KAUST 2023 Workshop on Statistics showcases cutting-edge research and real-world applications

By David Murphy

Many disciplines, including health, the environment and climate, rely heavily on statistics and data science. From measuring human lifespans to the impact of distributed solar photovoltaics on electrical grid operations, data science and statistics significantly affect a wide range of fields.

The recent KAUST 2023 Workshop on Statistics offered a glimpse into how the latest statistical research is being used to address real-world data challenges. Held from November 6-9, 2023, the event was organized by the KAUST Statistics Program. It served as a platform for international and in-Kingdom scholars to establish connections that will continue to influence the future of statistics.

Throughout the event, discussions focused on statistics' progressive role in advancing environmental analysis, forecasting extreme climatic events, optimizing renewable energy production and conducting public health investigations.

“It was a privilege to welcome researchers from around the world to KAUST, to explore, exchange and enrich our collective knowledge of statistics and data science,” said event co-organizer Professor Paula Moraga. “The presenters showcased cutting-edge methodological advances encompassing Bayesian spatial modeling, causal inference, functional data analysis, fusion learning, Gaussian processes, neural networks, spatial point processes and spatial extremes.” 

As part of the panel session organized by the KAUST American Statistical Association (ASA) Student Chapter (the first established outside the United States), participants had the opportunity to interact with prominent statisticians and gain valuable insight into the essential skills required for their future careers.

According to Moraga, attendees left the workshop not only inspired but also equipped with new tools and perspectives and a want to contribute to shaping a better future: “We all had a productive and enjoyable workshop featuring groundbreaking discoveries and insightful discussions on cutting-edge methodologies with practical applications in diverse fields.

“These discussions provide valuable insights for decision-making processes and contribute to creating a better future for all. Overall, the workshop highlighted the importance of statistics and data science in advancing the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and achieving a better and more sustainable world.”