Faculty Updates 2016
Statistics faculty have traveled the world and analyzed the data on everything from bullying of LGBT students to individual-level marketing analytics. Find out what they've been up to below.
This past year I’ve continued my consulting work with the Mustang Success Center tracking students on academic probation and with the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education looking at bullying of LGBT students and possible preventive measures. I’ve also been trying to beef up my Python skills (although I still think R is way better). On the personal side, this was a summer of weddings — I attended four this year, including three for my Cal Poly colleagues. The farthest away, though, was a wedding in Cleveland, a much nicer city than I had imagined. Beth Chance and I were seated at the stat nerd table.
The last two years have held some great travel experiences for me and my family — including London over spring break and three trips to Ohio this summer — but the ultimate was an around-the-world trip with stops in Hong Kong, India and Switzerland last summer. My son Ben switched to Teach Elementary, and we went on our first real ski trip last year. Now we are just waiting for new snow this winter. I supervised three research students this summer, and we continue to data clean. I'm also excited to report that my article with Jimmy Wong (B.S., 2015) should be appearing in the Journal of Statistics Education this fall.
This fall will be my third quarter as a lecturer at Cal Poly. I have bounced around introductory classes and am now teaching STAT 252. I am interested in working toward becoming an AP Statistics test grader in the spring. Over the summer, I completed my first ever half-ironman in Lake Tahoe, where I took home first place in my age group. There were only two people in my age group, but hey, I'll take it.
The biggest event for me this year was my spring sabbatical spent entirely overseas. Along with my wife and two daughters, I was in Japan from April to the beginning of July. Our time was split between my wife's home prefecture of Yamaguchi and Tokyo. For the month of June, I served as foreign visiting researcher at the Institute of Statistical Mathematics (ISM) in Tokyo. I presented seminars at ISM, Shiga University, Rikkyo University, Waseda University and Tokyo SAS Institute. I also had the honor of giving a guest lecture on a topic from categorical data analysis to a mathematical statistics class at Waseda University.
One of the highlights of the sabbatical was the opportunity to meet with core members of the Japanese Inter-university Network for Statistical Education (JINSE). JINSE will be organizing the upcoming 2018 International Conference on Teaching Statistics (ICOTS) in Kyoto, Japan. I had the privilege of meeting many new researchers, scholars and educators, and I'm looking forward to keeping in contact with them for possible future collaborations.
I have been busy over the last couple of years since returning from my leave at Wells Fargo. I worked with students on a project to assess the accuracy of Starmine's Predicted Earnings Surprises and how these predictions affect stock prices. I also collaborated with Cal Poly alumni from Marketing Evolution on individual-level marketing analytics models, taught some data science courses for Berkely's Masters of Informatics in Data Science program, developed a course on data visualization and storytelling for the Business Analytics Program for Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business, returned to Wells Fargo as a consultant, and got married. Wowsers, I feel tired from reading all of that.
It's been an eventful two years here teaching in the Statistics Department at Cal Poly. I'm elated to continue teaching many of our courses in SAS and R and take special pride in being able to work more SQL into those courses. I've enjoyed accompanying our students to the UCLA DataFest competition, SAS Global Forum and the Western Users of SAS Software conference. I also went on my very first scuba dive this past summer in Catalina. I'm looking forward to upcoming trips to Bali and Europe, along with conferences in Orlando and Baltimore.
I’m in my second year of lecturing for the Statistics Department, teaching business statistics while managing my family’s businesses with my wife Dana and working on new projects of our own. In my personal life, my wife and I celebrated our 10-year wedding anniversary in September. We enjoy living in our tiny one-bedroom house near the vineyards in Edna Valley with our Catahoula hound dogs Rawlee and Edna. I will also be performing for my third year in the Civic Ballet's performance of The Nutcracker at the Performing Arts Center in December. Academically, I have been investing a lot of my time learning about deep learning and software engineering.
My latest research interest is looking into the metrics of bicycle safety, i.e., how to fairly compare communities in terms of their rate of injury/mortality for bicyclists. This has been fun as it has allowed me to play around with R's GIS capabilities. Recreationally, I'm still mountain biking and surfing when I'm not injured from mountain biking or surfing.
