Daniel Mowrey's Gift Empowers Statistical Consulting at Iowa State University

Daniel Mowrey, a distinguished alumnus of Iowa State University, has left an enduring mark through his philanthropic gesture—the Daniel H. Mowrey Graduate Statistics Consulting Award. Established to recognize outstanding graduate students in the Department of Statistics, this award has proven instrumental in shaping the academic and professional journeys of its recipients.

In the realm of academia, the impact of generosity can often extend far beyond monetary value. For the past recipients of the Daniel H. Mowrey Graduate Statistics Consulting Award, this sentiment rings particularly true. Their stories of growth, recognition, and professional development underscore the profound significance of Mowrey's contribution. From sharpening problem-solving skills to fostering interdisciplinary collaborations, the award has served as a catalyst for excellence in statistical consulting and research.

As the statistical community at Iowa State University continues to thrive, the legacy of the Daniel H. Mowrey Graduate Statistics Consulting Award remains steadfast. Past recipients, now leaders in their respective fields, stand as testaments to the enduring impact of Mowrey's philanthropy. Their collective achievements serve as inspiration for future generations of statisticians, reinforcing the importance of mentorship, recognition, and support in academic pursuits.


Voices of Impact

Past recipients were asked to share their professional accomplishments and recognitions, experiences at Iowa State University, and the impact these experiences had on their careers. Below are their responses.

Kari Azevedo

Receiving the award was a significant moment in my career journey. Meeting Dan Mowrey himself was an honor, and I remember expressing my gratitude for being selected. The recognition not only validated my skills as a statistical consultant but also boosted my confidence in my abilities to contribute meaningfully to the field. During my time as a graduate assistant statistical consultant for the College of Human Sciences at Iowa State University, I found immense fulfillment in assisting individuals who sought guidance during my open hours. However, it wasn't until I received the award that I grasped the impact I was making on those I assisted. It was this realization that my efforts were valued and appreciated that drove me to further hone my skills and dedication to statistical consulting. Since graduating from Iowa State University, I have held various positions but have settled into the role of the director of the TRIO McNair Scholars Program at the University of Central Missouri, where I also teach statistics courses. In this capacity, I frequently engage with McNair Scholars, guiding them through statistical analyses and appropriate interpretations for their research projects. Witnessing their growth and understanding of the importance of statistical methodologies in their research, and the significance of utilizing statistics correctly, is immensely rewarding. It underscores the vital role that accurate data analysis plays in producing meaningful research outcomes. Furthermore, as we prepare these McNair Scholars to go on to earn research-based doctorates, it becomes evident that mastering statistical techniques is not only essential for their current projects but also lays the foundation for their future academic pursuits and contributions to their respective fields.

Marek Brabec

The award was a nice recognition of the statistical consulting work I did at ISU. My experience was very nice and stimulating source of motivation for further study. The environment was helpful and friendly and involved teachers, supervisors and colleague student statistical consultants. I learned many concrete statistical models, methods, but also practical skills and broader statistical philosophy useful for statistical consulting and working on collaborative projects as a Statistician. Since ISU, I have worked as a consulting Statistician, research Statistician, senior researcher at several institutions ranging from Czech Hydrometeorological Institute, National Institute of Public Health in Praha, and the Institute of Computer Science of the Czech Academy of Sciences. I could say that the consulting experience at ISU Statistics department started my career and initiated many of its features. 

William Christensen

I took a lot of pride in delivering professional and helpful consulting to my colleagues at the Colleges of Veterinary Medicine and Agriculture. This award was an honor and a way of feeling appreciated and recognized. My colleagues in the colleges we supported treated me with respect and helped me to learn about their exciting work. I felt enriched by learning about veterinary medicine and agriculture, and my ability (and enjoyment) associated with the process of gaining knowledge about completely new areas was increased. I learned that no research endeavor is simple, that asking questions and listening are more important than being quick with an answer, and that there is real pleasure in finding ways to let the data tell their story. I have been a professor of Statistics at BYU for 22 years, and a professor at SMU for 3 years before that. I have served as Chair and Associate Chair of the Dept of Statistics at BYU and have served ASA in a variety of roles, including (currently) the Chair of the ASA Section of Statistics and the Environment (ENVR). I am a Fellow of the ASA and a former winner of the ASA-ENVR Distinguished Achievement Award. My areas of collaborative research have been fruitful in large part because I learned early at Iowa State how to work with others and find appropriate statistical solutions to complex scientific problems.

