Solar Eclipse!

Clemson has the fortune of witnessing a total solar eclipse for approximately 2 minutes and 38 seconds on Monday, August 21. We’re expecting traffic similar to a home football game (which is a lot!), so that part could be annoying. The good news is that the view will pretty much be the same no matter where you are in the city, so I’ll probably stay home and walk out in the backyard for it.

I’m not bragging about anything, since we literally did nothing. The universe just happened to work out that way this time. But it is a once-in-a-lifetime event!

Maybe I’ll have some Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd playing while I stare at the sun (with safety glasses, of course!).


More Talks on the Horizon

In the near (and not so near) future, I will be speaking at ENAR in Washington, D. C.  (March 2017), as well as JSM in Baltimore. The ENAR talk will be over some ongoing work dealing with a Bayesian binary regression approach to label fusion in structural neuroimaging. The JSM talk, on the other hand, will delve into my “other half,” so to speak. I will be presenting some recent work on “state-aware” calibration of computer models, done in collaboration with my civil engineering colleague here at Clemson.

I hope to see you there!

Upcoming SAMSI Talk

I will be visiting SAMSI again on January 26-27 for a short workshop on statistical inverse problems. I will be presenting a recent joint work with Arvind Saibaba and Sarah Vallèlian on using low-rank approximations to precision matrices for fast sampling of high-dimensional Gaussian random variables, useful when using Gibbs sampling for posterior approximations to solutions of the ill-posed inverse problem. The preprint is available here. I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and making some new ones!


Does Order Matter?

As I have interacted more with researchers not just in my own field but elsewhere, I have been surprised at the diversity of opinions concerning authorship of journal papers. Often, in engineering and statistics (and elsewhere I imagine), the order in which the authors appear on a paper is indicative of who contributed what to the paper. Sometimes, though, statisticians will essentially flip a coin to determine order of authorship, but this seems to occur with senior researchers and others who are in a position to not worry about such evaluations.

This thinking is in contrast to the seemingly common practice among mathematicians to list authors in alphabetical order. I was quite surprised when I first learned about this from my mathematician colleagues (“How do you know who contributed what?”). I’m not a mathematician, of course, but my impression is that it generally requires a substantial contribution to be included as an author on a math paper, more so than what it takes to be a coauthor on engineering papers, say (based on what I glean from talking to engineering colleagues), and even some statistics papers.

So does the order of authorship matter? My answer is “yes, and no, and maybe.” I could be wrong about this, or I could be oversimplifying things. It’s almost impossible to get researchers even in the same field to come to a consensus about anything, much less researchers across disciplines. Some academicians, though, seem to be unaware that such differences in conventions even exist. That’s yet another reason I think the trend toward more interdisciplinary work is a good thing.

Oh well.

Available Graduate Fellowships

We are still looking for one or two strong graduate students to join us on GAANN Fellowships (Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need). GAANN Fellows will participate in an interdisciplinary program involving model validation and uncertainty quantification, with particular emphasis on applications in civil and environmental engineering. The Fellows will have opportunities to interact with leading researchers in the field, including Los Alamos National Laboratory and other technical laboratories worldwide. Support includes full tuition and a competitive stipend. We are looking for students with a strong academic record and who plan to pursue a career in research. U.S. citizenship is required. See this flyer for more details.

Interested? Email me ( or Dr. Sez Atamturktur (Clemson Civil Engineering, and let us know!

“D.” stands for Derek

My professional name on papers, email signatures, etc. is almost always D. Andrew Brown. I’ve always found unnecessary initials, suffixes, etc. to be a little pretentious. It’s no surprise, then, that I am ambivalent about including the “D.” in front of my own name. However, in official directories, class bulletins, and most legal documents, I show up as “Derek Brown” or “Derek A. Brown.” This has caused confusion in the past when people come around looking for Derek Brown, and they find Andrew, so I just use the initial to (hopefully) make it clear that we are one and the same. There also are A LOT of Andrew Browns in the world, and I hope that “D. Andrew Brown” makes distinguishing me from the rest a little easier.