Professionally, I have been enjoying teaching numerous STAT 217 sections and most recently STAT 312. I have been progressively trying to implement more software and effective visual representation in my courses. Personally, I have been spending the majority of my time exploring California with my one-year-old pit/boxer mix puppy, Cooper. I continue to play many sports, mainly soccer and racquetball. Also I have been on a quest to make the perfect homemade acai bowl — I'm almost there!
This year was my 19th (how did that happen?) at the City of Hope working as a biostatistician and lead of the Data Mining Group. I also continue to enjoy teaching classes and advising student research at Cal Poly. In addition, I took on the role of co-chair — with Chelsea Loomis Lofland — of the Western Users of SAS Software Annual Conference that took place this past September in San Francisco. Outside of work, I've gotten back to hiking regularly and enjoying spur of the moment day trips to local destinations. In the coming year we're planning family trips to Sedona, Ariz., and Banff, Canada.
I joined the Statistics Department in 2015, and I am so glad that I did. This past year I have had the opportunity to teach several courses (217, 330 and 331), work with undergraduates on senior projects (Currently one senior is researching a spatial model for the distribution of a neglected tropical disease.), and make connections with other faculty in kinesiology and nutrition to assist with their grant proposals. On the personal side, my daughter is now a year old and walking; my husband and I joined a coed soccer team, and I started biking to work. It’s been a great first year on the Central Coast.
Many of my recent activities have involved research and curriculum development on topics in probability. In spring 2016 I taught a new course (STAT 405) on probability and stochastic processes, which was a lot of fun for me and I hope for the students, too. At the 2016 Joint Statistical Meetings in Chicago I gave a presentation on classroom activities relating to recent research on the hot hand in basketball (It does exist!). Dennis Sun and I are developing Symbulate, a Python package that provides a user-friendly framework for conducting simulations involving probability models. On a personal note, our fifth child, Anna, was born in December 2015. Will she be the last one? I guess you'll have to wait for the next newsletter to find out.
I'm happy to begin the first year of my second three-year term as department chair. I've been enjoying teaching our introductory course in probability and simulation. Outside of Cal Poly, I've been conducting workshops on teaching introductory statistics with simulation-based inference, interviewing statistics educators for the Journal of Statistics Education, and organizing the program for the U.S. Conference on Teaching Statistics. On the personal side, my wife Eileen and I traveled to Egypt in 2015, and we enjoy spoiling our eight-year-old cat named Puti. My fantasy baseball, football and golf teams generally fail to live up to the potential suggested by their name, the Domestic Shorthairs.
Highlights from this past year included working with six wonderful statistics majors on projects, collaborating and publishing with a faculty member from the Agribusiness Department, and traveling to Seattle — one of my favorite cities in the U.S. — to present at and attend the Joint Mathematics Meetings in January, which was a lot of fun. I took over as editor of the Journal of Statistics Education in September 2015 and have overseen the successful publication of two issues.
On a personal note, my husband and I traveled to India in summer 2015, and he saw the Taj Mahal for the first time and was awestruck by it. This summer’s highlight, however, outdid that. Our son, James Kaushik Sherman, was born in August 2016.
It's been so exciting to see our Data Science Minor get up and running. While I'm not involved in teaching our core data classes, I helped develop the program and have been advising eager students since its inception. I've really enjoyed the cross-campus collaboration with computer science, and I know our students have also really enjoyed seeing some varied perspectives. In addition to the curriculum work, I've been working with faculty in kinesiology and nutrition to study healthy pregnancies in two very different populations: obese/overweight pregnant women in the U.S. and malnourished pregnant women in Malawi. It's sort of odd that with one collaborator we're trying to prevent excessive weight gain and with my other collaborator we're trying to increase weight gain.
On a more personal note, my oldest son, Ganden, is now starting to look at colleges. Being on the other side of college tours is very strange.
When starting in the Statistics Department at Cal Poly in 2014, I was appointed introductory statistics courses for business majors, which turned out to be a great way for me to hone my teaching skills as well as my own understanding of the subject matter. In the last year I have been given the opportunity to teach a different type of statistics class here at Cal Poly that is specifically designed for engineers. Although this experience has had its challenges, it has been extremely rewarding. Understanding how varying majors think about topics differently from others has helped sharpen my skills in teaching a variety of subjects.
