In Prof Fang Kaitai's office at the Science Building of UIC, students often come to ask for advice. Prof Fang is an internationally renowned Statistician and known as the “Father of Uniform Design”, while the students referred to him as "Grandpa Fang”.

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Prof Fang Kaitai

This year, to congratulate Prof Fang's 80th birthday, Scientia Sinica (Mathematica) published "Celebrating Prof Fang's 80th Birthday Special Edition", and the world-renowned publishing company Springer-Verlag also published a special "Contemporary Experimental Design, Multivariate Analysis and Data Mining”, in honour of Prof Fang’s contributions and achievements in these fields and statistics education. More than 80 authors come from Chinese universities such as Peking University, Nankai University, Renmin University of China, US universities including Princeton University, Stanford University, Yale University, as well as universities in Germany, Sweden, Singapore, Australia, and South America.

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Scientia Sinica (Mathematica) and Springer both publish special issues to celebrate Prof Fang's birthday

Prof Fang is an honourable teacher who has outstanding academic achievements. In 2008, Prof Fang won the second prize of the State Natural Science Award (the first prize of the year is vacant). In 2012, he was named an Excellent Teacher in Guangdong. In 2014, the International Chinese Statistical Association (ICSA) presented the Distinguished Achievement Award to Prof Fang Kaitai. In September 2019, Prof Fang was awarded the commemorative medal celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Prof Fang is also a fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, and the American Statistical Association.

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Prof Fang Kaitai receives second prize of the State Natural Science Award

Prof Fang is devoted to the development and application of statistics. While teaching, he has never stopped doing scientific research. He is a prolific statistician and has published 27 monographs, including six English monographs, and 287 research papers, most of which are published in international and domestic core journals. From 2015 to 2019, Prof Fang was selected as one of Most Cited Chinese Researchers by Elsevier for five consecutive years. He has worked hard for the development of statistics in China and has won praise from domestic and international counterparts.

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Prof Fang Kaitai's works

Prof Fang has taught at UIC since 2006. He was the first Programme Director of the Statistics Programme and is currently the director of the UIC Institute of Statistics and Computational Intelligence. Over the past 14 years, Prof Fang has cultivated a batch of outstanding statistical talents, many of whom have gone on to further studies at prestigious higher education institutions including Oxford University, University College London and Johns Hopkins University.

Prof Fang supervises students to conduct their Final Year Projects (FYP) every year. Completing an FYP, from looking up references, establishing models, programming calculations, to writing in English, can help students progress. Many students are recognised by the international academic community for their excellent research. For example, under the guidance of Prof Fang, 2015 graduate Jiang Jiajian’s final year research project was published in the internationally renowned journal "Statistics and Probability Letters”.

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Prof Fang Kai and his students participate in the International Symposium on Matrix and Statistics (May 2015)

In addition to encouraging academic discussions, Prof Fang Kaitai also helps students to develop good habits and develop confidence in their profession. Prof Fang also tried his best to provide advice and help students further their study and even personally wrote recommendation letters. "Grandpa Fang" in the eyes of many statisticians is not only an academic mentor but also a beacon that guides life forward.

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Prof Fang has recommended UIC students to study at Georgetown University. The picture shows some students photographed at Georgetown University in 2014

Zhang Rong, a 2013 Statistics alumnus who is graduating from the University of Pittsburgh with a PhD this year, said: "Prof Fang has a rigorous attitude and an approachable personality. I saw a master who stands at the peak and still maintained the original intention of scientific research. His tireless and careful spirit of research still affects me to this day."

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Zhang Rong (right) with Prof Fang

Zheng Yanxun, a 2013 alumna of Statistics who is a medical big data analysis engineer at Shantou University Medical College, said: "I'm very glad that I was able to complete my undergraduate FYP under the supervision of Prof Fang. Many details of writing my thesis are still fresh in my memory. Whenever there was a problem, Prof Fang always gave heuristic guidance and encouraged me to work hard to find a solution to the problem. Prof Fang is not only knowledgeable and meticulous, but also amiable and admirable."

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Zheng Yanxun (left) with Prof Fang

With the recommendation and encouragement of Prof Fang, the 2014 alumna of Statistics Luo Yuying went to Georgetown University in the US to pursue a Master of Science in Biostatistics. She is now working at Guangzhou LLX Solutions, a biopharmaceutical services company. She said: "Prof Fang's charm helped form my character as well as broaden my horizons. During my independent research, Prof Fang always used his keen scientific research to open up new paths when we felt like we were bottlenecking. Prof Fang made me understand that no matter what difficulties I encountered in my studies or work, I should complete them with an original intention."

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Luo Yuying (left) with Prof Fang

Prof Fang is still on the front line of teaching and scientific research. Let us pay tribute to him and wish Prof Fang a healthy and long life.

Reporter: Samuel Burgess
Editors: Deen He, Covee Wang, Lauren Richardson