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Data Science Emphasis Publishes in The American Statistician

Mintaek Lee, Computing Ph.D. student in the Data Science emphasis, was encouraged by his advisor Jaechoul Lee to turn his master’s thesis into an academic publication. Fast forward three years and his paper was published in an issue of The American Statistician in August 2020.

Mintaek Lee summarized their work, “Our paper studies two important aspects of extreme snowfall events: 1. trends in annual maxima and threshold exceedances and 2. return levels for extreme snowfall. Applying extreme value methods to the extreme snow data in the New York City area, we quantify linear trends in extreme snowfall and assess how severe the 2016 blizzard is in terms of return levels.

Our results show increasing, but insignificant trends in the annual maximum snowfall series. However, we find that the 87.5th percentile snowfall has significantly increased by 0.564 inches per decade, suggesting that, while the maximum snowfall is not significantly increasing, there have been increases in the snowfall among the larger storms. We also find that the 2016 blizzard is indeed an extreme snow event equivalent to about a 40-year return level in the New York City area.”

In January 2018, nearly 6 months after submission, Mintaek Lee and Jaechoul Lee received an initial decision from the committee at The American Statistician; a rejection with encouragement to revise and resubmit. “We submitted our revised manuscript in July 2018, and received a decision ‘tentative acceptance subject to a satisfactory revision’ in October 2018. We submitted our final revision in December 2018.” Although quite time consuming, and 3 years after Mintaek Lee’s master’s thesis proposal that started it all, their article was finally accepted for publication in February 2019.

“Our paper thoroughly illustrates useful statistical methods based on extreme value theory for quantifying trends and return levels in the extreme data that are common in a broad range of practices, including climatology, hydrology, and econometrics. Given the increasing interest in applying extreme value methods among practitioners in various fields, we believe that our paper will aid them in studying extreme characteristics of data using extreme value theory and methods.” Mintaek Lee reflected on the experience, “This gave me valuable experience in the academic writing and publication process as well as addressing a practical problem in climatology using modern statistical methods. I think these experiences can be beneficial in both industry and academia alike.”