Robert Starbuck became aware of the statistics field when he was an undergraduate student at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Here, he tells the story of his journey from an undergraduate student to a statistician working in the pharmaceutical industry.
It is out of the ordinary for undergraduate social science students to receive statistical consulting on academic research projects. Furthermore, it is unusual for the consultants to be undergraduate statistics students. This past academic year, however, both opportunities came together at St. Olaf College.
The Department of Statistics at the University of Michigan turned 40 years old. To celebrate, faculty and students attended a reception at the Joint Statistical Meetings in Washington, DC, and a half-day symposium in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Statistics, in a nutshell, is a discipline that studies the best ways of dealing with randomness, or more precisely and broadly, variation. As human beings, we tend to love information, but we hate uncertainty—especially when we need to make decisions. Information and uncertainty, however, are actually two sides of the same coin.
At some point, most statistics students must learn how to communicate scientific findings. It is hoped that they are already comfortable with the formulaic structure of a scientific article: introduction, methods, results, and conclusion. The scientific community dictates this gross structure because it allows readers to immediately begin understanding the content, without first having to understand the paper’s organization. Little flexibility is allowed in the organization; however, there are fewer conventions below the structural outline, and students should recognize they have some latitude and adopt a style that improves the quality of their manuscripts.
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