Faculty Updates 2019
My first two years at Cal Poly have gone by quickly. This year, I got to teach STAT 331 Computing with R, which was a blast. I also worked on some very fun senior projects with a talented bunch of soon-to-be graduates. In my research time, I have been focusing on developing tools to make R more accessible for teaching and for non-technical researchers. On the personal side, I continue to enjoy frequent traveling, board games and all the outdoor activities that the Central Coast has to offer.
I can’t believe this is my 20th year in the Cal Poly Statistics Department. It’s exciting to see how much the department has grown. I’m about to take a short sabbatical to work on a second textbook, a revision to Devore and Berk’s “Modern Mathematical Statistics with Applications.” The rest of my professional time is devoted to my “second job,” statistical consultant for University Advising. We take deep dives into Cal Poly student data in hopes of developing robust predictive models for student success and, in turn, creating targeted programming to help more students graduate.
My family and I enjoyed the International Conference on Teaching Statistics in Japan and were very excited to see two alumni, Stephanie Mendoza and Noelle Pablo, present on their work. Tour highlights included Museum Gihbli and Monkey Park.
Having left Cal Poly after the 2015 school year so that my wife could pursue her graduate studies, I first landed at Ursinus College outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This past fall, I joined the faculty of Villanova University, where my wife is in the doctoral program in theology. Despite being in such different fields, we are just one floor apart in the same building. This upcoming fall, I am excited to offer a new course in statistical genetics.
Outside of work, my most recent hobby is learning Mandarin Chinese, which I never studied as a child. My parents spoke Taiwanese, a related but mutually unintelligible language to Mandarin. The language learning app "Duolingo" tells me that I have learned 927 words in approximately the past year. Rough guidelines suggest that a basic conversational ability needs about 1,500 words. I will be traveling to Taiwan this summer to visit family and also explore the country on my own for the first time. I am excited to see how successful — or not — I am at communicating with others during my trip.
I continue to enjoy being almost entirely retired. My only professional activity these days is continued dabbling in textbook writing. Matt Carlton has joined with me and my current coauthor to prepare a third edition of “Modern Mathematical Statistics with Applications,” published by Springer. I continue to be involved with some aspects of Cal Poly life, serving on both the Cal Poly Arts Advisory Board and the Kennedy Library Dean’s Advisory Council. The library is on track for an $80 million dollar transformation beginning in 2022 — please contribute!
On a personal level, my wife and I travel with some frequency to New York City to see our two daughters and three grandchildren. I traveled to Vietnam and Cambodia for three weeks in February, a thoroughly enjoyable and educational experience (my wife declined to join me for health reasons). And we are scheduled to visit Martha’s Vineyard and Maine in August and Costa Rica in December.
In early July 2018 I joined a large group of our faculty and attended the International Conference on Teaching Statistics (ICOTS) in Kyoto, Japan. Days prior to the start of ICOTS I gave a presentation in Japanese on active learning and simulation-based inference at the Japan Conference on Teaching Statistics. I gave a similar presentation at Edogawa University in Chiba, Japan.
The presentation was based on the two-hour statistics lecture I gave a year prior at Takasaki Super Science High School in Gunma, Japan. That experience led to the publication of an article that appeared in the March 2019 issue of the Journal of the Japan Society of Mathematical Education. The title of the article translates to "Lecture Examples using Simulation-Based Inference and Active Learning."
This was the first time I had ever written a peer-reviewed article in Japanese, and the experience was quite challenging but rewarding. This summer I plan to return to Japan and give more lectures at other Super Science High Schools. In other news I continue to pursue research interests in the area of optimal confidence intervals for discrete distributions and am currently working on a paper with my previous coauthor, Mark Schilling from CSU Northridge.
I am finishing up my fifth year here at Cal Poly and loving every minute. I'm thrilled to be teaching our course in statistical learning for the second time this spring. Not only is the content fun and exciting but also the student engagement and questions have been off the charts. It's been a lot of fun to get involved in a great many other things, including teaching our data science courses and chairing the Western Users of SAS Software conference this year in the Seattle area. I strongly encourage all of our past students to come visit us; there's a lot of exciting things to learn about and catch up on.
My work with Frost Research Fellows — students who receive a stipend from the Frost Fund to do research — has led to adoption of the S.E.S.A.M.E. bill in Maryland, which will prohibit the practice of “Passing the Trash” in K-12 schools, where school employees who have engaged in sexual misconduct with students are transferred to other schools. So far, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Nevada, New Jersey and now Maryland have enacted this legislation. This research was supported by the Frost Fund.
