Students Receive National Recognition for Statistics Research

April 04, 2023

Grinnell statistics students have won the second- and third-place titles in the national Undergraduate Statistics Project Competition.

Anh Vu ’25, Quang Le ’25, and Duy Nguyen ’25, mentored by professor of mathematics and statistics Ryan Miller, received second-place recognition for their paper, “Identification Of Effective Biomarkers In Predicting The Survival Of Patients With Severe Sepsis and Septic Shock.” They completed their project as a capstone assignment in Miller’s course, STA 230 — Introduction to Data Science.

Jinglin Xiong ’24 and Maya Gardner ’25, students in Shonda Kuiper’s section of STA 310 — Statistical Modeling, were awarded third place nationwide for their paper. The two developed a statistical model to determine which combination of environmental factors best predicts the occurrence of forest fires in Portugal and Northern Algeria.

In the last 10 years, Grinnellians have appeared more than 30 times on the awards lists of national statistics competitions such as USPROC and the Undergraduate Class Project Competition (USCLAP). This success can be linked to the Grinnell statistics curriculum’s emphasis on real-world research and application. From introductory courses to high-level data science seminars, students find and analyze datasets according to their own interests and are encouraged to submit those projects to national competitions at the end of the semester.

“I enjoy the diversity of interests students bring to the classroom,” says Kuiper, professor of statistics and chair of the department. “For example, Grinnell students have chosen to analyze discriminatory patterns in police stop and arrest data, longitudinal surveys on Brexit, stain removal, voter registration, recidivism rates, Kickstarter campaigns, fighting homelessness, patterns in global terrorism as well as a wide variety of marketing and sports analytics.”

“In completing these projects, students prove that they are competent to not only collect and analyze the data, but also to communicate their results to people with limited background in statistics,” Kuiper says.

Congratulations to these Grinnellians for their rigorous research and writing, and to professors Kuiper and Miller for mentoring successful student projects!

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