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What Does Terry Katz Like to Do When He Is Not Being a Statistician?

1 October 2017 No Comment
This column focuses on what statisticians do when they are not being statisticians. If you would like to share your pastime with readers, please email Megan Murphy, Amstat News managing editor.
Terry Katz (wearing hat) stands next to Clifton Truman Daniel, the oldest grandson of President Harry Truman, in front of the Truman home in Independence, Missouri.

Terry Katz (wearing hat) stands next to Clifton Truman Daniel, the oldest grandson of President Harry Truman, in front of the Truman home in Independence, Missouri.

Who are you, and what is your statistics position?

I am Terry Katz, and my current role is director, head of global data management and statistics at Merck Animal Health, supporting worldwide veterinary clinical trials for pharmaceuticals and vaccines. My previous biometrics leadership roles were at ImClone Systems, PRA International, and Schering-Plough. I am the current chair of DIA’s Good Clinical Practice–Quality Assurance Community, an ASQ-Certified Quality Engineer and Six Sigma Green Belt, and an ASA PStat.

Tell us about what you like to do for fun when you are not being a statistician.

My activities outside of work are varied, including serving as a Boy Scouts leader, high-school band volunteer, and, formerly, soccer coach. But an unusual hobby I share with my family is visiting presidential homes. My count is 31 homes from 22 presidents. These include the homes of the five presidents who were founding fathers and all eight homes in Virginia. Presidential homes visited in 2016 include Andrew Johnson’s (Tennessee), Harry Truman’s (Missouri), Theodore Roosevelt’s (New York), and (outside only) Barack Obama’s (Illinois).

What drew you to this hobby, and what keeps you interested?

My family likes to visit national parks, and many of the presidential homes are part of the parks system. When my oldest child was six months old, I carried him in a backpack around Mount Vernon, home of President Washington. We added president’s homes as a stop during driving vacations and crayoned in a presidential homes coloring book. My son took an interest in presidential trivia, and we purchased presidential informational place mats. Most recently, we acquired a presidential home coffee table book.

It is amazing to contrast the lifestyle of rich presidents with multiple large homes (e.g., Thomas Jefferson with Monticello and Poplar Forest) with those who started in a modest home (e.g., Grover Cleveland and Andrew Johnson). Many of the large properties were given grand names such as Berkeley Plantation (William Harrison) and Sherwood Forest (John Tyler, which is still occupied by his descendants). Most of these homes are open for visitation, and modern technology has added 24/7 virtual tours via the internet. Some houses are still private, including those occupied by living former presidents (e.g., George H.W. Bush). New homes are added (e.g., Obama’s new home in Washington, DC), and new elections also add to the queue (e.g., Donald Trump). The homes are sometimes connected to a nearby presidential library (e.g., Harry Truman and Franklin D. Roosevelt), where the history of the president’s life and accomplishments can be explored.

While no statistician has been elected president, some who used mathematics are well known (e.g., Washington as a surveyor and Jefferson as an architect). President James Garfield, whose Ohio home and log cabin birthplace are on my list to visit, is the only president with an original mathematical proof—on the Pythagorean theory—published in The New England Journal of Education, Vol. 3, No. 14.

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