University of Tennessee

Business Professor Earns NSF Grant

August 27, 2020

In July, the National Science Foundation announced new research grants for 2020, including one to Emre Demirkaya of the Department of Business Analytics and Statistics in the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business. Demirkaya received $200,000 to support a three-year study on “High-Dimensional Interaction Detection and Nonparametric Inference.”

In this project, Demirkaya and his collaborator, Jinchi Lv of the University of Southern California, will attempt to build statistical foundations of interaction detection and nonparametric inference and offer reproducible and scalable algorithms for selecting important interactions. Such interaction-detection tools have many important applications in areas such as social networks, marketing, medicine, genetics and cancer studies. Demirkaya and Lv also plan to implement the proposed methods through free software packages and make them readily available in all these fields.

“Understanding how variables interact with each other is fundamentally important in many scientific discoveries and contemporary applications,” Demirkaya says. “Especially in a high-dimensional framework, the sheer number of interaction terms deteriorates the reproducibility of the findings. Identifying important interactions in a reproducible way can help improve model interpretability and prediction and also make underlying discoveries more reliable.”

Michael Galbreth, head of the Department of Business Analytics and Statistics, praised Demirkaya’s work.

“BAS is proud that Emre’s research efforts have been rewarded with an NSF grant,” Galbreth said. “This award is another example of how we are raising the profile of the Department of Business Analytics and Statistics on national and international levels.”

About the Department of Business Analytics and Statistics at UT’s Haslam College of Business

The Department of Business Analytics and Statistics’ mission is to create knowledge through research and to disseminate that knowledge through its degree programs. The faculty uses the results of its application-focused research to educate students on how to effect positive change within organizations by emphasizing soft skills such as communication and team-building alongside the targeted and effective use of analytics. The department’s continually evolving curriculum draws upon state-of-the-art theoretical and practical content from the fields of statistics, machine learning and operations research.

About the National Science Foundation

NSF’s mission is to advance the progress of science, a mission accomplished by funding proposals for research and education made by scientists, engineers and educators across the country. The NSF funds research and education in science and engineering, through grants, contracts and cooperative agreements. The Foundation accounts for about 20 percent of federal support to academic institutions for basic research.




Scott McNutt, business writer/publicist,