Students recognized for statistical applications and proficiency

Geneseo hosted the third annual UP-STAT Conference for the American Statistical Association Chapters in upstate New York on April 12. The conference featured presentations by both students and professors from surrounding colleges like University of Rochester, the Rochester Institute of Technology and Cornell University with approximately 120 people in attendance. Plans for the conference began this past October with faculty members including visiting assistant professor of mathematics Yusuf Bilgic and associate professor of mathematics Carol Haddad. The bulk of the conference was led by student and professor presentations and a statistical data competition. Teams from the City University of New York won first and second place in the data competition, followed by two State University of New York teams winning third and fourth place.

The American Statistics Association had three awards that were presented to students with the best presentations, each of which were won by Geneseo students. Senior Herb Susmann, junior Staci Weiss and senior Mike Pilosov won each of the categories for Best Presentation, Best Application of Statistics and Best Funny Presentation, respectively.

“There were more than ten presentations,” Bilgic said. “There were five Geneseo presenters, and we swept all of the awards, which ranged from $150 to $600.”

Susmann, who discussed his research on the software coding program, “R,” won overall best presentation out of at least 30 other student presenters. “R” held a relative theme throughout the entire conference, with various workshops held in addition to Susmann’s presentation describing the software program.

“I wasn’t expecting to win because my talk was so nitty gritty,” Susmann said. “I talked about down and dirty tricks I used. It was much more applied than other presenters.”

Weiss won Best Applied Statistics for her work with statistical analysis of autistic children. Her internship at the University of Rochester Medical Center provided her with the tools and tests to ultimately determine that there are four types of non-verbal autistic children: children who learned rapidly, children who were high functioning to begin with, children slower to learn and children who didn’t show significant learning growth at all.

“I’m a psychology major, so I was out of my comfort zone,” Weiss said. “But everyone was so encouraging. We’re now hoping to get the information published.”

Bilgic expressed that her research was easy to understand by everyone, which helped with her win.

Geneseo’s unique, liberal arts nature was shown with a non-math major presenting, and subsequently winning an award at this statistics conference. The American Statistics Association hopes this gives confidence to those without a statistics background.

“It is statistics for everyone,” Bilgic said. “Next year we want to make it even more inclusive, especially for statistics educations and undergraduate students to increase the awareness of quantitative literacy. We want more involvement from different departments and to make it more public.”

It has already been determined that next year’s ASA UP-STAT conference will be held at Geneseo once again. Bilgic and Haddad look forward to increasing statistical awareness through disciplines across the entire liberal arts spectrum.