Faculty Updates 2022
These past five years have certainly flown by! Professionally, I've gotten very involved in programming in R — writing my first full package, teaching several R-based classes, speaking at conferences and most importantly, making silly jokes about R on Twitter. Recently I've begun working more with Python, which has been a welcome challenge. I've also picked up several applied collaborations with other Cal Poly professors in the past few years. The diversity of data is incredible; I find myself working on soil data, wine survey results and historical social networks all in the same week. Looking ahead, I'm excited to pick up some bigger post-tenure projects, including creating more R packages and working on publishable educational materials.
On a personal note, I continue to love living on the Central Coast, so much so that I purchased my first house this past summer. I've painted it in aggressively bright colors, and I enjoy hosting board game nights and taking advantage of the community hot tub. Cal Poly and San Luis Obispo feel like home, and I'm looking forward to seeing what the next five years bring
With the shut-down, I actually had time to do some more running. We even found a sparsely attended half-marathon in Cody, Wyoming. There were so few runners that I managed to place in my age division and learned they give rather unique “medals” in Cody. This year I have felt very blessed to be back in person, as well as to finish up some book projects and papers so now I can spend more time updating our applets.
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.
Hi, all. I have now been retired from teaching at Cal Poly for over a decade (and I taught my last class in the summer of 2016 at Columbia University in New York City). I had a great time teaching for more than 40 years, especially classes for stats majors, but I don’t miss walking into a classroom (especially not having to write on a chalkboard). Last year, I completed revisions of two textbooks, Modern Mathematical Statistics with Applications, published by Springer, and Probability with STEM Applications, published by Wiley. Matt Carlton was my valued co-author on both books. So, I am now officially retired from the textbook writing game; if any more revisions are needed, Matt can step up to the plate.
I’m amazed and gratified at how the disciplines of statistics and data science have grown. In the seven years I was department chair, it was always somewhat embarrassing to have to show up at the COSAM WoW orientation to introduce our small handful of majors. And our upper division courses all too frequently had enrollments in the single or very low double digits. That has changed substantially. Many upper-level courses at Cal Poly are taught in multiple sections rather than just once a year. And I don’t have figures for Cal Poly, but in the period from 2015 to 2019, UC Berkeley awarded over 1,000 bachelor’s degrees in statistics. The world has finally awakened to the importance of data analysis!
Obviously the last two years have been difficult for many people. Us retired folks have been impacted less than most. My wife, Carol, and I have remained healthy, as have our two children and their families. The only traveling we’ve done was a three-week trip to NYC last November, where both our daughters live. We plan to return there for an extended period this coming spring. Maybe life will return to pre-COVID normality and we can do more than read, watch Netflix shows and walk our dog.
I would very much enjoy receiving messages from any of my former students (firstname.lastname@example.org). Cheers to all.
After a year and a half of remote instruction, it was wonderful to return to the classroom this past fall, even under the mask-mandated protocol. Over the years, I think I really took for granted the personal interactions I get to enjoy with students on a daily basis. Without those one-on-one interactions, this job really did not feel the same.
In my previous update I mentioned that I have recently been working with educators in Japan at both the high school and university levels. Although COVID caused a one-year hiatus, this upcoming summer I look forward to continuing those partnerships by resuming the lectures and presentations I have been doing every summer in Japan since 2016. I'm also looking forward to starting a possible research collaboration with a faculty member at the University of Tokyo.
Last academic year, I took on the role of chair of the department's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee, and I continue in that role this term. It has been an interesting time learning and thinking about how our department could foster actions centered on DEI. Early this academic year, our department posted a statement on DEI, and I encourage you to check out the statement if you have not done so already.
On a personal note, I continue to remain busy with my family during my spare time. My daughters are now nine and seven years old. I get exhausted trying to keep up with them, and they are as sassy as they can be
The whirlwind continues with working and teaching during a pandemic. Teaching online and in hybrid format has its pros and cons, and it has been refreshing to get back to some in-person courses this 2021-22 academic year. On another note, the richness and breadth of my research and industry collaborations have grown a lot, which has been extremely exciting. My wife and I bought a house in Grover Beach in 2020, which has been a boon to our interests in board games and making craft cocktails. All in all, we're most excited to travel again as soon as we're able.
2021 challenged us all to develop new skills and materials to deliver online material that was effective and engaging. Students did a great job adjusting to our new platforms, but we are all excited to be back in person! This year is my fifth as a lecturer at Cal Poly, and I’ve enjoyed honing content for STAT 217 and 511.
