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Annette and Henry Baich Award Winner fy2012

Announcing the 2011-12 Annette and Henry Baich Award Winner:

Andrew Neath for his project " Statistical Model Selection and the Theory of Social Choice"

The Annette and Henry Baich Award is given annually to the most outstanding STEP grant proposal for basic research conducted within the parameters of the Sigma Xi Society. Disciplines include such fields as the physical sciences, life and medical sciences, earth science, engineering, psychology or mathematics.

Dr. Neath is a Professor of Mathematics and Statistics in the SIUE College of Arts and Sciences. He received his Ph.D. in 1994 from the University of California Davis. His specialty is in the area of statistical model selection, and he is the author of 36 research publications. He has also served as the advisor of 27 Masters thesis papers and 21 senior project papers. His S.T.E.P. proposal titled "Statistical Model Selection and the Theory of Social Choice," stood out among the 55 applications submitted to the program.

A fundamental problem in science is the selection of a model, or theory, which is compatible with observed data. Dr. Neath's proposed project seeks to create a method for determining models that can accurately describe experimental data, or more specifically, "describe the underlying truth behind an experimental result". The information available from observed data provides but a glimpse at the underlying truth. Dr. Neath proposes that the data be used to simulate repeated scenarios, each one representing some possibility for the truth. In this light, model selection becomes a problem of summarizing model compatibilities as on overall judgment. Social choice theory, or voting theory, addresses the problem of finding good procedures for turning individual preferences into an overall group preference, as is done in an election. This connection between model selection and social choice theory will allow Dr. Neath to develop a new aspect to the model selection problem.

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