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Appointment of Assistant Professor in Statistics to support Food from Thought through computational statistics and big data analytics

Photo of prof. Khurram Nadeem

The University of Guelph has named Dr. Khurram Nadeem as Assistant Professor in Statistics. His role began on August 1, 2018. With research interests in predictive modeling of ecological and environmental processes via big data analytics, wildland fire occurrence prediction, and modeling of spatio-temporal processes, Nadeem will bring added statistical expertise to the Food from Thought research team.

An important component of the Food from Thought research program is to study agricultural biodiversity and impacts of agricultural practices on ecosystem change. In his capacity with Food from Thought, Nadeem will leverage methods in computational statistics, quantitative ecology, and big data analytics to support the program in its mission for sustainable agricultural production.

Nadeem will tackle two key objectives: i) assembling large scale integrated data sets suitable for developing big data models to answer the underlying research questions, and ii) providing master’s and PhD students the opportunity to acquire hands-on experience in realizing the full big data life cycle – from data wrangling and fusion, to data mining to deployment of models – in the context of multidisciplinary, team-based collaborative research.

“With his combined expertise in statistics and leadership on environmental sustainability research, Khurram will make excellent contributions to Food from Thought,” says Malcolm Campbell, Vice President (Research). “Khurram’s expertise in statistics will help accelerate Food from Thought’s innovative research, and advance the digital revolution we’re bringing to agriculture.”

Nadeem’s academic studies trained him in statistics, and he has led environmental statistics research projects across Canada prior to joining U of G. As a postdoctoral fellow at Acadia University, he forged research collaborations with the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to develop spatio-temporal population dynamics models for conservation and management of species. With Natural Resources Canada, he worked on spatially predicting severe wildfires in Canada, and had continued that work as a postdoctoral research associate at Western University.

Nadeem’s position is within the department of Mathematics and Statistics in the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences.

“We are very happy to have Khurram join our department,” says prof. Julie Horrocks, chair of the department of Mathematics and Statistics. “Khurram brings strong expertise in computational statistics for big data, and extensive knowledge in databases, data fusion techniques and big data analytics, including methods for spatial data. He will help us to maintain our excellence in teaching and research in computational statistics and bioinformatics.”

Nadeem is the second of several research faculty to be hired by the University through the Food from Thought program, which is funded by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) (Dr. John Sulik began with the University in June, 2018). The researchers will be directly involved in CFREF-supported research, and the development of an integrated research and innovation platform for accessing and applying big data in the agriculture and agri-food sector. They will have varying expertise across numerous departments, and contribute to Food from Thought’s goal of increasing our ability to leverage big data for the benefit of food production while maintaining the health of our ecosystems.