2021 Alumni Notes 1993-95
Although it’s been 25 years, my time at Cal Poly still doesn’t seem that long ago. I still remember Professor Devore telling me that he would be very disappointed in me if I did anything but go to graduate school. I wouldn’t have considered getting a Ph.D. if he hadn’t said so… and I didn’t want to disappoint Professor Devore. So now I’m professor and chair of the Department of Criminology and professor of statistics at the University of Pennsylvania. It was a long walk to get here.
Over the years I have developed several statistical methods for better understanding crime and the justice system, and now I am as much a criminologist as a statistician. One of the fun aspects of being a statistician is that every statistician seems to adopt a second field and develop deep expertise in that companion field. For me it was crime and justice. I have several research projects going in Philadelphia, partnering with the Philly district attorney on studying progressive prosecution, partnering with Philly Police Department (PD) on how information technology can improve policing, and working with Philly’s Office of Violence Prevention to reduce gun violence.
At the same time, I’m involved in several of the police oversight efforts for Baltimore PD, Maricopa County Sheriff, Chicago PD and most recently Minneapolis PD. It’s been great to see the intense public interest in justice system reform, and I’m really invested in putting data analysis and statistics to work to solve problems. Other than work, my wife and I have two girls (13 and 15), two cats (skinny and chunky) and one new pandemic parrot.
I can’t believe it has been 21 years that I have been working at the University of Southern California (USC) and even longer since I graduated from Cal Poly. This semester I am teaching a course to graduate students on the design and analysis of clinical trials. I continue to work with the Children’s Oncology Group as the lead statistician for the Acute Myelogenous Leukemia Committee and as group statistician overseeing all of the statisticians. My wife and I had a wonderful trip to SLO a few months back. Our two sons are attending USC, well, Zooming their USC classes now.
I just turned 50 during the pandemic, which is also over 27 years since I graduated from Cal Poly. Instead of thinking about the next big career move, retirement thoughts are starting to creep into my head. However, that doesn’t stop me from taking a risk (more calculated) or thinking about what’s fulfilling for the soul and not the bank account. Priorities shift, but happiness is what counts.
These days I am the head of analytic product management at Experian— the largest credit bureau in the USA. My group develops and productizes analytic solutions that banks, telecommunications, cable, energy, utility and any company that utilizes credit bureau information use to help their customers, while maximizing profit. We think of innovative products that can be used for the future as well as what’s relevant for future generations.
It’s a lot of fun creating successful and profitable products. It’s also a lot of fun creating products that ultimately fail. Why? It’s a sure-fire way to improve and gain knowledge ... just don’t do the same mistake twice!
The pandemic has caused an acceleration of all things digital, in which the current generation is an expert. Expect most things in the future will be done digitally and future customer service will be very different from even a year ago. So forgive us Generation X folks who are still understanding it.
However the current Generation Y or Z can learn from us “X-ers” during these times, as we were raised to be largely independent and have no trouble staying home and coming up with things to do. It’s a skill set we had to learn as teenagers.
Mask up, everyone, irrespective of your political ideology. These are exciting times for statisticians and anyone analytically inclined. Predicting the future with confidence and with limited data was never more important and exciting.
Yes, that’s me with my mask of me wearing a mask. See, you can find fun things during a pandemic.