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Taft Funding Supports New Math Lab
Expands Opportunities for Students in Statistics

Date: May 18, 2001
By: Chris Curran
Phone: (513) 556-1806
Archive: Campus News

The Taft Executive Board of the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences awarded this year's Taft Departmental Enhancement Award to the department of mathematical sciences, supporting a new laboratory and statistical consulting service.

The award of $129,000 covers a three-year period beginning Sept. 1. Professors James Deddens and Siva Sivaganesan will serve as co-directors of the new Consulting Laboratory during the next academic year. The laboratory will draw upon the statistical expertise of UC's six faculty statisticians and over 50 graduate students in the math department.

"The creation of the Statistical Consulting Laboratory (SCL) responds to the tremendous growth in the use of probability and statistics in the social sciences, physical sciences, business, medical sciences, and in education in general over the last 30 years," said department head Joanna Mitro.

"Today, all studies involving data collection require some form of statistical analysis. Increasingly researchers are required to employ more sophisticated statistical designs and methodologies, in order to extract more information from their data," said Deddens.

Most departments at UC use statistics in their research and teaching. The SCL will offer assistance to faculty, students, and researchers, especially on West Campus, with statistical questions or issues, from planning to analysis.

The Statistical Consulting Laboratory will also be an integral part of the teaching mission of the department of mathematical sciences. The department currently offers a concentration in applied statistics encompassing a wide range of courses leading to a master's or doctoral degree. These courses also serve advanced students in other disciplines interested in statistics.

The SCL will allow the department to offer graduate students a consulting experience as part of their training, comparable to what is done at other universities. Before this, graduate students in the applied statistics program have obtained practical experience through internships and part time jobs arranged on an ad hoc basis for each student. However, not all students were able to get internships, and some of the individual jobs offered only a limited scope of responsibility and lacked direct supervision.

"Practical experience makes the students more attractive to potential employers, because the students involved learn to work with non-statisticians and do statistical analyses outside of a formal classroom setting," explained Sivaganesan. At UC, statistics graduate students will be involved in the activities of the SCL through a new course, "Statistical Consulting," which begins this fall. This course will offer qualified students the training and supervision needed for successful collaborations.

The faculty connected to this project are all experienced applied statisticians, all of whom have considerable consulting and interdisciplinary experience, as well as the expertise to create and evaluate new statistical methodologies which may be required to meet the needs of SCL clients.

For more information, contact Professor James A. Deddens at 556-4081.

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