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Applications and Careers In Statistics. Purdue University Science 111 Presentation March 21, 2005. Outline. What is Statistics? What do statisticians do? Statistics in the Community Research at Purdue Our research interests. What is Statistics?.

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applications and careers in statistics

Applications and Careers In Statistics

Purdue University

Science 111 Presentation

March 21, 2005

  • What is Statistics?
  • What do statisticians do?
  • Statistics in the Community
  • Research at Purdue
  • Our research interests
what is statistics
What is Statistics?
  • ‘The science of collecting, organizing, and interpreting numerical facts’
  • ‘The science of understanding data and making decisions in the face of uncertainty’
  • ‘The art of making numerical conjectures about puzzling questions’
  • ‘The construction of useful information out of data’
where can statisticians contribute
Where Can Statisticians Contribute?
  • Business and Industry
  • Health and Medicine
  • Natural Resources and Sciences
  • Education
  • Government, Media, and Law
business and industry
Business and Industry
  • Manufacturing
    • Improve product quality
    • Increase efficiency of processes
  • Marketing
    • Conduct sample surveys
    • Determine product viability
  • Engineering
    • Make consistent product
    • Predict product life
  • Computing
    • Software design and development
    • Efficient implementation of complex analytic tools
health and medicine
Health and Medicine
  • Epidemiology
    • Calculate cancer incidence rates
    • Monitor disease outbreaks
  • Public Health
    • Design community efforts
    • Education programs
  • Pharmacology
    • Drug discovery, development, and approval
    • Ensure validity of results in clinical trials
  • Genetics
    • Identify potential indicators for specific diseases or traits
    • Develop effective plant and animal breeding strategies
natural resources and sciences
Natural Resources and Sciences
  • Agriculture
    • Study pesticides to maximize crop yield
    • Evaluate differences in crop management
  • Ecology
    • Study changes in local and global climate
    • Develop strategies to improve the environment
  • Chemistry
    • Predict shape of large molecules
    • Analysis of mass spectrometry data
  • Biology
    • Seek to better understand why insects cluster
    • Identify genes related to a particular disease
  • Develop effective teaching strategies
  • Research appropriate and informative evaluation (testing) instruments
  • Identify risk factors for bullying, dropping out, failing
  • Help students acquire quantitative reasoning skills
government media and law
Government, Media, and Law
  • Government Agencies
    • Design and implement effective sampling strategies
    • Estimate the U.S. unemployment rate
    • Track and report changes in the economy
    • Regulations on stock trading, drug approval, pollution
  • Journalism
    • Effective communication of statistical ideas to a broad audience
    • Participation in education efforts
  • Expert Witness
    • Testify in court cases involving DNA evidence, salary discrepancies, discrimination, and disease clusters
skills needed by statisticians
Skills Needed By Statisticians
  • Quantitative Skills
    • Statistics, Mathematics, Science
  • Problem-Solving Skills
    • Analysis, Teamwork
  • Communication Skills
    • Verbal, Written
  • Computer Programming
  • Foundation in Field of Application
what is statcom
What is STATCOM?
  • A student-run volunteer organization to provide free statistical expertise to the local community
  • Primarily graduate students in Purdue Department of Statistics
  • Work with local non-profit and government groups
  • An opportunity to develop consulting, leadership, teamwork, and communication skills
statistics in local government
Statistics in Local Government
  • Sagamore Parkway Task Force
    • How should Sagamore Parkway be improved to make it safer and more attractive to residents and new businesses?
  • West Lafayette Strategic Plan
    • What should the city’s priorities be and where should it spend taxpayers’ money?
statistics in the schools
Statistics in the Schools
  • Are state funds allocated fairly across school districts?
  • Do schools perform differently on standardized tests, and if so, why?
  • How can teachers identify students needing extra help?
statistics in libraries
Statistics in Libraries
  • What genres are the most popular?
  • Where should the library spend its money?
  • Does location within the library affect checkout rates?
statistics in community organizations
Statistics in Community Organizations
  • How effective are a rehabilitation center’s programs?
  • Why is there high staff turnover at some organizations?
  • How can an organization increase the response rate of a survey?
  • Which community services should be expanded?
benefits of statcom
Benefits of STATCOM
  • Provide students with hands-on experience
  • Improve relations between university and local community
  • Assist local organizations that would not normally seek statistical consulting services
  • Allow students to give back to the local community
statistical consulting at purdue samples
Statistical Consulting at Purdue: Samples