I recently co-edited a special issue in the Journal of Child Abuse and was a coauthor on the following publications: K–12 School Employee Sexual Abuse and Misconduct: An Examination of Policy Effectiveness; Considerations for the Prevention of preK-12 School Employee Sexual Misconduct and Abuse; Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of PreK-12 Students by School Personnel; Title IX and School Employee Sexual Misconduct: How K–12 Schools Respond in the Wake of an Incident; and Preventing School Employee Sexual Misconduct: An Outcome Survey Analysis of Making Right Choices.
I had a fun time teaching our R and SAS programming classes again for the first time in a while this past year. R's constant evolution is exciting to keep up with, and SAS' stability and dependability is comforting, like an old friend or a relative who doesn't live too close by. My favorite SAS homework that I assigned used data regarding the television show “The Bachelor.” The class showed that across all seasons of the show, the average number of dates for the couple getting engaged at the end of the season is only 4.88. It actually took a lot of SAS data management for the class to finally arrive at this figure, but I think we can all agree that it was worth it.
Professional: I am currently working on producing a lecture video series for introductory statistics courses.
Personal: Over this past year I moved to downtown San Luis Obispo and purchased my first electric vehicle. I can't express enough how awesome these cars are. I celebrated another Patriots Super Bowl, our third in five years, and am looking forward to more. Tom Brady will live forever!
I am still in my happy place teaching SAS certification courses and advising summer research and senior projects for the Statistics Department. After all these years I still seem to have the knack for developing 'fun' programming assignments that my students are sure to love. My work at City of Hope has recently expanded into the area of biomedical informatics. Several of my team projects involve using Natural Language Processing to extract data that can be used to create clinical research models that depend on volumes of patient data such as genetics, clinical diagnostics, environment and lifestyle. On a personal note, I just joined the local Masters swim team. It's been challenging and invigorating to be back in the pool regularly again, but more importantly I can still beat my kids in the 50 free.
Hard to believe that I have been retired for almost 10 years now. The time sure flies by. This last year has been filled with the perfect balance of work and travel. On the work front, I was busy with revisions of my textbooks and new editions of the two introductory stat books and a new Statistics Companion (a book designed for a co-requisite support course that runs alongside the introductory statistics course) that all came out this year. I have also been doing quite a few professional development workshops for community college faculty who are preparing to teach statistics in response to a sizable increase in statistics enrollments. On the travel side, I was able to make two major trips this last year. In August I traveled with friends to the Netherlands, Scotland, Iceland and Norway. And in March I spent a week in Prague, which has now become one of my favorite cities to visit. This fall, another trip back to South Africa is planned.
I am currently on leave from Cal Poly and doing pharmaceutical market research with Adelphi Research in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. I am learning a lot about pharmaceutical pipeline and analytic techniques for choice modeling, and I am also helping the analytics team migrate to R. Meanwhile, three-year-old Avery and one-year-old Carsen are keeping us busy. Avery is amazing at puzzles and an awesome big sister, and Carsen is pretty close to walking and wants to do anything her sister does.
My biggest professional achievement in the past year was being awarded tenure and promotion to associate professor. I'm honored to be a member of the Cal Poly statistics faculty. I've recently enjoyed teaching our new course on Bayesian statistics and teaching probability courses using lots of simulation. On the personal side, my family had a fun trip to the Jersey Shore last summer. My kids continue to do gymnastics and acrobatics; perhaps you will see our traveling circus on the road someday.
I will be completing my sixth and final year as department chair in the next few months. I have enjoyed the privilege of leading our team, and I am looking forward to embarking on a year-long leave next year. I have proposed two projects for this leave: writing a weekly series of essays about teaching statistics for a blog that will be called “Ask Good Questions,” and developing a podcast in which I interview teachers of statistics.
On the personal side, my wife and I crossed off a bucket list item with a trip to the Galapagos Islands last summer. We continue to enjoy playing with our cat, Puti.
During the last year and a half, I have had the opportunity to continue to work with statistics majors on their senior projects and summer research, travel to San Diego and Denver for professional activities, and continue my collaboration with several statistics educators from the Cal Poly Statistics Department as well as from other schools around the country on developing curricular materials for teaching statistics.
