Christophe Ley has recently joined the University of Luxembourg as Professor in Statistics. He will reinforce the growing team of statisticians in order to boost research and training in mathematical statistics and data science in Luxembourg.
Prof. Christophe Ley shares with us his background, research activities and future challenges.
Could you introduce yourself?
“I am an applied mathematician working in the field of statistics/data science, with a strong taste for interdisciplinary work. In general I highly value collaborative research, as it also allows me to get to know many interesting people, learn new cultures and discover various research fields. Before joining the University of Luxembourg, I was Associate Professor at Ghent University. I did my PhD at the Université libre de Bruxelles, where I had also studied except for the first year, which I did at the University of Luxembourg during its first year of existence in 2003-2004. I am a passionate teacher and presenter, and consequently I put a lot of emphasis on science dissemination activities. A very good example hereof is the Brussels Summer School of Mathematics that I created in 2007 together with my colleague Yvik Swan. Science dissemination is a task I also try to fulfil in my quality of President of the Luxembourg Statistical Society.”
Why did you join the University of Luxembourg?
“There were several reasons for this decision. First, the advertised position, Applied Statistics with special interest in engineering, life sciences and/or industrial applications, was a very inspiring reflexion of my own research philosophy. Second, the University of Luxembourg, and in particular the Department of Mathematics, are great working environments, and the newly established Master of Data Science particularly caught my attention. Third, I already had several contacts and connexions within Luxembourg, be it inside the University, with research centres such as LIH, LIST or LIROMS, with non-academic partners such as ArcelorMittal or Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg, or with high schools. Last, and certainly not least, I wanted to work for the University of my home country.”
What will be your main research activities and challenges?
“Since the turn of the century, technological advances have provided mankind with unprecedented computing power. This has resulted in the creation of devices that allow the collection and storage of increasingly complex and large data sets, which is the so-called big data phenomenon. Traditional tools no longer suffice to correctly interpret, analyze and hence exploit these data. My research aims at providing answers to these needs by developing innovative statistical and machine learning procedures based on new mathematical and computational tools. Let me give two concrete examples. In sports medicine and in collaboration with sports scientists, clinicians and athletes, I intend to develop data-driven tools to estimate the injury risk for professional as well as recreational athletes in order to reduce sports-related health issues. In structural bioinformatics, I co-supervise a PhD student with researchers from Copenhagen with the aim of modelling the dynamics behind the folding process of proteins, which is directly related to their biological function. We tackle the problem by combining statistics with an emerging paradigm in machine learning – probabilistic programming.”