In addition to teaching, I continue to provide research consulting and training services to various clients. Last year, I hosted sexual harassment, misconduct, discrimination and bullying trainings and provided risk assessment services for K-12 school districts across the country from California to Alaska to New York. Last year, I co-authored, “Examining the Effectiveness of Trauma Smart® Training: Staff Satisfaction, Knowledge, and Attitudes” published in Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. I spoke about Title IX implementation at the California School Board Association (CSBA) Annual Conference and the National Association for State Directors of Teacher Credentialing (NASDTEC) Annual Conference. A manuscript, “Title IX Policy Implementation and Sexual Harassment Prevalence in K-12 Schools,” was just submitted to the Journal of Education Policy. We finished building our house and are enjoying having the kids (ages nine, seven and four) back in sports again. Basketball is just wrapping up and baseball is gearing up.
This is my third year at Cal Poly, and I have to say this is a wonderful place to teach. I’m surrounded by talented and supportive faculty, and the students here are the best! I’m happy that we have returned to in-person instruction after over a year of teaching online. This past year I have discovered my passion for teaching regression courses like STAT 324 and STAT 334 and hope to teach more next year. I am continuing my research on interval estimation for parameters of discrete distributions and plan to submit another paper over the summer. Outside of work, I have been enjoying the outdoors through a variety of activities, including snowboarding, biking, hiking, backpacking, kayaking and much more. I look forward to a productive and fun 2022.
The most exciting (using that term loosely here) thing that has happened to me in the last couple of years is my progression into the next phase of my life. No, I didn’t finally graduate from college. That was you! And that was exciting! I was recently promoted into the empty-nester league, with my daughter going off to college in the fall of 2020. In some ways, it was great timing, because as I adjusted to teaching online in the early days of the pandemic, I could bounce ideas off of her, she herself being a fledgling pandemic-era college student, and she could let me know that my zany ideas would never fly. Where did she end up? UCSB. Easy now. I know Gauchos and Mustangs don’t always see eye-to-eye. But recall, I myself am a Gaucho graduate student. With my daughter now also at UCSB, the internal conflict I feel during the Cal Poly/UCSB soccer game is unenviable, I assure you. But since this is a Cal Poly Statistics Department newsletter, let me just close by saying: Go Mustangs!
I continue to enjoy teaching a variety of courses, including probability and Bayesian statistics. I'm looking forward to teaching data science (DATA 301) for the first time next year.
Two nice things about online teaching: (1) Starting my videos with a snippet of a song, so my students got a bonus education in the rockingest 90s indie music. (2) Spending more time at home with my kids. They get more amazing every day, and I'm very lucky to be their dad.
I finished my second three-year term as department chair in 2019 and then spent the 2019-20 academic year on leave. During this leave, I wrote and posted 52 essays about teaching introductory statistics on my blog, Ask Good Questions. Since then I have returned to full-time teaching, first remotely via Zoom last year and now in-person this year.
My fantasy sports teams (called the Domestic Shorthairs) have not been performing well lately. On the other hand, my cat Puti liked having my wife Eileen and me home during the pre-vaccine days of the pandemic. Eileen and I still enjoy traveling, even though the pandemic has made that more challenging. Here is a photo of us on Hanalei Beach in July 2021.
These past few years have been crazy with COVID and everything else, but I enjoyed a lot of teaching courses online! Online teaching has become one of my areas of research, and I published an article in 2021 titled “Learning Design and Student Behavior in a Fully Online Course” in collaboration with Professor Samuel Frame. On the personal side, I spent a couple of months in Brazil during 2020, and it was a blessing to be with my family, especially my 100-year-old grandpa and my four-year-old nephew.
While I’m in my third year as department chair, it only just now feels like I understand the job. Perhaps this was because most of my term thus far was under crisis operation, and it’s really only my third quarter serving this role from my office on campus. Whatever I’ve been doing, I guess it’s been okay, since the department was willing to have me chair another three years. Could it be because the department is starting our seven-year program review? Or perhaps that we will be completely restructuring all of our curriculum and courses as the campus transitions from quarters to semesters by Fall 2025? Whatever the reason, I am grateful for their friendship and support! I’m teaching much less as chair, but I have still been doing a lot of statistics. I’m collaborating on many research projects with colleagues in the Center for Heath Research, Food Science and Nutrition, and Environmental and Horticultural Science. One of the things that drew me to statistics was being able to help others solve their research problems. I’m so lucky that I’m able to continue doing that and am really proud that my colleagues have been able to disseminate their research findings widely in a variety of journals and conferences.
On a more personal note, both of my kids are having big transitions this year. My oldest is graduating from UCSB with a degree in physics. My youngest will be graduating high school. He plans on studying actuarial science. Who knows, he might end up at Cal Poly! He applied to the Economics Area, though. I think it was too much for him to fathom being in the same department as his dad. Like Ulric, Michelle and I are soon to be empty nesters. We haven’t yet decided whether we should celebrate or cry. Maybe some of both.
