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

Jesse Chittams

1 February 2021 760 views No Comment

Jesse Chittams

Managing Director, Biostatistics Consulting Unit, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing

MA, Mathematics and Statistics, University of Maryland
BS, Plant Science, University of Maryland

Jesse Chittams grew up with three brothers and four sisters in Lincoln, Maryland, a predominately Black working-class neighborhood near Washington, DC. His parents provided a strong nurturing environment in which the importance of education was emphasized.

After graduating with an undergraduate degree in plant science, Chittams found a job as a laboratory technician at the US Department of Agriculture. One of his first tasks was to perform a data analysis using SAS. It was love at first sight, and he immediately registered for classes to pursue an advanced degree in statistics.

Chittams joined the University of Pennsylvania once completing his graduate studies in mathematical statistics from the University of Maryland. There, he established and directed the Biostatistical Analysis Center in 2000, and then went on to establish and direct the statistical consulting services at Drexel University in 2010. Realizing the importance of addressing the disparity issue for people of color within the statistics field, Chittams not only has been an active member of the ASA Committee on Minorities in Statistics but also served as chair and co-chair.

Chittams takes the greatest pride in his work introducing statistics to the minority community, even though he is proud of the level of excellence and professionalism he established and maintained at the statistical consulting centers at Penn and Drexel. Having had the opportunity to help train and mentor more than 100 young professionals throughout his 30-year career in statistics, he has had many proud moments. However, perhaps his proudest moment came a few weeks ago when he received a phone call from an African-American professional whom he mentored more than 20 years ago through a nonprofit—Great Young Society II—Chittams helped establish. The now professional was an at-risk, inner-city teenager attending a poor-performing public high school in Philadelphia. After participating in Great Young Society II, he went on to college and now holds a director position within his current place of employment. He mentioned to Chittams that his destiny was shaped by the role models he met through the Great Young Society II. While Chittams is pleased with the successes of all of the lives he has touched professionally, he is especially proud of the many doors he has helped open for dozens of deserving professionals of color.

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