Haoyan Hu

I worked as a statistical consultant for College of Business and College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, starting from my second year at Iowa State through graduation. I learned a lot about the foundation and application of statistics in varied research areas and collaborated with fellow researchers from different departments. Faculty members in the consulting group always provided a prompt support to help me comprehend research questions. I still remember how Dr. Dixon guided me through the translation of a vague idea in soil biology to a solid scientific question in statistics and, more importantly, the critical thinking expertise as a statistician. The experience as a statistical consultant motivated me to learn the great needs of statistics in multiple subjects and inspired my research interests in developing novel statistical models to fit the needs. My communication skill for conveying stats information to non-stats folks was also greatly enhanced. The Daniel H. Mowrey consulting award meant a lot to me. It made me realize the importance of statistical consulting in statistics and beyond. It also provided me confidence in continuous effort and investment towards the excellence of statistical consulting. The invaluable experience and recognition intrigued my interest and paved the way to my current position as a clinical statistician at Eli Lilly and Company, where I contribute through close collaboration with cross-functional team including biologist and clinicians.

Reid Landes

My assistantship was a post as a statistical consultant in the Ag Experiment Station (AES). Just being deemed statistically-sound enough to work in the AES was a privilege, at least in my opinion, so receiving the Dan Mowrey Consulting Award was particularly an honor! The vast majority of clients were from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. I got to work on interesting projects (that I still remember) from Agronomy; Animal Science; Horticulture; Plant Pathology, Entomology and Microbiology; Natural Resource Ecology and Management; and Food Science and Human Nutrition. Having a wide exposure like that helped me develop important soft skills, like getting to the heart of the matter quickly, breaking both biological and statistical jargon down into easier terms, and building a wealth of examples that I use when working with people today. Before Iowa State, I worked as a masters-level biostatistician for a couple of years at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). I returned to UAMS after finishing at Iowa State and am now a professor in the Biostatistics Department. UAMS allowed me to take a 2-year leave of absence to collaborate on studies of atomic bomb survivors conducted at the Radiation Effects Research Foundation in Hiroshima, Japan. Most of my statistics work is collaborative in nature – it suits me, and I really like learning about all kinds of different things in the biomedical sciences.

Yilun Liu

I was thrilled to receive the Daniel H. Mowrey Graduate Statistics Consulting Award. It was an honor to receive an award that celebrates Dr. Mowrey’s lifelong commitment to consulting and mentorship. Dr. Dixon, Dr. Dutta and Dr. Niemi would hold weekly meetings to provide hands-on guidance and suggestions for any difficulty the consultants met in solving the problems. As a student consultant in the agriculture experiment station consulting group, it was enjoyable to have the cookies brought by Dr. Dixon while discussing the interesting cases. At the end of the weekly discussion, one interesting case always leads to more than one solution, like “Seven statistical consultants always have eight solutions”. This experience encourages me to think from different perspectives and listen to different ideas. As a student consultant in the agriculture experiment station consulting group, cases with agronomy and environment-related problems are always brought by the faculties and students. Encouraged by Dr. Dixon, attending the Conference on Applied Statistics in Agriculture and Natural Resources let me learn more about how statistical methods are applied in those specific areas. My experience as a statistical consultant strengthens my statistical knowledge in solving practical problems and trains my communication skills.

