Dr. Montserrat “Montse” Fuentes has been named head of the Department of Statistics at NC State University, effective July 1. She replaces Sastry Pantula, who vacated the headship to serve as director of the National Science Foundation’s Division of Mathematical Sciences in the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate. Peter Bloomfield has served as interim head since last May.
Fuentes received her B.S. in mathematics and music from the University of Valladolid in Spain, and her Ph.D. in statistics from the University of Chicago. She spent six months as a postdoc in the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) before joining NC State in 1999 as an assistant professor. In 2003, she was appointed to associate professor with tenure and, in 2008, she achieved the rank of full professor.
Fuentes’ work has led to the development of new statistical methods that she applies to air pollution, weather prediction, hurricane forecasting and environmental health risk assessment problems. This work has led to more than 60 scientific publications and more than 20 research grants, with total funding of more than $10 million.
Widely considered and utilized as an advisor and expert in her field, Fuentes currently serves on the Institute of Mathematical Science Council; as a scientific advisor to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Integrated Human Exposure Committee; and as the U.S. representative on the Board of Directors of the International Environmetrics Society. She also served as a member of the Biostatistical Methods and Research Design study section of the National Institutes of Health and a member of a committee of the National Research Council of the National Academies working on the impact of ozone on human mortality.
Fuentes was elected as a fellow of the American Statistical Association in 2008 for outstanding contributions to research in spatial statistics, for excellence in the development and application of statistical methodology in atmospheric sciences, air pollution and oceanography; and for service to the profession. She is the editor of the Journal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Statistics (JABES), of the American Statistical Association and the International Biometric Society.
In an email to faculty and staff in the department, Daniel Solomon, dean of the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences (PAMS) noted that, “Montse brings excellent academic credentials, a strong presence in the international statistics community and a proven commitment to a value that has been the hallmark of this department since its founding, namely that the impact of statistics will be greatest through its partnerships with other disciplines to confront the most pressing challenges of the day.”
NC State University has a long tradition of excellence in statistics, beginning with the founding of the Department of Experimental Statistics by Gertrude Cox in 1941. Faculty and students in the department have made countless contributions to the discipline and profession of statistics in the decades since. Notably, the department was the birthplace of SAS, which is today the largest privately owned software company in the world. NC State now ranks among the top 5 programs in the nation in competitive research and development funding in the mathematical and statistical sciences.