Greetings from Amherst College

We send our greetings from Amherst where we’ve just finished the academic year (the third and hopefully last impacted by the pandemic). We’re pleased to bring this issue of the Statistics and Data Science Newsletter. As always, we look forward to sharing your updates. Please don’t hesitate to be in touch. In any case, we hope that you and yours are keeping well and safe.

In memoriam: Caley Winfrey, ’19

We are greatly saddened by the passing of Caleb Winfrey on December 23, 2021. Memorial thoughts can be found at:

SDS Fellow Projects

Despite the pandemic and masking restrictions, our Rosenblum Statistics and Data Science Fellows continued their work with the Advancement Office. Here they are during their end of semester hybrid presentation in the fall (from left at table, Karen Liu ’23, Jessica Yu ’22, Shu Amano ’22E, and Director of Advancement Reporting & Systems Nicole Sibley).

Work with the Advancement Office will continue in the fall. In addition, a project with the Office of Environmental Sustainability and its new director Weston Dripps ’92 is planned for the fall.

Statistics and Data Science Colloquia

As part of the Amherst College Statistics and Data Science Colloquium, Marie Ozanne (Mount Holyoke College) gave an in-person talk on October 4th entitled “Bayesian compartmental models to assess the potential public health risks associated of vertical transmission of a parasitic infection with multiple transmission modes”

On October 28th, Bhramar Mukherjee of the University of Michigan gave a virtual talk focused on Using Electronic Health Records and Phenome-wide Association Studies for COVID-19 Research.


Our students and alumni have again received a number of awards for their academic and co-curricular efforts. Congrats to the following honorees:

Statistics Theses

We had a total of five thesis projects in statistics. Congratulations to this year’s thesis writers and their advisors for their excellent work:

Faculty Updates

Kat Correia

Kat has been engaged in multiple projects related to reproductive medicine during her research sabbatical this past academic year. The projects have led her to delve into several exciting statistical approaches she had not encountered before, including multiple imputation by chained equations, a one-step generalized estimating equations (GEE) estimator for large cluster sizes, median regression, and zero-or-one-inflated beta regression.

In January, she joined Massachusetts General Hospital’s Biostatistics team as a Senior Data Scientist. Her first collaboration in that position has been with the Medical Practice Evaluation Center investigating immune responses to HIV and antiretroviral therapy in pregnancy.

Outside of work, Kat delighted in running the Happy Valley 1/2 Marathon in October and the Munson Memorial Classic 1/2 Marathon in November (that second one may have been overambitious, and her knees are still recovering!).

Nick Horton

Nick taught STAT495 (Advanced Data Analysis) in the fall and has been on sabbatical during the spring semester.

In January, Nick took over as the editor of the Journal of Statistics and Data Science Education which is published by the American Statistical Association and Taylor and Francis. He and his colleagues on the Data Science Corps Wrangle-Analyze-Visualize project are organizing a symposium on data science at Massachusetts Two Year Colleges. Nick’s paper on the DSC-WAV project can be found here.

Shu-Min Liao

Shu-Min participated in the College’s inaugural Being Human at Amherst Summer Institute last summer. She then became one of the faculty facilitators for the Being Human in STEM (HSTEM) course in January 2022, and loved it! She is organizing an invited panel session for JSM 2022, titled “Being Human in Statistics and Data Science: Humanistic Pedagogical and Curricular Innovations”.

Active in ASA-JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) Outreach Group, Shu-Min is passionate about antiracism and DEI work. In January, she published an article, titled “At the Rise of JEDI: Lessons Learned from Fall of Jedi Order in Star Wars” in the JEDI corner of Amstat News and received a lot of positive feedback.

On the methodological research front, Shu-Min has been enjoying working with her thesis student, Kenny Chen, and other collaborators on developing model-free regression association measures for high-dimensional contingency tables using copula modeling.

Pam Matheson

Pam has been appointed as a Lecturer in Statistics. In addition to her teaching, she has been collaborating with colleagues at Rutgers University on the analysis of the Opioid Analgesic Reduction Study (OARS), a comparison of opioid vs. non-opioid combination analgesics for management of post-surgical pain.

Amy Wagaman

We’re excited and proud that the Amherst College Trustees promoted Amy Wagaman to be a full Professor of Statistics as of July 1, 2022.

Alumni and Student News

Eddie Kim ’15 writes: “I’ll be joining Bentley University’s Mathematical Sciences Department as an Assistant Professor starting Fall 2022, building on their stats and data science curriculum. Much to the surprise of the search committee (and my advisors), a PhD in Education can even end up in a math department! Just goes to show, a strong background in stats is a value add to any field or discipline. Very happy to be staying in Massachusetts for the foreseeable future.”

Connor Haley ’17 shares: “I’m wrapping up the spring semester of my MBA/MEng program at UC Berkeley, which has been a great opportunity to build new skills and relationships. I am getting ready to start a full time role in June as a data scientist at Ursa Space Systems, working remotely from the SF Bay Area. Before then, I will be taking a trip to the Grand Canyon and then to Amherst for my 5-year reunion!”

Muling Si ’17 reports: “Time really flies and can’t believe it’s already been almost five years since graduating from Amherst! I just graduated from my masters program in management science and engineering from Stanford last summer. I’m still working in quant research/investment space and am excited to move back to the east coast this May.”

