Ian Johnston                Curriculum Vitae

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Department of Mathematics and Statistics
Boston University
111 Cummington Mall
Boston, MA 02215

Office: MCS 151
Phone: 617-353-2560
Fax: 617-353-8100
Email: ianj at bu dot edu

I am a fifth year PhD student in the Statistics program at Boston University. Before joining BU in the fall of 2010, I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and a minor in Japanese from Drexel University. Since then, I have also earned a Master of Arts degree in mathematics from Boston University.

Teaching Experience

I have been an Instructor for the following courses:

Summer Session II 2014

Spring 2013

Summer Session II 2011

I have been a Teaching Fellow for the following courses:

Spring 2015

Fall 2014

Spring 2014

Fall 2012

Spring 2012

Fall 2011

Spring 2011

Fall 2010



  1. Block-Wise Auto-Regressive Modeling of Latent Genotypes for GWAS. In Preparation.
  1. Assessing the Computational Efficiency of a Spatial Boost Model for Quantitative Trait GWAS. Accepted by Springer Proceedings in Mathematics & Statistics.
  1. Hierarchical Gene-Proximity Models for Genome-Wide Association Studies. Under Revision. [arXiv]
  1. A Bayesian Hierarchical Gene Model on Latent Genotypes for Genome-Wide Association Studies. [Full Text].

Research Experience


Summer 2014

  • I chaired session 61 on Applications of Stochastic Blockmodels to Network Analysis and spoke as a winner of the SBSS Student Paper Competition in session 221 at the Joint Statistical Meetings in Boston.
  • In late August I attended the 2014 MBI Workshop for Young Researchers in Mathematical Biology (WYRMB) in Columbus, Ohio.
Columbus, OH

Spring 2014

NESS 2014

Summer 2013

  • I participated in the JSPS Summer Program and continued my collaboration with Professor Mamitsuka and his lab at the Bioinformatics Center, Institute for Chemical Research, Kyoto University. During this time, I presented a poster of my work as part of the International Workshop on Bioinformatics and Systems Biology at Kyoto University (IBSB) and gave a talk about my work as part of the International Workshop on Machine Learning and Applications to Biology (MLAB) at Hokkaido University.
MLAB 2013

Spring 2013

  • A team of classmates and I worked together on a poster for a competition hosted by the International Association for Statistical Computing. We proposed using a parametric bootstrap technique on a novel linear model to analyze the effectiveness of the Kyoto Protocol in reducing the worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases.
IASC Poster

Summer 2012

  • As part of the young researchers exchange program, I continued working on my research project related to genome-wide association studies under the guidance of Professor Mamitsuka and Professor Hancock at the Bioinformatics Center at Kyoto University.
Mamitsuka Lab

Fall 2011 and beyond

  • I have begun working with Dr. Luis Carvalho on a project related to genome-wide association studies. In particular, we have been developing a hierarchical Bayesian gene model on latent genotypes for GWAS. I recently presented our research at the 18th Genetic Analysis Workshop in Stevenson, Washington and submitted our first publication on the model to the BMC proceedings.


Fall 2009, and Spring and Summer 2010

  • For the remainder of my time as an undergraduate student, I continued working off and on with Dr. Ko Nishino at Drexel University on a project to automate the process of building a seamless texture map for a 3D model from a set of range image data and corresponding high resolution density images. While documenting the entire procedure from start to finish [pdf] and writing the programs to construct the texture maps, I gained experience using kd-trees and Markov random fields.

  • Textured Frog

Spring and Summer 2009

  • For my final co-op (a 6 month period of full time work) at Drexel University, I worked at Monitoring Analytics in Eagleville, PA and helped analyze lots of data related to the electricity market in the northeast part of the United States. In addition to assisting some of the analysts in the development and optimizing of an opportunity cost calculator to determine the order in which power plants should be turned on so as to keep the market economic, I researched neural networks on the side and practiced fitting them to some of the data sets to try and predict the future hourly cost of electricity over the course of an entire year.

  • Neural Network

Spring and Summer 2008

  • For another one of my co-ops at Drexel University, I worked under the guidance of Dr. Ko Nishino as a research assistant on a project related to modeling light reflectance with a novel directional statistics model.

Spring and Summer 2007

  • For my first co-op at Drexel University, I helped as a research assistant on a few different projects at Applied Communications and Information Networking in Camden, NJ. One of my final duties involved performing a literature survey on the use of XML schema metrics.

Summer 2006

  • Over this summer I helped Dr. Jamie MacMahan at the University of Delaware with his oceanography research; specifically I assisted him on a project to study the velocity of rip tide currents by constructing and testing two ocean drogue devices. My work is acknowledged in his publication entitled Low-Cost Handheld Global Positioning System for Measuring Surf-Zone Currents.


JMP Addin

In 2011 I wrote several JMP scripts to help teach probability and statistics to undergraduate students as part of a project funded by a Redesigning the Undergraduate Learning Experience (RULE) grant. All of the scripts are freely available here: BU_Probability_Lab_Addin.jmpaddin. I am particularly proud of the game I made to help people understand the famous Monty Hall problem.

Monty Hall Lab

Japanese Language Quiz

Using the data contained inside the freeware tool Wakan for students of Chinese or Japanese, I programmed a quiz game in Microsoft Excel using Visual Basic to help students (like myself) memorize Japanese vocabulary. There are many different settings for the quiz game, and all of the words are contained inside various spreadsheets in the document. You can download it for free here: Japanese_Game.xls. Remember to enable macros when you open the file so that the game can be played correctly.

Japanese Language Quiz



In my free time (when I have it), I like to tackle data modeling competition problems (e.g. Kaggle). My classmate and I recently developed a classifier to determine whether or not a right whale call is present within a two or three second sound clip. Although we did not win the competition, we gained experience with analyzing sound data and in particular with representing audio signals as images in the form of spectrograms. The bright region in the spectrogram below is an example of a right whale call.



Since high school I have also enjoyed making web sites. Although I have never really kept up with the latest in web design, I still prefer to make my websites from scratch using nothing but HTML and CSS. The images that make up the sidebar on the left and the image below are examples of watercolor artwork by my late grandfather, Perry Stirling. I used to maintain a website to sell his artwork, but from now on I thought it'd be nice to at least share his work here.


Sangaku (算額)

For my minor thesis, I researched the Japanese cultural artifacts known as Sangaku, or mathematical tablets. During the Edo period in Japan (1603-1867), people would often create colorful tablets that depicted a math problem or theorem without a solution or proof and hang them at temples and shrines. This tradition of creating, hanging and solving Sangaku helped the Japanese develop a unique style of mathematics called Wasan. I think the encouragement to study more math provided by that tradition could be useful for today's students as well. When I visited Japan in 2012, I was able to see some Sangaku firsthand.