Rice establishes cooperation with University of Florence to focus on statistics, data science

Rice Statistics professor Marina Vannucci, driver of the agreement, will serve as the initial program coordinator.


President David Leebron has signed an agreement to establish international cooperation between Rice University and the University of Florence, Italy, focusing on statistics and data science.

The arrangement is intended to enhance research and teaching collaborations by making possible the exchange of undergraduates, doctoral students, postdoctoral researchers and faculty between the Department of Statistics, Computer Science, Applications (DiSIA) at the University of Florence and the Department of Statistics at Rice.

“The program will enhance research and teaching in statistics and data science at both institutions. The agreement is in line with the George R. Brown School of Engineering’s strategic vision to increase the participation of Rice engineering students in study-abroad opportunities,” said Rudy Guerra, professor and chair of STAT at Rice.

Marina Vannucci, the Noah Harding Professor of STAT, has been the driver of the cooperation agreement and will serve as the initial program coordinator at Rice. Vannucci will travel to Florence this month to deliver a short-course to Ph.D. students and give a lecture on Bayesian variable selection at the Florence Center for Data Science.

The University of Florence is Vannucci’s alma mater, where she earned a laurea (the Italian equivalent of a bachelor’s degree) in mathematics and a Ph.D. in statistics, in 1992 and 1996, respectively.

Rice students pursuing a B.A. in STAT will be able to design plans of study that include a one- or two-semester period in Florence starting in their second semester as sophomores.

“Visiting exchanges for faculty members, researchers, doctoral students and postdocs,” Vannucci said, “are intended to promote seminars, courses, conferences, lectures, joint research projects and discussions of common interest. The length of the visiting periods will depend on the activities planned during the visits.”



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