Date of this Version
The CSRS review team applauds the statistical expertise of the Biometry Department which began as the statistical Laboratory in 1957 and culminated with the current academic Department of Biometry. This enhancement has been highlighted by a significant increase in the number of faculty and staff, the initiation of a Master of Science program, and the provision of graduate assistant stipends. With the presence of seven faculty, the imminent increase from seven to fifteen graduate students, the establishment of statistical consulting with numerous IANR faculty, and the diverse research and teaching expertise of the faculty, the department is poised to provide greater service to the University. Future goals may include: (1) establishment of a statistical department worthy of national recognition by joining the faculties of the Department of Biometry and the Division of statistics from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and (2) the formation of a PhD program in Statistics that encompasses biometry and theoretical statistics.
It is apparent that the faculty is capable of conducting statistical research of a more theoretical nature. However, securing research grants as principal investigators or as co-investigators with other UNL faculty is required to fully support those research endeavors. With successful grant activity a greater portion of research results should be published in statistical journals.
Based on discussions, consultations on experimental design and data analysis are appropriate and much appreciated by IANR faculty. While personal consultations have been highly beneficial, the initiation of a "Help Desk" provides rapid and accurate response to straightforward statistical questions; thereby relieving the Biometry faculty for personal ·consultation on more complex statistical issues. The help desk provides valuable and "real world" training for graduate students.
Courses taught as a service to undergraduate and graduate IANR students appear to be appropriate in number and content. With a master's program successfully started, more formal policies for recruitment, selection, advising, and placement should be initiated. Further attention is required to provide space, computers, and advisers for graduate students.
Faculty expressed an appreciation for the strong support provided to Biometry by the administration from the Head, Deans, and Vice Chancellor. The team however, notes several management concerns including: the lack of faculty meetings; inadequate communications among Head, faculty, and graduate students; the need for continual curriculum improvement; and the lack of sufficient office and laboratory space. Concern is also raised about the potential over-commitment to international consulting at the expense of performing departmental functions.
The team is reluctant to recommend the immediate initiation of a PhD program in the Biometry Department. Establishment of a successful master's program before pursuing the doctoral program appears prudent. The merger of the two UNL statistical groups into one department would position UNL for a strong PhD program.