Frederi Viens will Rice University as a professor in the Department of Statistics in the fall of 2022.
Viens is a mathematician and statistician expert in using applied probability, statistical and actuarial sciences to expose risk in measurable terms. He is widely recognized for his methods in stochastic processes and modeling with applications in finance, insurance, climate change, agricultural economics, agro-ecology, nuclear physics, and health care.
Viens comes to Rice from Michigan State University where he served as a professor in the Department of Statistics and Probability from 2016-2022 and led the department as chair from 2016-2020. Prior to his tenure at Michigan State, Viens was a faculty member with joint appointments in the Departments of Statistics and Mathematics at Purdue University for 16 years. While at Purdue, he earned tenure in 2003 and was promoted to full professor in 2008.
After earning his master and doctorate degrees in mathematics from the University of California in Irvine in 1991 and 1996, respectively, Viens started his career in academia as an assistant professor in the Mathematics Department at the University of North Texas.
Viens has authored or co-authored about 90 journal publications and has served as a reviewer and editor for many journals. His research has been supported by numerous grants from the National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture/National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
His most extensive work in probability uses a range of mathematical methods in particular those that incorporate the Malliavian calculus, fractional Brownian motion, and advanced elements of Gaussian theory to measure and manage insurance and financial risk. His methods and models have provided detailed insight into numerical and computational techniques in pricing and hedging financial derivatives, and in optimizing portfolios of risky assets, all within the framework of stochastic volatility.
Viens’ interests applied to insurance risk include evaluating farmer risk exposure to adverse weather and climate with a view towards lending, and incorporating externalities when pricing crop insurance subsidies. His work in domain applications uses computational Bayesian statistics as a means to provide principled uncertainty quantification in areas this has been lacking.
Viens will start his job at Rice teaching an undergraduate and a graduate course in probability. He hopes to expand his teaching portfolio to include doctoral offerings in stochastic analysis, and master’s-level offerings on stochastic finance that are accessible to wide audiences beyond statistics and mathematics graduate students.
“I am very excited to join Rice University’s rich research and instructional environment. I hope to contribute to excellence in student learning, in the hottest areas like data science, sports analytics, and stochastic finance, providing my experience and lessons learned in broad-audience and corporate training, and learning from the successes of Rice’s instructional programs,” said Viens.
Viens also seeks to expand his research opportunities in areas like Bayesian statistics and risk analytics, in collaboration with local experts. “I am sure to learn a lot, and my diverse applied work could inform conversations about the broader impact methodological work can have.”
Viens is a fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (IMS) and served as a Franklin Fellow for the U.S. Department of State. He worked as a program director for the Division of Mathematical Sciences at the National Science Foundation, and as a co-chair of the Mathematics and Statistics Evaluation Group for Canada’s National Science and Engineering Research Council.