Biostatistics For the Win!
Jordan Bauer ’17 is a recent graduate who is moving into the field of Biostatistics. Jordan says,
“I came to Valpo as a mathematics major, but I had no idea what I wanted to do with that. I attended a student panel my freshman year where a few seniors at the time talked about their plans for after graduation. This is where I was first introduced to biostatistics because one of the students was attending graduate school for biostats. Then it wasn’t until I took my first statistics course my sophomore year with Professor Kolba that I knew I wanted to pursue statistics. Some courses that further drove me to attend graduate school for biostatistics were probability, mathematical statistics, and intro to SAS. I loved learning the theory behind statistics and the many different methods for analyzing data in Probability and Mathematical Statistics, and learning SAS was very interesting because it is such a powerful tool in the field. A faculty member in particular that helped steer my interest to statistics was Professor Kolba. Her passion for the classes she taught made me excited to learn more and her ability to explain and teach these concepts allowed me to understand the bigger picture of how statistics work and how it can be applied to data. The high level at which these classes were taught also really helped prepare me for my graduate studies.”
Jordan describes a day-in-the-life during her time as a student at V.U as, “attending class for a few hours, depending on the day. Most semesters, I had at least one or two days with no classes, which was very nice. A typical class was between 1.5 to 3 hours. Besides class, I was a teaching assistant (TA) for an intro to biostatistics course where I graded homework and exams and hosted help sessions a few times a week for the students. I also got involved with a research project that investigated the effectiveness of medical centers in Africa of treating AIDS in the younger population. I spent a few hours a week working to analyze and organize the dataset for this project in SAS. Outside of academics and research, I filled my free time walking dogs through Wag!, finding all my favorite restaurants in Indy, becoming a Starbucks addict, and then eventually adopting a dog of my own (border collie/shepard mix named Duncan- as seen in the picture)!”
Even with her course load, Jordan was able to have some fun. “Something that helped me stay sane during my studies was playing on the club ultimate frisbee team. We practiced a few days a week and traveled to different schools for tournaments a few times a semester. It was nice having an escape from studying to get some fresh air and exercise. Besides frisbee, I joined a sorority to get more involved and it was awesome having other people in the sorority also be in mathematics/statistics to help with homework or just get advice from. I also worked at the Union and was a grader for an intro to statistics course. I knew I loved statistics when I was able to grade 80+ homework assignments and still not get sick of the material.”
Here is some advice for current and prospective students. “My advice for students who aren’t entirely sure what they want to do with a math or stats degree is to explore all the options and take a bunch of different classes. I was unsure for a while and by taking a variety of math/stats related courses, I was able to determine what I liked and what I didn’t like. Also, I highly suggest getting involved in research with a faculty member, especially if you are considering grad school! I worked with Professor Capaldi on a project where we worked to model the infectious disease, pertussis, and even though it was not a statistics-based project, I learned so much about mathematical modeling and the research process in general. One last piece of advice for students interested in statistics is to get very comfortable with the programs SAS and R because they are used on a daily basis in the field, both in grad school and on the job!
I just think biostatistics is such an awesome field because it combines stats/analytics and science. It gives you the opportunity to be involved in studies that help solve interesting medical and public health problems!”
Jordan graduates from IUPUI’s Biostatistics Master’s program in May 2019 and will begin working at Eli Lilly in Indy in June as a Computational Statistician. At Eli Lilly, she will be in one of five therapeutic areas where she will be analyzing clinical trial datasets for different drug studies, mostly using SAS and R.