Home » A Statistician's Life, Celebrating Black History Month

Donald Martin

1 February 2021 1,260 views No Comment

Donald Martin

Associate Professor, Department of Statistics, North Carolina State University

PhD, MA, and BS, Mathematical Statistics, University of Maryland

Donald Martin was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. Math was always his favorite subject in school. During the early elementary school years, his father taught him math he didn’t see in school until a few years later, and that built his confidence.

In high school, the head of the math department told Martin he wouldn’t make it in college without taking classes like trigonometry and physics in the 12th grade. While his advice was sound, being told he wouldn’t be successful made Martin more determined. He finished high school after completing the 11th grade and headed to the University of Maryland, College Park. Admittedly, Martin was behind when entering college, but survived. He desired to be a statistician, believing it must be similar to keeping statistics for the Baltimore Orioles. He soon found out he was wrong!

One summer as an undergraduate, Martin worked as a shipbuilder in Baltimore. He regularly worked 60 or more per week. The work was hard, and he said they were “treated like dogs.” To avoid that type of career, Martin decided to apply himself to his studies when he returned to school.

Martin earned a BS in mathematics in 1982, an MA in 1987, and a PhD in 1990 in mathematical statistics, all from the University of Maryland, College Park. He worked as a mathematical statistician at the Department of Energy from 1990 to 1994. From 1994 to 2007, he was a faculty member of the mathematics department at Howard University in Washington, DC. From 2000 to 2007, Martin also worked at the US Census Bureau in the Time Series Research Group. His wife of 28 years, Antoinette; sons, Donald and Johnathan (now 20 and 17 years old, respectively); and he moved to North Carolina in 2007, when he began his tenure in the department of statistics at North Carolina State University.

Martin is especially grateful to Benjamin Kedem of the University of Maryland, who was his dissertation adviser. Early in his graduate school years, Kedem advised Martin to quit his full-time job in the accounts payable department on campus to be Kedem’s research assistant. This allowed Martin more time to devote to his studies. Kedem has been Martin’s mentor and friend ever since. Eric Slud, who taught at least five of Martin’s undergraduate and graduate classes, is also a special mentor and friend. Martin is also grateful for the guidance of David Findley and William Bell of the US Census Bureau.

Martin was one of four African Americans in the US to earn a PhD in mathematics in 1990. He has received three National Science Foundation research grants. One focus of his research is efficient computation of distributions of patterns in Markovian sequences. Martin received the College of Sciences Faculty Diversity Professional Development Award in 2018 and multiple Thank-a-Teacher awards. However, Martin believes anything he has done pales in comparison to the fact that Jesus loves him and died for him. Martin gives all kudos to him.

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