Grethe Hystad, assistant professor of Statistics at Purdue University Northwest (PNW), has been selected as the recipient of the 2021 Felix Chayes Prize for Excellence in Research in Mathematical Petrology. The prize, awarded by the International Association for Mathematical Geosciences, is presented to recipients of exceptional potential, proven research ability, and for outstanding contributions to statistical petrology or related applications of mathematics or informatics.

“I am honored to have received the 2021 Felix Chayes Prize,” Hystad said. “I am very grateful to my collaborator, the mineralogist, Dr. Robert Hazen at the Earth and Planets Laboratory at the Carnegie Institution for Science and the entire research group for introducing me to very interesting research problems in the intersection of statistics/mathematics, mineralogy, and geosciences. I enjoy bringing the knowledge I have gained and continue to gain through my research to students at Purdue University Northwest.”

Hystad is part of a research team that has received a grant from the John Templeton Foundation for the next three years and she will hire PNW students to work on this grant. Their involvement will help the students obtain valuable experience with investigating research problems and presenting their findings.

Nicoleta Tarfulea, professor of Mathematics and interim chair of the PNW Mathematics and Statistics Department, notes that the Felix Chayes Prize is a respected award. “Earning this award validates Dr. Hystad’s research quality and scientific reputation,” said Tarfulea. “It represents further proof of the high professional quality and dedication of the Mathematics and Statistics faculty. In addition, it greatly contributes to the prestige and visibility of PNW.”

Hystad’s work focuses on applying statistics to the analysis of deep time events (billions of years ago) that relate to the co-evolution of the geosphere and biosphere. She has formulated a population model for mineral frequency distribution that has allowed her to estimate the total number of distinct mineral species in Earth’s crust.