The past couple of years have been challenging and rewarding for me both professionally and personally. Pandemic times due to COVID posed interesting obstacles with respect to teaching but have allowed me the opportunity to think about online learning in a new way. Developing materials for this learning style was a fun way to flex my knowledge of the courses I taught. I was also able to spend significant time writing grants that have now allowed me to start a bioacoustics program at Cal Poly including the purchase of equipment that will allow us to listen for marine mammals in our local waters. This will open up a lot of opportunities for undergraduate students here at Cal Poly.
Similar to everyone else, COVID really cramped my deep desire to travel but did give me a fond appreciation for all that San Luis Obispo County has to offer. I am, however, looking forward to taking more small trips in the future, including camping in northern California and relaxing in Hawaii. I'm thankful for how fortunate I have been over the past couple of years, given the circumstances, and looking forward to a great next few years.
Hello there Statistics Department alumni!
I hope all of you are staying healthy and doing well with your family, careers, and/or graduate school. It was great to begin my 17th year in the Statistics Department back on campus and teaching in-person again. It's currently winter quarter, and I'm teaching Survival Analysis Methods again. I'm implementing COVID survival data into many different exercises and examples. In other professional news, I’m planning to serve as the lead statistician on two separate National Institutes of Health grant proposals led by faculty in the Kinesiology and Public Health and Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering departments. The project in kinesiology will investigate the potential impacts of maternal technology use on the quality and outcome of mother-infant interactions during feeding. The second project will investigate relationships between various arm movements and risk of injury among youth baseball pitchers and youth softball pitchers. In family news, my kids are getting older and smarter, and developing into their own unique persons. Yazmin is in her last year of elementary school (sixth grade) and Gabe is in fourth grade. The kids are staying active with Yazmin becoming a sprinter in track and Gabe enjoying soccer, gymnastics and flag football. Their old man and author of this newsletter update will run a marathon the day before his 50th birthday and has set a goal to qualify for Boston.
I am a new lecturer teaching STAT 312 Statistical Methods for Engineers during the 2021-22 academic year. I'm grateful to be teaching in-person, and I'm impressed by how disciplined and respectful my students are. Coming from the Midwest, I am in awe of San Luis Obispo's weather and beauty.
My wife, Yvonne, and I have done a lot of traveling since the last newsletter. Prior to the pandemic, we took an exciting Baltic cruise, stopping in England, France, Holland, Denmark, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Russia, Finland and Sweden — each country was worthy of a longer stay, but cruise ships don’t seem to want to wait. We also cruised up the Mississippi from New Orleans to Memphis, wonderful cities with great music and food, stopping along the way at various historical and quaint cities and towns, including a town in Mississippi that had the fantastic BB King Blues Museum. We took trips to Kauai and Maui, golfing on one of the greenest golf courses you would ever want to see.
Speaking of golf, we spent four days at the Pebble Beach ProAm, watching Jason Day and Phil Mickleson lose to an unknown Canadian golfer (so unknown I can’t remember his name, Taylor or Wilson or some such). Still speaking of golf, I went on several golf trips to Utah with a large group of old golfers, some even older than I and yet still alive.
Late last year, we took our first trip since the pandemic started, cruising in Mexico, having a “how the heck did that cliff diver miss that rock outcropping” moment. This year we plan to take a Caribbean cruise in the spring out of New Orleans and explore that city afterwards. In the summer, we are going to take an Alaska land and sea tour (second time, the first was Yvonne’s all-time favorite trip). Finally, in the winter, we are going with friends on a tall sailing ship, leaving from Spain, visiting Morocco and the Canary Islands among other destinations.
I still golf and play racquetball (albeit slower) and go to a lot of live theatre. I even work as a volunteer bartender at one of them. For quite a few years after I retired, I would teach two to four courses in the fall quarter. However, once the pandemic hit and courses went online, that stopped. So unless the department hits a last-minute problem with personnel some future quarter, I am probably done with teaching. It makes me sad — I miss the students and the camaraderie with the faculty — but life moves on.
My first year at Cal Poly was quite the experience! I experienced teaching on Zoom in three different ways: synchronously, asynchronously and hybrid. To form deeper connections with my students I gave oral exams a try and absolutely loved it. I wrote a short article for the Journal of Statistics and Data Science Education advocating for the use of oral exams and discussing my experiences using them during the pandemic. I’ve also loved incorporating a team-based structure in my STAT 331 courses, providing students with the experience of discussing their ideas with others and leading discussions where everyone’s voice is heard.
Outside of teaching and research, my wife and I have been going on as many outdoor adventures as we can. Some notable experiences over the last year have been: vising Joshua Tree for the first time, hiking Mt. Whitney, mountain biking all over Montana de Oro and running the City to the Sea half marathon (a PR!). I feel so lucky to be part of a department full of wonderful people and to get to spend time in the sun every day.