Wharton Dean Geoffrey Garrett has announced the appointment of professor of statistics Nancy Zhang as the vice dean of Wharton Doctoral Programs (WDP); it was effective July 1. In her new role, Dr. Zhang oversees the operations and management of the nine academic areas of WDP.
Among her many accomplishments since arriving at the University of Pennsylvania in 2011, Dr. Zhang served as doctoral program co-director for the Wharton statistics department from 2012-2017. She has been an important advisor and mentor for students in statistics, as well as in other departments, including genomics and computational biology; biostatistics, epidemiology and informatics; and applied mathematics and computational sciences.
“I’m very pleased that Nancy Zhang will join us as the doctoral programs’ leader. She represents the best of Wharton’s research capabilities while, through her highly collaborative approach, serving as a role model for students,” said Dean Garrett. “I am grateful to vice dean Cathy Schrand for her dedication to the doctoral program and look forward to continued success with Nancy Zhang.”
Dr. Zhang’s research focuses primarily on statistical and computational approaches for the analysis of genetic, genomic and transcriptomic data. In addition to her contributions in statistics, her methods have made contributions to genetics, tumor genomics and single-cell biology.
In the field of genomics, she has developed methods to improve the accuracy of copy number variant and structural variant detection, methods for improved false discovery rate control, and methods for analysis of single-cell RNA sequencing data. In the field of statistics, she has developed new models and methods for change-point analysis, variable selection, and model selection. Dr. Zhang has also made contributions in the area of tumor genomics, where she has developed analysis methods to improve understanding of intra-tumor clonal heterogeneity.
Dr. Zhang earned her undergraduate degree in mathematics, her master’s in computer science and her doctorate in statistics from Stanford. In 2011, she was the recipient of a prestigious Sloan Fellowship. Prior to arriving at Wharton, Dr. Zhang was an assistant professor of statistics at Stanford and a post-doctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley.
Dr. Zhang succeeds Cathy Schrand, who will return to the accounting department as the Celia Z. Moh Professor. Dr. Schrand will continue her role as faculty director of the Wharton Research and Scholars programs.
During her tenure, Dr. Schrand upgraded the writing and communications offerings for doctoral students and encouraged cross-disciplinary engagement among students. She updated the statistics sequence and expanded offerings for applied courses. Dr. Schrand also oversaw outstanding placements for WDP graduates, including faculty positions at the University of Chicago, MIT, Stanford and Yale.
Under Dr. Schrand’s leadership, WDP also advanced diversity initiatives and enrollments of diverse students at WDP increased significantly. At the same time, WDP’s program for undergraduates, Introduction to Diversity in Doctoral Education and Scholarship (IDDEAS), expanded to Stanford, Berkeley, the University of Chicago and Northwestern University.