Jonathan Che ’18 reports: “I’ve been chugging along with my PhD program, mostly trying to wrap up a bunch of my applied projects and consulting work. For a change of pace, I’ll be working with the New York Yankees as an analyst this summer to see what the baseball stats world looks like under the hood.”

Jeff Lancaster ’18 shares: “I’m still living in Washington DC, and am working at a company called Palo Alto Networks that develops cybersecurity software. One cool project I worked on this year was building a model that tries to attribute internet assets to different corporations based on seed strings and top-level domains and then building an app within our internal tools so analysts can work with it without dealing with code.”

Tim Lee ’18 shares that he published a paper in Nature entitled “Megastudies improve the impact of applied behavioural science”

Fengling Hu ‘19 reports: "I am at Penn for the MD-PhD program in biostatistics. I’ve already chosen a thesis advisor, Taki Shinohara. He is an absolutely amazing mentor - he is so fun to work with and really prioritizes his students’ careers and well-being. Just last month, Taki, other students in the lab, and I went to ENAR in Houston - I presented my work on neuroimaging, met some of Taki’s collaborators, hung out with other graduate students from Penn, and made some new friends from around the country! I’ll also be presenting at the ASA Statistics in Imaging conference at the end of May and also at the Organization for Human Brain Mapping conference at the end of June.

Otherwise, in life, I am finding a lot of time to enjoy non-statistics things! I go to the rock climbing gym a few times a week, watch TV in the evenings, cook and eat interesting food, and so on."

Robert Zielinski ’19 notes that “My first year at Brown has been busy between classes and preparing for the qualifying exam, but I have been enjoying it. I also recently started working on a research project with the goal of developing extensions of manifold learning methods for neuroimaging, and I’m excited to see where that leads.” Emily Ye ’20 reports that “things are pretty exciting on my end! I am approaching the end of my two years as a Market Research Analyst dQ&A, a San Francisco-based diabetes-focused company founded by Kelly Close ’90. I will be moving back to the East Coast later this year because in the fall, I will be starting a PhD in Management at the NYU Stern School of Business. This summer, I’m excited to attend Amherst’s Class of 2020 make-up commencement and do a bit of traveling - Jessica Jeong and I are planning a trip to Korea in August, which we postponed for two years due to the pandemic.”

Maria-Cristiana (Kitty) Gîrjău ’21 participated in the University of Warwick Data Science for Social Good (DSSCx) program

Andrea Boskovic ’21 writes: “I’m in my second year as a UW Statistics PhD Student. I’m currently working on a project estimating under-five mortality in low and middle income countries with Jon Wakefield, taking two classes, and TA-ing an introductory statistics course. Outside of school, I’ve been running, reading, and listening to music (currently bingeing The Beatles’ White Album and 90s/early 00s hip-hop).”

Emily Lachtara ’21 shared an update: “After nearly a year in the MGH cancer center, I have contributed to 3 publications with others in the works. This spring I will be joining Frontier Medicines to help further their precision medicine chemoproteomics and machine learning platforms. While R is still my go-to language (so many bioinformatics tools!), I have picked up a bit of Matlab and Python.”

Sabir Meah ’21 shares: “I’ve spent the past year teaching labs for master’s level regression courses and doing my first year of my MS Biostatistics coursework at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. This summer, I will be continuing my research with my department on using electronic health records to determine COVID-19 vaccine booster effectiveness and plan to eventually publish the results in a scientific journal. I’m very happy to have the opportunity to do important work in public health.”

Daniel Njoo ’21 reports that: “since graduating, I have been working as an associate at a crypto-only venture capital fund, based out of Hong Kong called BaboonVC. I’d love to say that I apply my statistical knowledge on a day-to-day basis, but to be honest, if modelling traditional equities and startups is more art than science, modelling crypto returns is abstract art. I do, however, enjoy taking apart bad graphics/models that some of our investments might think to put in their pitch decks (3D pie charts comes to mind) and guiding them towards something a little less… misleading?”

Enoch Shin ’21 writes: “In January, I took a position as a data analyst and project manager at the Case Method Institute, a nonprofit led by professors at the Harvard Business School. We work with high school history and civics teachers across the country to encourage the use of HBS’s case method in their classrooms, and I’m overseeing some exciting projects in their web and data infrastructure as they scale up their operations.”

In March, Professor Solsiree del Moral and Enoch submitted an interdisciplinary history-data article, titled “Institutionalized Children: Race, Class, and Gender in Puerto Rico’s Institutions for Minors, 1910-1940,” to the Hispanic American Historical Review at Duke University Press for initial review. This is the first of several culminating publications resulting from the work we began back when he was an SDS fellow working to digitize and wrangle archival census data.

Kenny Chen ’22 notes that he will be matriculating at Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health in their Masters of Science in Biostatistics program.

Siyi Li ’22 writes: “I will be working as a Research Assistant at the Urban Institute, a DC-based socio-economic policy think tank. I look forward to further pursuing my interest in urban history and spatial data science by conducting urban policy research at the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center.”

Ainsley Mackenzie ’22 writes that in the fall she will be attending Washington University in St Louis’s Epidemiology and Biostatistics MPH program.

Maggie Wu ’22 is excited to report she received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistanceship in Taiwan to provides her with the opportunity to pursue her passions for teaching, social research and storytelling.

Other news?

Have other news you’d like to share? Please send it along. We’d love to hear about it.

Best wishes to you all.

Last updated July 14, 2022

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