We send our greetings from Amherst where we’ve just finished the academic year and sent off our largest class ever of statistics majors. We know that it’s been a challenging year for everyone. For our seniors, they’ve had three semesters of disrupted learning. Our juniors had interrupted study abroad. Our sophomores had a rude shock midway through their first year. Our first years haven’t experienced a non-Pandemic Amherst. It’s been a heck of a year for the faculty and staff as well. But overall we are safe and well and hope that you are as well.
We’re pleased to bring this issue of the Statistics and Data Science Newsletter. May it brighten your day. 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.
There’s now an official data science presence at Amherst thanks to the efforts of an interdisciplinary team of faculty with a goal of creating an integrated humanistic and scientific approach to understanding our data-infused world. More details can be found at our new website.
Despite the pandemic we had a rich set of events as part of this year’s Statistics and Data Science Colloquia series. Talks this year included Alison Pedley (Merck), Elizabeth Upton (Williams), Pamela Rist (Harvard University), Sheila Gaynor (Harvard University), David Kline (The Ohio State University), and Jemar Bather (Harvard University) Thanks to Kat Correia for her work as colloquium coordinator. We also hosted or co-sponsored a series of graduate school information sessions during the fall (UMass, Brown, Yale, Rice, and Boston University).
Our students and alumni have again received a number of awards for their academic and co-curricular efforts. Congrats to the following honorees:
Stephany Flores-Ramos ’17 received a Soros Fellowship for New Americans.
Jasper Flint ’21 received the Breusch prize for best honors thesis in statistics.
Maria-Cristiana (Kitty) Gîrjău ’21, Tyler Marshall ’21, and Breanna Richards ’21 received the Walker Award for Mathematics and Statistics.
Jessica Yu ’22 received the Walker Leadership Award.
Leah Johnson ’22 received the Walker Education Award.
Breanna Richards ’21 and Maria-Cristiana (Kitty) Gîrjău ’21 were named as recipients of this year’s Amherst College Five College Statistics award.
We’re Amherst Proud of Tyler Marshall (AC ’21) for his award winning CAUSE USRESP project “Using the James-Stein Estimator to Predict Pitcher Performance”: better living through shrinkage!
Congratulations to our Mu Sigma Rho (national statistics honor society) inductees: Kenny Chen, Jacob Frank, Leah Anne Johnson, Konstantin Larin, Ainsley Mackenzie, Dennis Mawira Mbae, Ng Yao Hua Keane, Zachary Ostrow, Jemima Park, Breanna Richards, Alexandar Ristic, Tristan (Wilson) Sithole, Maggie Wu, and Jessica Yu.
Congratulations to statistics graduate Enoch Shin ’21 whose work was featured in the commencement issue of the Amherst Student: Enoch Shin: A teacher and a storyteller. Enoch’s work on the analysis of the hand-written census records stemmed from a project begun through the David ’92 and Jeanette Rosenblum Statistics and Data Science Fellows and is part of Prof. Solsiree Del Moral’s forthcoming book manuscript tentatively titled “Street Children, Crime, and Punishment in Puerto Rico, 1940-1965.”
We had a record number of thesis projects in statistics. Congratulations to this year’s thesis writers and their advisors for their excellent work:
Jessica Yu ’22 reports that this past semester, RLadies/Amherst has had the opportunity to host a variety of virtual events. We had weekly meetings where we took on the popular #TidyTuesday data visualization challenges and explored making shiny apps and implementing fun packages! In March, our guest speaker Dr. Maria Tackett from Duke University showed us how to build RStudio websites. In April we also offered a Python mini-crash course taught by Andrea and Jessica. We look forward to hosting more events next semester and growing the RLadies community! Please check out our GitHub page (https://github.com/RLadies-Amherst/RLadies-Amherst) to stay updated with our events.
Kat enjoyed teaching Data Science this spring semester (you can check the students’ final projects – creative blog posts that explore topics related to covid, politics, the environment and sports – here!). She is kicking off her year-long research sabbatical (which starts this July) participating in the SURF summer program. During SURF, she’ll work with students to review the available evidence around racial disparities reported in the obstetrics & gynecology literature, and begin work on a data art collection to highlight and connect the results. Kat was also awarded funding for an NIH R03 grant to develop a prediction tool that would help promote safer, effective, more responsible care for in vitro fertilization patients. She looks forward to delving into that work, and tackling the statistical methodology challenges it entails, during her research sabbatical.
Nick taught STAT495 (Advanced Data Analysis) in the fall, a section of STAT135 (Intro to Statistics via Modeling) during our January term, and has been on sabbatical during the spring semester. He presented one of the keynotes for the Project TIER (Teaching Integrity in Empirical Research) spring symposium held in conjunction with the University of Sheffield Methods Institute and is organizing a special issue of the Journal of Statistics and Data Science Education focused on “Teaching reproducibility and responsible workflow”. Nick was also elected Vice President of the American Statistical Association with a term to start in January, 2022 (see link).
Amy authored a chapter on clustering appearing in the recently published “Data Science for Mathematicians” text. In addition, her revision of Dobrow’s Probability with Applications and R (its second edition) is due out this summer. She is excited to be teaching in the Summer Bridge Summer Quantitative Social Sciences program later this summer.
Becky Danning ’16 reports that she will be starting a Biostatistics PhD at the Harvard School of Public Health in the fall. She’s broadly interested in developing network analysis community detection algorithms for cluster detection to uncover latent genetic subtypes of complex neuropsychiatric conditions and notes how important her thesis-writing experience has had on her post-college life.
