Home » A Statistician's Life, Celebrating Women in Statistics

Karen Bandeen-Roche

1 March 2019 1,582 views No Comment

Frank Hurley and Catharine Dorrier Professor and Chair, Department of Biostatistics, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Educational Background:
BS, Mathematics, Andrews University
PhD, Operations Research and Industrial Engineering, Cornell University

About Karen
I spent a happy childhood growing up in Brinklow, Maryland, together with two brothers and assorted poodles, cats, ponies, and a few other creatures—11 animals at once at our height! To this day, interactions with the animal world are among my greatest joys.

My father was an atmospheric physicist. He often brought home reams of 1970s-era computer paper that my younger brother would transform into “sculptures” of a sort. I was fascinated by the satellite data that blanketed the obverse sides of the pages, inspired by my dad’s life as a NASA scientist, and fantastically supported by my dad in my scientific interests, even though it was a new thought for a man of his generation to consider his daughter (rather than his sons) would pursue these.

I studied mathematics and then applied mathematics in college and graduate school. Two experiences pushed me into statistics/data science. The first was an undergraduate honors project in which I implemented a questionnaire on community attitudes regarding parochial education—including conducting all the interviews—and then analyzed and reported the resulting data. The second was my exposure to statistics at Cornell, which interested me far more than the other aspects of operations research. I was privileged to complete a dissertation under the fabulous mentorship of David Ruppert and then go straight on to Johns Hopkins Biostatistics, where I have been ever since.

I have had the joy of pursuing many interests in my career, including statistical methods development, collaborative science, education and mentoring, and leadership. Through this process, I have evolved into a hybrid scientist—roughly equal parts statistician and gerontologist. My greatest joys and proudest accomplishments have been to foster trainees and more junior colleagues into careers they find personally rewarding and that positively affect people around the world.

I co-founded and long directed a National Institutes of Health (NIH)–funded training program in the epidemiology and biostatistics of aging. We have graduated dozens of trainees who are pursuing productive careers discovering how to promote longer health in people’s lives—through both biostatistical and epidemiological expertise.

I also have had the privilege of mentoring faculty from brand-new status into mid- and senior-level leaders through my roles as department chair, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Older Americans Independence Center, and leader of research programs—most recently an NIH contract to characterize and, ultimately, promote resilience to stressors in older adults.

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