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My ASA Story: Julia Schedler, Assistant Professor

1 March 2024 No Comment

Schedler (right) with her former adviser, 2022 ASA President Katherine Ensor

Throughout my career as a statistician, members of the ASA have always been there to guide me in my journey and contributed to many full-circle moments.

My statistics journey began in my junior year of high school when I took AP Statistics. Luckily, I had a skilled and inspiring teacher, Christine Drago. As a senior, I was her assistant and she introduced me to meta-analyses and encouraged me to apply to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, to study statistics. She was aware of the statistics department because of an INSPIRE workshop for AP Statistics teacher training, which I recently discovered was partly sponsored by the American Statistical Association.

At Cal Poly, I entered as a statistics major and soon added math as a double major. Some of my peers went to the Joint Statistical Meetings, which was the first time I became aware of the ASA. Everyone I knew who went had a blast and got a ton out of the experience, so I was eager to see what it was all about.

However, I did not join the ASA officially until JSM 2019 in Denver, when I was nearing the end of my PhD program in statistics at Rice University. I thoroughly enjoyed being around so many statisticians, hearing about the variety of problems they work on, and sharing my work with them. 

Around the time I defended my PhD in late 2019, I started a position in the educational technology industry at zyBooks, a start-up Wiley had recently acquired. As a statistics content developer, the first project I worked on was a digital, interactive adaptation of the delightful simulation-based textbook Introduction to Statistical Inference. This project was a full-circle moment for me, as Beth Chance—one of the authors—taught the workshop my high-school teacher took back in 2003. And I had taken introductory statistics with some of the other authors! 

During my time at zyBooks, I attended two ASA conferences. I presented some of my dissertation work virtually at the 2020 Symposium on Data Science and Statistics. In 2022, I was promoted to statistics content lead and attended JSM 2022 to learn as much as possible about what new and exciting approaches educators were taking in the classroom. I also attended my first section business meeting for the Statistics and Data Science Education Section, which gave me a new appreciation for how much work goes into initiatives like the Guidelines for Assessment and Instruction in Statistics Education Report.

When my time at zyBooks/Wiley ended, I thought back to JSM and SDSS and how part of me missed the research side of statistics. I contacted my former adviser, 2022 ASA President Katherine Ensor, and she became the driving force behind my return to research. I attended SDSS in 2023 to present our joint work with another of her students. By then, I had returned to Rice University as a research scientist for Houston Wastewater Epidemiology, a Center for Disease Control and Prevention National Wastewater Surveillance System Center of Excellence. 

Although happy with my position, my fiancé was looking for a job in the fall of 2023, so I decided to make strategic applications to tenure-track faculty positions. I contacted Chance for a recommendation letter regarding our collaboration while I was at zyBooks. She encouraged me to apply for the tenure-track assistant professor position at Cal Poly, which I recently accepted.

I am so grateful for the ASA members who have helped me personalize and focus my goals as a statistician and facilitated many satisfying full-circle moments in my career. I plan to do the same for my future students at Cal Poly, as well as encourage them to get involved in the ASA much sooner than I did.

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