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Randi Garcia

1 March 2020 One Comment

Randi Garcia
Smith College

Educational Background
Accredited Professional Statistician™
PhD, University of Connecticut
MS, University of Connecticut
BA, University of California, Los Angeles

Randi Garcia grew up in Hayward, California, a city in the East San Francisco Bay Area, south of Oakland. Her parents did not attend college, but education was important to them, especially her mom. In grade school and high school, Garcia did well in math, but struggled a bit with reading and English. She ended up getting into the University of California, Los Angeles, where she decided to study psychology and women’s studies. At the time, majoring in math seemed impossible because she assumed math would be too hard at the college level, even though math had always seemed like her strength. Garcia was quickly introduced to statistics and data analysis via psychology, however, and was able to analyze her own data from experimental studies she designed. By the time she was a senior, she was taking mainly computer science and advanced statistics courses—her love for math made a big comeback, and this time she could apply it to a domain she loved with statistics.

Loving research, Garcia decided to earn a PhD in either quantitative psychology or social psychology. If she went the social psychology route, she knew she would want deeper training in statistics, so she earned a master’s degree in statistics and a doctorate in social psychology at the University of Connecticut. Earning this MS degree while doing her PhD work was one of the biggest accomplishments of her life. Given that she took no math courses while an undergraduate, she went back and completed the calculus sequence and linear algebra in preparation for her graduate coursework in statistics. This experience showed her it is never too late to go for what you want.

Garcia’s graduate research in psychology focused on developing models for investigating group composition and diversity in groups and dyads. At UConn, she also found her love of teaching through being a teaching assistant for research methods on statistics. She had a few other academic positions after graduate school, and then she found her dream job at Smith College, where she teaches courses in both statistical and data sciences (SDS) and psychology.

Teaching has become one of Garcia’s great passions. With such an amazing group of ambitious, conscientious, intelligent people as students, she knows she needs to rise to the challenge and show up for them every day. Smithies are serious about their education, and their dedication keeps Garcia inspired to provide them guidance through that education. She also feels particularly inspired by teaching statistics and data science at a women’s college at this point in history. She sees the world changing rapidly with data models increasingly being incorporated into our daily lives and thinks it’s crucial for Smithies to be at the table discussing the ethics of these models. Garcia was recently honored with a 2019 Sherrerd Prize for distinguished teaching, an accomplishment she feels deeply proud of.

At Smith, Garcia’s current research focuses on how status and power within people’s daily interactions work to reproduce larger social inequalities. Using quantitative methods, her research explores interpersonal interactions and relationships among people with different social group identities in various contexts. These contexts include sexual objectification among the newly acquainted, racial bias in dyadic and group interactions, and inequality in household labor.

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One Comment »

  • Phyllis L said:

    I saw a brief reference to “Dr.” Garcia (let’s use the honorific!) in my linked-in page, and clicked here to get more info. I hope whoever is responsible for this post and the one from Smith College’s linked-in reference learn something here: put a link to published work by this professor–I’m very interested and wanted to read about her ideas about use of data models, in general, but also in social work/psychology. But here I am, having looked for links in 2 places apparently celebrating her accomplishments, and I’m not finding any references. I’ll find the info, but isn’t it kind of standard to include that in any kind of profile being put forward about your graduates/professors? Just Saying…

    Phyllis L, Smith SSW 1998