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Statistics department to host free public lecture Sept. 21

Penn State statistician Francesca Chiaromonte will explore the application of novel statistical techniques to biomedical data
14 September 2023
Francesca Chiaromonte for the Ombuds website.

The Penn State Department of Statistics will host a free public lecture presented by Francesca Chiaromonte, professor of statistics and Dorothy Foehr Huck and J. Lloyd Huck Chair in Statistics for the Life Sciences at Penn State. The lecture, titled “What can shapes teach us? Leveraging functional data in biomedical applications,” will be held from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 21 in 102 Thomas Building on the Penn State University Park campus.

In her talk, Chiaromonte will introduce a class of statistical methods called “functional data analysis” and discuss how it can be used to support biomedical research. These methods are used to analyze data that can be represented as curves, such as children’s growth over time. Chiaromonte will provide examples of how she and her collaborators have applied functional data analysis, including to analyze data regarding childhood obesity and the spread of COVID-19 in Italy.

In her research, Chiaromonte explores methods to analyze high-dimensional, complex, structured and potentially under-sampled data. These methods include dimension reduction, feature selection and feature screening algorithms, computational assessment of significance and stability, latent structure and Markov modeling, and functional data analysis. Chiaromonte works closely with scientists in a variety of fields, including the biomedical sciences, meteorology, and economics. For example, in the early 2000s, Chiaromonte contributed to the work of several genome consortia, developing methods to compare and align genome sequences, estimate how much of the human genome is being conserved through selection, and predict which parts of the genome are functional.

Chiaromonte joined the Penn State Department of Statistics as an assistant professor in 1998 and soon became involved with the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences as one of the founding members of the Center for Comparative Genomics and Bioinformatics—a precursor to the current Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics—and the Center for Medical Genomics and as director of the Institute for Genome Sciences. Additionally, she actively maintains multiple international collaborations, including work with the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa, Italy, where she serves as the scientific coordinator of the Department of Excellence for Economics and Management in the era of Data Science. 

Chiaromonte is a Fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (IMS) and of the American Statistical Association. She received a master’s degree in statistic and economic sciences from the University of Rome La Sapienza in Italy and a doctorate in statistics from the University of Minnesota.

For more information about the lectures or for access assistance, contact Terra Deyo at or 814-865-4334.