Skip to main content

As a university, Penn State has a vigorous and extensive research enterprise. Faculty are awarded grants by government and private agencies to conduct research in the many academic disciplines within the university structure. Qualified undergraduates are invited to participate in the on-going research programs of Statistics faculty.  Most of these students are juniors and seniors. Participation in undergraduate research requires that an application be submitted and reviewed by the faculty member selected by the student.


Application Deadlines:

  • Spring 2020: Friday, November 30, 2019
  • Summer/Fall 2020: Friday, March 13, 2020
  • Spring 2021: TBA

All applicants will be notified during finals week.

    Procedure for applying:

    Step 1:  Review guidelines for arranging a research position.

    Step 2:  Review the faculty research interests and student selection criteria list.

    Step 3:  Select a faculty member or a project you would be most interested in working with/on
    , please indicate your preference on the application.

    Step 4:  Submit your application by the posted deadline.

    Dr. Dennis Pearl

    Research Professor, Director of CAUSE

    Status: Open

    Director of the Consortium for the Advancement of Undergraduate Statistics Education (CAUSE: see a national organization providing resources and professional development opportunities to instructors of college-level statistics.

    Statistics Education Project

    • Evaluation of the use of songs and cartoons and Shiny apps in teaching statistical concepts in on-online or face-to-face courses.  Student(s) would be involved in developing apps and field testing them in courses as well as in data management and data analysis of the results of education experiments at Penn State (Stat or Data Science majors only, with a working knowledge of R, multiple positions).

    Statistical Phylogenetics Projects

    • This project involves developing and applying new methods to incorporate non-molecular data to specify a prior for Bayesian molecular analyses that produce a distribution of possible evolutionary trees for a set of molecular sequence data.
    • Non-stationary models for estimating evolutionary relationships. In this project, students will develop and analyze a new test for the validity of the stationarity assumption in phylogenetics. They will also collaborate on and apply a new model of molecular evolution that allows for the amino acid distribution to vary with the level of site conservation.
    • Successful coursework in probability at the Stat/Math 414 level and strong abilities in R and general programming are required (Stat or Data Science majors only, summer and fall for course credit only, single position).


    Dr. Le Bao

    Associate Professor

    Status: Open

    Dr. Le Bao earned his Ph.D. from the Department of Statistics at the University of Washington, Seattle. He is an associate professor and the chair of the undergraduate research program at the department of statistics, the key technical advisor for the UNAIDS Reference Group, and the project leader for the Diagnostics Modeling Consortium. His research focuses on using statistical models to address global health problems such as disease mapping, people at high risk of infectious diseases, and systematic literature review.


    Dr. Andrew Wiesner

    Associate Teaching Professor

    Status: Open

    Statistical Uses and Applications in Sports

    Primary research areas of interest are Sports and Education.  Although projects are unfunded at this time, students have successfully researched their own personal topics of interest in these areas resulting in presentation or publication.  Academic requirements depend on the robustness of the research question(s).  Students who have what they believe is an interesting research idea should email me a brief statement that includes an overview of the research idea, hypotheses, possible data resources, statistics (or related) courses completed, programming languages with which they are familiar, GPA, and semester standing.


    Dr. Aleksandra Slavkovic

    Professor, Associate Dean for Graduate Education, Eberly College of Science

    Status: Open

    The greatest beauty and value of statistics stem from its role in collaborative cross-disciplinary research. Dr. Slavkovic’s primary research interest is in the area of data privacy and confidentiality, focusing on statistical disclosure limitation, statistical utility and their interplay with tools from computer sciences such as differential privacy, in the context of small and large scale surveys, health and genomic data, network data, and distributed data. Other related past and current research interests include evaluation methods for human performance in virtual environments, statistical data mining, application of statistics to social sciences, algebraic statistics, causal inference, and data fusion and record linkage. Slavkovic is a professor of Statistics, and Associate Dean for Graduate Education in Eberly College of Science at Penn State. She received her Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University in 2004. 

    Dr. Slavkovic ( and Dr. Reimherr ( currently run a statistical data privacy group in the department of statistics that includes postdocs, graduate and undergraduate students, discussing and developing tools and methods to support data usability and sharing, and validity of statistical modeling and inference, and thus the reproducibility, under constraints of data privacy.


    Xiaoyue Maggie Niu

    Associate Research Professor

    Status: Open

    I received my Ph.D. in statistics from the University of Washington. Prior to joining Penn State, I worked at IHME, a global health institute. My research interests include but are not limited to social networks and population size estimation, with applications in social sciences and global health. As the director of the Statistical Consulting Center at Penn State, I collaborate with a broad range of scientists. Over the years of consulting and collaboration, I have maintained a keen curiosity about science and genuinely appreciate the importance of cross-disciplinary research. My research goal is to produce practically meaningful results that solve real scientific questions.


    Prabhani Kuruppumullage Don

    Assistant Research Professor of Statistics, Assistant Director of Online Programs at Penn State.

    Status: Open

    Kuruppumullage Don received her Ph.D. in Statistics from Penn State University in 2014. She received her Masters in Statistics from Penn State in 2011, and a B.Sc. (First Class honors) in Statistics from University of Colombo in 2005.

    Her research interests include methods statistical computing, statistical genetics, and bioinformatics. Recently she has also started working on some collaborative projects on statistical education.

    Kuruppumullage Don joined Penn State as faculty in 2018 and has been serving as the Assistant Director of the Departmental Online Programs since then. Since 2019, she also serves as the the program director for the online Graduate Certificate in Applied Statistics and as a Biostatistician with Clinical and Translational Science Institute. Before joining Penn State, she served as an Assistant Professor of Statistics at University of Rhode Island (2016-2018) and as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (2014-2016). Since 2018 she serves as a reviewer for the American Journal of Distance Education.


    David Hunter

    Director of Online Programs

    Status: Closed

    David R. Hunter earned his Ph.D. in statistics from the University of Michigan in 1999, following a math degree from Princeton University in 1992 and two years teaching mathematics at a public high school in New Hampshire.  He has been at Penn State University since 1999, where he is professor of statistics and served as head of the Department of Statistics from 2012 to 2018. He is a fellow of the American Statistical Association.
    He has published widely on statistical models for networks and is a co-creator of the "statnet" suite of packages for network analysis in R.  He co-coined the term "MM algorithms" and has written extensively on this and other EM-like algorithms.  He has also extended the theory and computational practice of unsupervised clustering using nonparametric finite mixture models.    


    Bing Li
    Willaman Chair Professor in Statistics
    Status: Closed

    Daisy Philtron
    Assistant Research Professor
    Status: Closed

    Bharath K Sriperumbudur
    Assistant Professor
    Status: Closed

    Lingzhou Xue
    Associate Professor
    Status: Closed

    Qunhua Li
    Associate Professor
    Status: Closed

    Don Richards
    Status: NA

    Murali Haran
    Department Head
    Status: Closed