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Boston Chapter Hosts Statistics Career Day 2011

1 December 2011 No Comment
Miriam Chernoff, Lisa Mukherjee, Lijuan Deng, and Sharon Hessney, Statistics Career Day Organizers
    Students listen while Mark Glickman covers the application of statistics in sports and presents how to measure playing strength in games and sports with an illustration from basketball.

    Students listen while Mark Glickman covers the application of statistics in sports and presents how to measure playing strength in games and sports with an illustration from basketball.

    Statistics Career Day was held on March 12 at the University of Massachusetts Boston Campus Center. This event was planned to nurture interest in statistics and its use in fields such as public health, finance, sports, and marketing, as well as to inform students how to prepare for a career in statistics. Accordingly, the day was planned with a keynote session, panel discussion with statisticians, and panel discussion with graduate students and young professionals. The event was organized to target students from AP Statistics classes.

    Students and teachers from several schools—John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science, English High, Brighton High, Boston Latin, Buckingham Browne and Nichols—participated. Three keynote speakers—Lisa Sullivan and Mark Glickman from Boston University and Arnold Barnett from Massachusetts Institute of Technology—started off the day. Sullivan gave an introduction to the application of statistics in health care and emphasized the high demand for statisticians. Glickman covered application in sports and presented how to measure playing strength in games and sports with an illustration from basketball. Barnett presented statistical antics in the media. He provided examples in which comparison can be misleading and the data collected may not actually answer the question. By using examples, he stressed that statisticians have to be vigilant regarding where data come from and whether the data presented will answer the question.

    The second session with statisticians included a short presentation, followed by a panel discussion. The diverse group of presenters in this session showed application of statistics in their respective areas: Joe Blitzstein of Harvard University presented bias and variance in the statistics of social media networks; Matt Calder of LightKeeper Advisors discussed the role of statisticians on Wall Street; Steven Correia of the Massachusetts division of Marine Fisheries presented on fisheries management, illustrating with a study of horseshoe crabs; Joe Massaro of Boston University presented on statistics and statistical careers in clinical trials; and Kathy Monti of Rho, Inc. ended with a synopsis of the variety of projects a statistician can work on based on her experience working on projects as varied as building a better Twinkie to drug studies involving various diseases.

    The students were engaged, asking many questions. They were curious about planning for a career in statistics and gained insight from a graduating student—Alane Izu, Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health—and young professional—Sachiko Miyahara, Harvard School of Public Health—in the second panel discussion.

    A survey requesting student feedback indicated they enjoyed the event. Some of their responses follow:

    • “I liked the variety of topics that were covered.”
    • “I liked the many presentations that give a different application of statistics to a different field.”
    • “I really liked the presentations. I especially liked the [panel] with the two graduate students. It was really nice to listen to their personal thoughts and experiences.”
    • “What I liked the most about the program was how they were able to explain [that] statistics is all around us.”

    The chapter plans to conduct similar events in the future targeting AP Mathematics and AP Statistics students from the greater Boston area.

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