Dennis Lock

I started consulting my first year at Iowa State, when I probably wasn’t ready, but I had a fantastic mentor in Adam Pintar who guided me through the process early. Adam received the award my first year there, and I tried to follow in his footsteps from there... So, to receive the same award years later, indicating that I was anywhere near where Adam Pintar was when I first got there, is one of my favorite professional accomplishments. I learned more about how to apply statistics, from consulting than from my coursework or research. Essentially, I learned statistics from my course work, but I learned how to actually use statistics from consulting. This is also where I learned how to communicate statistics, especially to people who don’t have a strong statistical education. In my career, I built one of the first NFL “analytics” departments from scratch with the Miami Dolphins prior to coming to Buffalo and helping the Buffalo Bills win 4 straight AFC East titles (and counting!). I’m hoping to be in a Super Bowl one day but being in the coach’s booth communicating with the head coach during an AFC Championship game is also one of my favorite professional accomplishments. This goes back to what I learned from the experience, and the biggest thing was communication. When first interviewing 10 years ago and the early years in Miami, I was already able to communicate effectively with coaches who had never seen a statistical analysis because of this consulting experience. Without this ability and the experience actually using statistics, I likely would not have gotten my first opportunity in Miami or had the success that I had early in my career, which is what led to my current opportunity in Buffalo.

Thomas Loughin

As a young, early-career statistician, I was very grateful for the award and the resulting recognition that came with it. My experience was a little different from the typical grad student. I entered Iowa State with some consulting experience from 2 years with a biopharma consulting company. My assistantship was as a student consultant in for the Ag Experiment Station. I still had a lot to learn, but working with Paul Hinz and Dave Cox taught me a lot about how to think about new problems. After two years as a student consultant, I asked my mentors if I could take over “their” job a little bit by advising my student colleagues in the consulting office. They agreed, and by working with the other consultants I had an amazing chance to see a bigger variety of problems and learn to diagnose each one’s needs and explain the rationale to my colleagues. I am now a professor at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC, Canada, and served as the department’s Chair for 5 years. I ran a statistical consulting service for the Surrey Campus at SFU. I have co-authored around 150 papers, close to 2/3 of them collaborative papers in other disciplines. I have co-authored a textbook, Analysis of Categorical Data with R, which has a second edition forthcoming from CRC Press. I was on the Executive Committee of the ASA Section on Statistical Consulting; was Chair of the ASA Section on Statistics in the Physical and Engineering Sciences; was President of the Business and Industrial Statistics Section of the Statistical Society of Canada (SSC); and have served on the Accreditation Committees for both ASA and SSC. I became a Fellow of the American Statistical Association in 2008. All of the things I mentioned were impacted by my experience. I became a better statistician, with a better appreciation for the real uses of statistics, than I ever could have been without this experience.

Garritt Page

My experience as a statistical consultant at Iowa State was fundamental to my development as a competent statistician and so I was very honored to receive the Dan Mowrey award. I learned how to approach problem solving and formulate models that are able to answer specific scientific questions. Both of which are crucially connected to being able to identify the experimental/observational unit. The skills I was able to develop while working as a statistical consultant continue to serve me well in my current position. I am approached regularly by scientists on campus in a variety of fields and my ability to support them in their research is all due to what I learned working in the statistical consulting center. These collaborations have resulted in a number of publications in fields other than statistics, one of which earned the "outstanding research manuscript" award from the Journal of Athletic Training.

Michael Wallendorf

The award was an acknowledgement of my success as a consultant. During my consulting I regularly used methods learned in class. This reinforced my knowledge such that PhD prelim methods questions seemed like work I had done recently. I learned to trust my knowledge when applying methods. Though I have done some teaching, my main focus has been consulting. I worked five years in Fairbanks Alaska as a statistician with Alaska Fish and Game. Later, I moved to Columbia Missouri to work with Missouri Department of Conservation. Recently, I retired from Washington University in Saint Louis after working 12 years as a Research Statistician in the School of Medicine. Though I have done some teaching, my main focus has been consulting. The most challenging part of that work is communication with clients to get at what their questions are and develop analyses for those hypotheses. Those communication skills started as a consultant with ISU Statistics.


These voices of impact collectively underscore the profound significance of the Daniel H. Mowrey Graduate Statistics Consulting Award, which has supported more than 50 graduate student consultants over the years. Through their shared experiences, past recipients illuminate the transformative power of Mowrey's generosity, reaffirming the vital role of statistical consulting in academia and beyond.

The Daniel H. Mowrey Graduate Statistics Consulting Award continues to serve as inspiration for the statistical community at Iowa State University and beyond. Through his visionary philanthropy, Dan Mowrey has empowered students to realize their potential as statistical consultants, leaving an enduring legacy of excellence and impact.