On a personal note, my husband and I welcomed the newest member of our family, Edward Arnav Sherman, this January. Older brother James, who is two and a half, is eagerly waiting for baby brother to grow up so that they can play basketball together.
This is my third year at Cal Poly, and so far things are great. I published an article in the Statistics Education Research Journal about assessing students’ statistical literacy and reasoning. I also taught an online course for the first time. It was challenging but also fun to figure out how to best deliver the material online. On a personal note, I went to my home country Brazil for Christmas, and it was so awesome to be present for my nephew’s one-year-old birthday party. He is very cute!
I continue to be incredibly fortunate to have great colleagues from within the department and beyond to partner with. In this past year these partnerships have led to several new health-related publications. I love how these research projects feed my classes by providing a streaming continuum of examples. I'm hoping that I won't lose touch with all this exciting teaching and research as I prepare for a career transition. Beginning this summer I'll be stepping into the role of department chair. Thank you to Allan Rossman for his many years of service. I have big shoes to fill! I'm looking forward to learning many new skills along with all the accompanying rewards and challenges.
Another academic year is winding down, and I am wrapping up my 14th year in the Statistics Department. This spring, I’m the co-instructor for STAT 465 Statistical Consulting for the first time, and this is the first new class I’ve taught in over nine years — wow! I’ve also been busy advising senior projects and serving as the department consultant. My kids Yazmin, who is nine years old, and Gabe, who is seven and a half, are very active and growing up before my eyes. Yazmin completed her second season of competitive gymnastics, and Gabe continues to enjoy playing soccer. They’re also getting into running like their dad, and we recently ran our second 5k together in San Luis Obispo.
My wife, Yvonne, and I have done a lot of traveling this past year. We cruised around the Mediterranean, drove through Scotland, toured Spain and Portugal, floated up the Mississippi, traveled to Yuma and Seattle to see friends, took a golfing vacation in Utah and visited Kauai. I still enjoy teaching, and the department allows me to teach some classes in the fall quarter. I continue to play racquetball and golf, and we attend numerous plays and concerts. As the t-shirt says, “Life is good.”
It has been another great year in the Statistics Department. What a wonderful group of students, staff and faculty I have the honor to work with. I continue to teach STAT 421 Survey Sampling and Methodology and STAT 465 Statistical Consulting along with statistics for engineering, business and life science majors. This year I have enjoyed working with statistics students and a diverse group of project clients, both internal to Cal Poly and external. For example, in fall 2019 the STAT 421 class assisted the Country of San Luis Obispo’s Behavioral Health Department with a survey of their health providers. The STAT 465 classes, two sections in spring 2019, worked with clients from psychology, kinesiology, engineering, biology and Cal Poly student services. Interestingly, for the first time, there will be a third section of STAT 465 offered in fall 2019. The statistics major is growing. It is exciting!
I continue to work as a statistical consultant within Cal Poly’s Statistical Consulting Service. Business is booming there as well. In the winter 2019 quarter alone I collaborated with about 25 different clients in about 60 meetings. It is always a pleasure to help researchers in their quest for knowledge.
Working with a colleague from the University of Colorado Boulder, Eric Vance, I continue developing statistical consulting materials for teaching statisticians and data scientists how to improve their collaboration skills. Just this year Eric and I have team-taught short courses, given online webinars and given presentations for the American Statistical Association and for organizations in Europe. Our recent paper, The ASCCR Frame for Learning Essential Collaboration Skills, introduces consultants to strategies that incorporate the attitude of collaboration, structure, content, communication and relationship aspects of professional statistical consulting. I invite you to contact me if you are interested in discussing how you or your colleagues could benefit from working on improving your collaboration skills.
Finally, personally, I continue to enjoy learning more about viticulture and enology and partaking in the fabulous wines of the Central Coast. I have been to many NHL games this year, and I never miss a Florida Gator football game on TV. My husband, David, is still enjoying his work as a biostatistician at Westat, Inc., and my two sons are busily pursuing their academic interests. My younger son, Hadden, is soon to finish up a mathematics and economics bachelor’s degree at UCLA. My elder son, Austin, is finishing up his master’s degree in machine learning at Imperial College London and will then pursue his doctorate at Georgia Tech. So I have a lot to talk to both of them about.
I have recently published a paper titled Racial (Mis)Match in Middle School Mathematics Classroom. I am currently creating R Shinys to make my class more engaging.
Back in San Luis Obispo enjoying life as a new lecturer.