Credentials: Professor, Department of Statistics and Department of Botany; Member, Institute for Foundations of Data Science
Position title: Departments of Statistics and Botany
Cécile Ané earned her Ph.D. in mathematics, but she shifted her focus to statistics and evolutionary biology because she wanted to answer questions the world is asking, such as how species will adapt and survive climate change. At UW-Madison, she works with biologists across campus, helping them work with vast amounts of data and fill in gaps in understanding. These collaborations, in turn, inform her fundamental research in statistics.
Evolutionary biologists face the challenge of having both too much and not enough data. They have incomplete data from existing species and no data from extinct species. However, the data sets they do have can include thousands of individuals and millions of genes. Cécile helps biologists filter their data to focus on their research questions. She uses mathematical modeling to address the uncertainty of conclusions we can draw about the past, using data collected on organisms living today. She develops research software in Julia, which combines the speed of compiled languages with the interactivity of Python and R.
Cécile sees potential to transform data into meaning in all disciplines. By growing and strengthening the data science community on campus, she hopes everyone will be more aware of how data science methods can further their work.
“I love to meet people in biology, hear their stories, help them plot their data, and then see a big smile on their face when they discover something they didn’t see before.”