistician Xihong Lin of Harvard University at the Calit2 Auditorium, the inaugural award recipient was announced. Stern honored fifth-year Ph.D. candidate Qi Xu, recognizing his innovative research into statistical learning, causal inference, and differential privacy, particularly as applied in precision medicine and mobile health.

Qi Xu holding an award next to Hal Stern. Behind them, the screen shows the upcoming talk by Xihong Lin on "Empower Whole Genome Sequencing Analysis"
Hal Stern presented Qi Xu (left) with the inaugural UCI Statistics Fellowship Award for Methodology Research in the Calit2 Auditorium, just before the distinguished seminar featuring Xihong Lin began.

“I am deeply honored and profoundly grateful to be the first recipient of this distinguished UCI Statistics Fellowship Award for Methodology Research, especially given that it honors our esteemed founding chair, Hal Stern,” says Xu. “This recognition not only highlights the importance of innovation and excellence in statistics methodology research, but also pays tribute to a visionary leader whose contributions continue to inspire young generation statisticians and shape our community.”

Xu is making his own contributions through his work to reduce the cost of developing learning algorithms and to help clinicians tailor treatments to individual patient profiles. “My crowdsourcing project improves the process through which observation outcomes are labeled to support the development of supervised learning algorithms, using a robust approach to infer the true labels given noisy and unreliable labels collected from a general (untrained) crowd,” he explains. “Another research line of mine aims to enhance decision-making in precision medicine, specifically finding the best combination therapy considering the complex interaction effects among different therapies.” Xu is also working to advance mobile health by facilitating the identification of new physiological patterns previously elusive in lab settings (his work has appeared in Sleep and Women’s Health journals).

“Xu has been remarkably productive during his Ph.D. studies at UCI, focusing on the development of novel statistical methodologies, theory and machine learning tools with applications in precision medicine, mobile health and bioinformatics,” says his advisor, Chancellor’s Professor Annie Qu. “He has emerged as an independent researcher and a deep thinker with a strong capability for independently developing original methodologies and theories in statistics and machine learning, working on important applications such as mobile health data and DNA methylation study for post-traumatic stress disorder.”

In August, Xu will be joining the Department of Statistics and Data Science at Carnegie Mellon University as a postdoc fellow working with Professor Kathyrn Roeder and Professor Jing Lei.

“His innovative statistical methods will make a substantial impact on the fields of statistics and science,” says Qu, noting that he stands out as one of her most accomplished Ph.D. students in recent years.

“Receiving this fellowship reinforces my commitment to advancing the frontiers of statistical methodology,” says Xu. “It is also an encouragement for me to continue striving for excellence and to contribute meaningfully to our discipline.”

The UCI Statistics Fellowship Award for Methodology Research is funded through contributions from generous supporters, including UCI alumni and ICS leadership council members. Students interested in this and other ICS fellowship opportunities can visit the Fellowships and Funding webpage. Supporters interested in contributing to the endowment for this fellowship can contact Krisit Coyer at

Shani Murray