Trevor Smith ’16 reports: I joined the Biden campaign in June 2019 as the first member of the Fundraising Analytics team. Over the 18 months I was on the campaign I did a variety of tasks but mostly focused on fundraising projections and managing our digital fundraising ads program. After the campaign ended I started a data analytics and engineering consulting firm with two of my coworkers from the campaign which is off to a great start! I’m pretty bummed about not being able to come back for reunion this Spring, but definitely understand why.
Connor Haley ’17 shares greetings from the West Coast: Over the past year, I have begun taking courses in UC Berkeley’s MBA/MEng program, studying business and industrial engineering. In addition, since the start of the new year I have been interning at Tesla, helping to plan the buildout of the company’s Supercharger global network (electric vehicle fast-charging stations). When I’m not working, I’ve been doing a lot of camping and hiking to explore the beautiful scenery of California.
Christien Wright ’17 shared that he is working as a Research and Innovation Analyst with the Milwaukee Bucks Basketball Operations Department. I’m super elated to make this transition. I appreciate the training I received at Amherst more by the day, a lot of which I have made use of in my early career.
Sarah Teichman ’18 writes: I’m doing well and enjoying the nice weather of spring in Seattle! This quarter I’ve been working with another student to develop a new University of Washington course that will introduce students to ethical issues in algorithmic decision making. I’ve enjoyed the process of course development so far and am looking forward to co-teaching it in the summer!
Kaitlyn Haase ’19 writes: I’m working at EY-Parthenon, a strategy consulting firm based in Boston. I’ve worked primarily in the TMT (technology, media, and telecom) and Healthcare industries across strategy and due diligence projects. I lived at my family’s house throughout the pandemic but recently moved back into Boston.
Tim Lee ’18 shares: I’ve been working on publishing some research findings from large-scale RCTs about nudging people to get more exercise and to get their flu and COVID-19 vaccines. I’m happy to share some effective, science-backed strategies if you’re interested! Also, I’ll be starting a master’s program in analytics and data science at Northwestern in the fall. I’m really excited to be a full-time student again!
Silvia Sotolongo ’19 reports: I have been working for RTI International in Waltham, MA since graduation. I am a junior analyst on a project called Primary Care First, which is a value-based payment model under the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Primary care practices who have Medicare patients join the project and will be paid based on how well their patients do (i.e., using the hospital less, lowering total cost of care, etc.), instead of based on how many services they provide. I’ve been living in Jamaica Plain with my sister and her dog Hubble.
Robbie Zielinski ’19 shares: I am excited to be starting a PhD in Biostatistics at Brown University this fall. In the meantime I am focusing on wrapping up the Parkinson’s disease research project I am working on at the University of Rochester.
Margaret Chien ’20 shares: I’ve been working at Deloitte as an analyst for the Government and Public Services branch. I support a project for the Center of Medicare and Medicaid Services and have been learning about health innovation and data sharing for primary care. In non-statistics or work related news, I’ve taken up painting again!
Oliver Baldwin-Edwards ’21 shares: I’m moving to San Francisco to begin a job as a software engineer for Spatial Informatics Group, an environmental think-tank. I’ll be working on a web application that helps to track and predict the spread of wildfires in California.
Andrea Boskovic ’21 reports: While studying remotely this year, I applied to Statistics PhD Programs. I’m very excited to be starting my Statistics PhD at the University of Washington this fall. It’ll be interesting to move from the East Coast to the West Coast during a pandemic, to say the least! I’ve also received an NDSEG Fellowship, which will fund my research for the first three years of my PhD.
Maria-Cristiana (Kitty) Gîrjău ’21 reports: This summer, I will be working as a fellow for the Data Science for Social Good project at the University of Warwick, after which I will begin my PhD studies in Statistics at Columbia University.
Peter (Keon) Kang ’21 writes: I’m excited to be starting a new position as an analyst in government & public services at Deloitte in Sacramento, CA. It’s been a challenging and hectic year but I’m looking forward to the opportunity to use my skills in the workforce.
Emily Lachtara ’21 shares: I am excited to begin my work at Mass General Hospital as a Bioinformatics Analyst in June! I will be working in a Harvard Medical School research lab looking at the genomic alterations that drive the onset of cancer as well as resistance to cancer-related therapies.
Konstantin Larin ’21 writes: I’m happy to say that I will be starting my PhD in Statistics at Rice University this fall. I’m very excited to continue my study of Statistics at a higher level, although I will miss Amherst and New England.
Sabir Meah ’21 writes: I will be starting in the MS Biostatistics program at the University of Michigan School of Public Health next year. I’m very excited to begin my graduate education in biostatistics, along with conducting research and/or teaching as a part of my funding.
Arnav Parikh ’21 shares: This past year, I completed writing a thesis in Economics in which, using a large cross sectional data set, I assessed the effectiveness of affirmative action in India using fertility patterns. The skills I learnt during the Statistics major were incredibly helpful during the research process. After graduation, I will be working at Wesleyan University’s endowment.
Enoch Shin ’21 announces: I’ve accepted a full-time offer as an analyst at Cornerstone Research, beginning this fall in Los Angeles. I expect to continue my use of R while gaining experience in collecting and analyzing quantitative evidence for legal disputes in the business world. I hope that this will be a good foundation for whatever I pursue next. Congratulations to my peers in the class of 2021!
Maggie Wu ’22 writes: I was accepted into the cybersecurity REU at Penn State for this summer. The research projects are about fake news detection and social media, which is exactly the direction I want to take my thesis.
Have other news you’d like to share? Please send it along. We’d love to hear about it.
Best wishes at this challenging time.
Last updated June 10, 2021
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