Advice on experimental design and analysis for:

  • Determining the best balance of corn and soy in the diets of lambs in Tunisia to maximize Nitrogen retention and body weight gain
  • Evaluating the effects of different weed control strategies on the growth of new hardwood forest growth in Alabama
  • Investigating how cockroaches’ past diets affect what baits they find most appealing
fields of statistics research at purdue
Fields of Statistics Research at Purdue
  • Health and Nutrition
  • Bioinformatics
  • Computational Methods
  • Computational Finance
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Quality Control
research example microarrays
Research Example – Microarrays
  • Study gene expression levels in different conditions (e.g., cancer vs. noncancer)
  • Labs use this technology to identify genes related to a particular condition
statistical issues with microarrays
Statistical Issues with Microarrays
  • Accounting for different sources of variability
  • Measuring gene expression levels
  • Combining results from multiple laboratories
  • Massive data sets
  • Multiple testing
  • Visualization techniques
  • Defining significance
different results from multiple microarray studies
Different Results From Multiple Microarray Studies
  • Need to reconcile differences between labs’ results
combining results from multiple microarray studies
Combining Results From Multiple Microarray Studies
  • Meta-analysis
    • ‘The analysis of analyses’
    • Research synthesis
  • Accounting for known differences between experiments
  • Dependence structure
    • Experiments from the same lab, for example
  • Efficient implementation
    • Analyze all 13,000 genes (mouse data) quickly
tackling malnutrition in young children
Tackling Malnutrition in Young Children
  • Corn is a staple food in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and parts of Asia
  • The quality of protein in corn is poor
  • Malnutrition is a common problem in places where corn is the main source of food
how do you know it works
How Do You Know It Works?
  • What kind of experiment would you do?
  • What would you measure?
quantifying the nutritional benefits
Quantifying the Nutritional Benefits
  • Does the body take up the protein?
  • Does it lead to better health and growth in children?
  • Are families who eat QPM instead of regular corn better off?
does the body take up the protein
Does the Body Take Up the Protein?
  • Six children in Guatemala fed QPM or milk (1969)
  • Eight children in Peru fed QPM, regular corn, or milk protein (1980)
  • Another six children in Peru fed QPM, regular corn, or milk protein (1989)
  • ...
does it lead to better health and growth
Does It Lead to Better Health and Growth?
  • Twenty children in Peru fed QPM or milk formula (1990)
  • 134 children in India (1977), but the study wasn’t published
  • ...
are families better off
Are Families Better Off?
  • Studies have been done in communities and schools in:
    • Mexico
    • Guatemala
    • Brazil
    • Ghana
    • Ethiopia
    • India
  • Statistics is a widely-used tool in virtually all fields of science and technology
  • There are substantial open research questions in statistics, and there is great room for growth
  • Statistical consulting at Purdue serves both on-campus researchers and non-profit organizations in the local community
  • You can develop the necessary skills to become a statistician or to use statistical tools in your field of interest
thank you
Thank You!
  • References:
    • Samuels and Witmer (1999). Statistics for the Life Sciences.
    • Freedman, Pisani, and Purves (1998). Statistics.
    • Moore and McCabe (1999). Introduction to the Practice of Statistics.
    • Careers in Statistics: A World of Opportunity. Presented by the American Statistical Association, available at
    • Purdue University Department of Statistics