Wen-Jang Huang

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Ph.D. 1983

Director, Institute of Statistics, National University of Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Written by: Shannon Knapp, Ph.D. candidate in Statistics 

As a mathematics major in his home country, Taiwan, Huang knew that many respected mathematicians and statisticians in Taiwan had graduated from Purdue. According to Huang, "With these samples, I felt Purdue must be a place worthy of going to study." He found the Department of Statistics very welcoming and has fond memories of the departmental picnics and Christmas parties. He has particularly vivid memories of the cakes offered before the weekly departmental colloquiums and of Norma Lucas and the other secretaries offering a last cup of coffee before the end of the day. "Because of their kindnesses, all of the foreign students could adjust to the homesickness and adapt to the new environment very quickly," said Huang.

Shortly after graduating from Purdue, Huang returned to his native Taiwan, and helped to establish the Department of Applied Mathematics at the National Sun Yat-sen University in 1987. This was a daunting task for a young professor. Purdue’s Department of Statistics served as his model for success: recruiting the best professors and students. Further following the model he found at Purdue, Huang set up a weekly colloquium series including a tea party before each talk. Huang said, "I used to tell the students even if they might not understand the talks, they would at least remember the cakes were very delicious!" The department started with only a master’s program, but has since grown to grant undergraduate and doctoral degrees as well; it is now considered to be among the top mathematics programs in Taiwan. Huang’s success establishing a new department led him to the University of Kaohsiung in 2000, where he served as Vice President of Academics and helped establish the Department of Applied Mathematics, the Institute of Statistics, and the College of Science.

Huang’s research interests include applied probability, stochastic processes, and mathematical education. He has published 39 refereed articles and nine books. He has also served as editor or associate editor of the Journal of the Chinese Statistical Association, the Proceedings of the International Mathematics Conference 1994, the Journal of Data Science, and the Journal of Data Analysis. In addition to being on the organizing committee of several conferences, Huang started the Southern Statistics Conference in 1992. "At that period of time, there were not many academic activities in Southern Taiwan," Huang said. "[It] has become one of the largest statistics conferences to be held each year in Taiwan."

"To this day, I always feel very grateful and cherish my Purdue experiences," said Huang. "Once I read an article about Gene Keady, the former coach of the Purdue basketball team: Basketball was more than just a game he coached, it was a tool he used to teach his players how to succeed in school as well as in life. This is the way Purdue trains their students."

Wen-Jang Huang received the College of Science Distinguished Alumni Award from Purdue University, College of Science in 2007.

To read more Alumni Profiles, please visit our Alumni Profiles archive. 

Last Updated: Aug 29, 2017 5:23 PM

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