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Lisa Ganio sitting in front of bookshelf

New leader in statistics explores intersection of natural resources and quantitative science

By Debbie Farris
Lisa Ganio, Head of the Department of Statistics

The College of Science welcomes Lisa Ganio as the new Department of Statistics Head effective December 1, 2018. Ganio is a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society within the College of Forestry at OSU.

Ganio also serves as director of her department’s graduate program, associate director for the Forestry Computing Resources and director of the College of Forestry’s Statistical Consulting program, which she has led for 20 years. She is also an adjunct professor of statistics.

Ginny Lesser, current head of the department of statistics, announced this summer that she would step down from her post, which she has held since 2011. She will return to her teaching and research responsibilities and continue in her role as Director of the Survey Research Center.

“I want to thank Ginny for her excellent leadership as Statistics Department Head,” said Roy Haggerty, dean of the College of Science. “Ginny grew the department to its largest size since 1977, hiring six new faculty, and increased its diversity.” The statistics department is 45% women and 45% Asian with two Hispanics.

A few of Lesser’s notable accomplishments include growing enrollment and revenue in all online statistics courses, doubling the number of funded graduate students from 21 to 41 and graduating twice as many master’s and Ph.D. students. Under her leadership, the department made significant improvements to its Statistics 201 course that decreased D/F/W rates by more than 60% and launched the College’s first online degree: a master’s degree in data analytics as well as a graduate certificate.

“I would also like to thank the search committee and the committee chair, Bill Bogley, for running a smooth search and for their dedication to filling this important leadership position,” said Haggerty.

“I look forward to Lisa join the College of Science. She brings deep expertise in the application of statistics to applied problems and has a clear vision for the department that’s well aligned with the college and university strategic plans,” said Haggerty. “Her experience with graduate programs and research will be useful additions to our excellent Department of Statistics.”

Ganio brings more than 25 years of experience as an educator and as a consulting statistician. She has collaborated with academic researchers as well as worked with private, state, non-profit and federal natural resource management agencies as well as. With deep expertise in the application of statistics to applied problems, Ganio’s work emphasizes appropriate use of research design and technical quantitative tools applied to pressing ecological questions. Specifically, her areas of interest involve the interaction of natural resources research and quantitative science and statistics; critical thinking, study design and scientific inference in research; and statistical consulting and methods for multi-scaled temporal and spatial natural resources data.

Prior to her academic appointment at OSU, Ganio worked as a Senior Scientist for Mantech Environment at the Environmental Protection Agency Research Lab in Corvallis where she a provided research design and analysis.

Ganio is an exceptional scholar and teacher. Her experience in the College of Forestry’s graduate programs and research will be instrumental in building on existing research projects in the department of statistics. She received the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Advising, Mentoring and Instruction in the College of Forestry in 2003 and 2008. Ganio has demonstrated a strong, long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion and views it as crucial to the success not only of colleges but also of the university.

She received her bachelor’s degree in botany and zoology at Humboldt State University in California and both her MS and Ph.D. in statistics from Oregon State.


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