On a more personal note, I am very excited to have joined forces with a bioacoustician in Moss Landing studying marine mammal acoustics. I am hopeful that this research will flourish and become an integrated part of Cal Poly and the work that I do here.
My wife and I have done a lot of traveling this past year. In the fall we went to London and Paris. In the winter we traveled to Yuma to visit and golf with a former faculty member, Dennis O’Brien, and also took a cruise to Mexico. In the spring we flew to Maui, visited Lake Tahoe, attended my wife’s 50th high school reunion in L.A., and took the obligatory trip to Disneyland. During the summer we took a second trip to Tahoe and also attended a five day golf school near Solvang (with limited results).
I continue to conduct advanced placement statistics workshops in places like Houston, Texas; Bozeman, Mont.; Little Rock, Ark.; and Hot Springs, Ark., and to travel to Kansas City with several other faculty members to grade the AP Statistics exam. I still play racquetball and golf, take the occasional hike, attend numerous plays and concerts, and have season tickets to the Poly football and basketball games.
I continue to enjoy the many statistics students I get to know in STAT 421 Survey Research and STAT 465 Statistical Consulting. For the past several years we have offered two sections of STAT 465, meaning we get to see a lot of consulting clients. The department has also created a sophomore level course in Statistical Communication, STAT 365, which will focus on improving a student's written communication of statistical ideas. That should be fun! Our statistical consulting service will soon be expanding, and we hope to include even more statistics students in this collaborative work.
If you are considering attending the Joint Statistical Meetings in Baltimore in summer 2017, perhaps you would like to sign up for my professional skills development short course on effective collaboration. On a personal note, my husband and I are now officially empty nesters as both of our sons are in college, which gives us a good reason to visit them in the Bay Area and L.A. It also leaves more time for college football games, wine events and dinners out with friends and colleagues. So, pretty great!
Last year, I began a leave of absence from Cal Poly and took a position at Ursinus College in Pennsylvania so that my wife, Elisha, could begin her graduate studies at Villanova University. This year, it was with great sadness that I officially resigned from Cal Poly. Elisha transitioned from the master's to the new doctoral program in theology at Villanova, so it became clear that we would not be returning soon.
However, we have been doing very well in the Philadelphia area. I began a productive collaboration with a faculty member at Temple University. Also, this past summer, I participated in my first AP Reading, and it was great to reconnect with several members of the Cal Poly Statistics Department there. I look forward to continuing my participation in the reading and seeing many of you there each year.
I have been fully retired from teaching at Cal Poly since 2011, and fully retired from teaching a summer course in New York City since 2014. It feels good! I am still dabbling in textbook writing. Most recently, I assisted my coauthor Matt Carlton in a small revision of Probability with Applications in Engineering, Science, and Technology, which Springer published in 2014. In the near future I will be revising my first book, Probability and Statistics for Engineering and the Sciences, to obtain a 10th edition. That was first published in 1982 and has lived much longer than I ever thought possible.
My two daughters both live in New York City, one in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn (How could they have left California?), and between them there are three grandchildren. My wife Carol and I go back to visit rather frequently. Last spring Carol and I took a wonderful three-week trip to southern France, including a week in Cannes after the film festival ended. This past summer we spent time with family in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, Lake Placid in upstate New York, and on Martha’s Vineyard, where we were stopped for President Obama’s motorcade. We plan to celebrate our 50th anniversary with a Mediterranean cruise next spring. I also spend a good deal of time reading but am no longer playing tennis because of a rotator cuff problem.
I continue to be impressed with the growth and accomplishments of the Cal Poly Statistics Department. Interest in our discipline has grown by leaps and bounds. The department now has 19 tenured or tenure track faculty and more than 30 incoming majors each year, far more than when I was department chair (by comparison, last spring 215 students earned bachelor's degrees in Statistics from UC Berkeley, many of them with double or triple majors; our senior project requirement simply does not allow us to grow that large).
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I have been enjoying retirement, although at times it doesn’t feel much like being retired. I have been working on revising one of my textbooks and have been involved in several curriculum development projects for middle school and high school as more statistics content is being included in the math curriculum in K-12. There has been some time for travel, which I always enjoy. Last year I was able to make my third trip to South Africa, which, as always, was amazing. I also was able to spend some time in Eastern Europe earlier this year, with stops in Budapest, Vienna and Prague. I am looking forward to seeing what the next year will bring.