2021 Alumni Notes 2011-2012
Jenna Colavincenzo Carlson
I finished my Ph.D. in biostats in 2017, did a year as a postdoc with the Human Genetics Department, and am now faculty at the University of Pittsburgh. When I graduated nine years ago (how has it been that long already?!), I didn’t think that I would still be here in Pennsylvania, but we have definitely put down roots here. But I absolutely love it here — in the past few years, we’ve purchased a house and grown our family (Amelia, born Dec. 2019).
I have been living in Fort Collins, Colorado, with my partner, Jonathan, for a year and a half now. We were glad to get out of the big city before COVID hit and have enjoyed the plethora of rock climbing, hiking, biking and river sports available to us here. I am still working remotely for the same data science consulting firm, though we have since been acquired by a multinational French company called Atos. Currently I am working for a health insurer to develop a cost estimator tool for members to better predict their medical costs which has been an interesting “big data” problem. I am really looking forward to the spring so I can begin gardening and spending more time outside again!
I’m still living in San Diego. At this point I believe I will be a “lifer” down here. There are an incredible number of opportunities for a statistician down here in the biomedical field. I just jumped from being a biostatistician on a team of almost 40 in the CRO industry to being the sole in-house biostatistician/data scientist at Exagen, which specializes in autoimmune disorder diagnostics. As I write this, it is my first week at the new job, and I expect it to be an exciting experience. Other than that, living the pandemic life. Rec pools are incredibly hard to get a lane reservation, so I’ve been forced to take up ocean water swimming.
On Feb. 2, 2021, my wife and I brought our first son into the world, Graham Matthew Herrington! The delivery was a wild emotional ride, but everyone is here healthy and safe. Graham already has two baby math books, ABCs of math and first 100 math words. Hopefully he will develop a liking for math just like his parents. Unfortunately I have yet to find a baby statistics book that I like; maybe one of the department professors can write one. My wife and I are deeply in love with Graham and look forward to the many memories we will make with him.
It doesn’t seem so long ago that I graduated from Cal Poly’s statistics program in a class of only three people, and I distinctly remember finishing STAT 427 with middling scores wondering “will I ever actually use this in real life?”
It turns out however that shortly after graduating, I was fortunate enough to take part in a wave of data people flooding the video game market space. As the game industry matured – as have I – and as the industry became more data-driven and adapted more sophisticated methods and technologies, it has been my privilege to watch the industry change in real time.
Now I head up the data effort at Kolibri Games GmbH, a plucky young gaming startup in Berlin, Germany, where I had the opportunity of seeing it through a major acquisition to join the Ubisoft family of studios. I can say with confidence that this is in no small part due to the things I learned at the Statistics Department at Cal Poly. I use those skills every day; and yes, I do include those distributional formulas we had to prove in STAT 427.