Department of Statistics 125th Points of Pride

Snedecor Introduces Statistical Methodology to Generations of Researchers
The first step in the growth of statistics at Iowa State came when George Snedecor joined the faculty of the Department of Mathematics in 1913 and began teaching courses with statistical content the next year. The courses were of great interest to graduate students and researchers in agriculture, as Snedecor’s courses emphasized the importance of careful experimental design and the application of statistical methods. For two decades Snedecor consulted with CALS scientists. In 1924, Henry A. Wallace, one of Iowa State’s most distinguished alumni, returned to campus to demonstrate rapid machine calculation methods he developed in his work on the genetic improvement of plant breeding. Snedecor and Wallace conducted a series of 10 weekly statistics conferences. The meetings helped establish the Statistical Laboratory, which Snedecor directed from 1933 to 1947. His book, Statistical Methods, introduced several generations of statisticians and researchers to the subject.

Experiment Station Forms Statistical Section
Established in 1933, the Statistical Laboratory at Iowa State was the first research and consulting institute of its kind in the nation. The laboratory brought together persons trained in statistical theory and its applications to work as a single organized group, applying statistical methods to biological and agricultural research. In 1935, the Experiment Station formed a Statistical Section, later the Department of Statistics, to support the relationship between statistical methods and agricultural research.

Nettleton Uses Statistical Methods to Solve Scientific Problems
Dan Nettleton, a national leader in statistical genomics, has developed statistical methodologies for gene expression research used by plant and animal science researchers. Transforming biological questions into statistical questions, Nettleton has worked on scientific investigations including corn vigor, soybean pathogens, feed intake in swine, salmonella resistance in chickens and crops for bioenergy. Nettleton is associate professor of statistics at Iowa State and the Laurence H. Baker Endowed Chair in Biological Statistics.