Statistics faculty members awarded American Family Insurance research funding


Department of Statistics Associate Professor Hyunseung Kang (L) and Assistant Professor Keith Levin

Two researchers in the Department of Statistics are among nine campus investigators whose projects were awarded funding in the latest round of the American Family Funding Initiative, a unique sponsored research partnership between American Family Insurance and UW–Madison through the Data Science Institute.

Through this initiative, Associate Professor Hyunseung Kang and Assistant Professor Keith Levin will receive a year of funding for innovative data science research.

Kang is developing easy-to-use tools to answer a broad range of counterfactual questions arising in the insurance industry, such as, “What would be the loss from a claim if a policyholder had a ‘Fair’ credit score instead of an ‘Excellent’ credit score?”. Beyond insurance, these tools will address more fundamental questions in data science about causality and have the potential to strengthen claims about causality from observational data.

Levin’s work creates new methods to answer causal questions using multimodal data. Causal inference tools, which seek to establish causation rather than correlation, are not well-suited to large-scale, multimodal data that is typically noisy and incomplete. Levin’s project will develop new ways to discern both direct and indirect effects of a treatment on an outcome of interest when applied to such multimodal data.

American Family Insurance has committed $10 million over 10 years to support UW–Madison research with potential to fuel discovery in data science, while creating value for industry and society. Since its launch in spring 2020, 40 teams of UW–Madison faculty and collaborators have been awarded nearly six million dollars through this internal funding competition.

About the researchers:

Hyunseung Kang is an associate professor in the Department of Statistics. His research is focused on developing methods to analyze causal relationships by using instrumental variables, econometrics, semi/nonparametric methods, network analysis, and machine learning. Kang holds a Ph.D. in Statistics from University of Pennsylvania, as well as two degrees from Stanford University: a master’s degree in Statistics and a bachelor’s degree in Mathematical and Computational Science. Visit Hyunseung Kang’s website.

Keith Levin is an assistant professor in the Department of Statistics. His research focuses on network analysis, dimension reduction, concentration inequalities, and clustering problems, with applications to neuroscience and speech processing. Levin has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins University and bachelor’s degrees in linguistics and psychology from Northeastern University. Visit Keith Levin’s website.

For the full list of American Family Funding Initiative awardees, visit the Data Science Institute’s website.