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Mathematician Awarded the Faculty of Science's Research Award 2017


Rebecka Jörnsten from the Department of Mathematical Sciences is awarded The Faculty of Science’s Research Award 2017. Jörnsten’s research focuses on basic statistical theory and method and she collaborates closely with physicians and biologists.

Rebecka Jörnsten is a biostatistician. Her research centers on the developmentRebecka Jörnsten of statistical models for big data.
- It's about how such models are estimated, validated, compared, as well as visualized and interpreted, says Jörnsten.

Working with cancer research

Together with researchers at Uppsala University, Rebecka and her group derive network models to summarize genomic variations between different types of cancer. The goal with this research is to identify biomarkers that can predict an individual’s response to different treatment regimes.

Modeling has a very rich structure and can be very complicated.
- Large-scale modeling of big data is a great challenge in many areas of research. In my scientific work I utilize methods from different fields and disciplines, e.g. robust statistics, machine learning and information theory, and integrate them in a new way to develop interpretable, scalable and stable models for complex data structures. Cross-disciplinary research often leads to new statistical methods that are generally applicable.

“It’s good that this kind of work is recognized”

Jörnsten is thrilled about having received the Faculty of Science’s Research Prize.
- It feels great! The department of Mathematical Sciences is a strong research environment. We employ many statisticians and applied mathematicians who work with big data and challenging data analysis problems, and it’s good that this kind of work is recognized. I hope more students see that statistics and mathematics can be exciting, can center on important problems in e.g. environment and health and that this increases interest in our undergraduate and graduate programs. Good data scientists and statisticians are needed in both industry and academia – large-scale and big data modeling are challenges that are here to stay.

The Faculty of Science explains the decision to award Jörnsten the Research Award 2017 as follows:

Rebecka Jörnsten is a biostatistician who works across the entire field from basic statistical theory and method development to applications in close collaboration with medical scientists and biologists. She deserves much of the credit for introducing the new big data paradigm in the previously more traditionally-oriented mathematical statistics environment in Gothenburg. In this way she has had a crucial vitalizing effect on this research environment. She has made significant contributions to the theory of large scale modeling, dimensional reduction, variable selection and network methodology, as well as to applications in bioinformatics, cancer research and systems biology.

About the Research Award

The Research Award is given for developing a research line that significantly contributes to novelty of the research at the Faculty of Science. The award holder will receive a diploma and a prize of 250 000 SEK for research.