Where did you earn degrees and what are your current responsibilities at UGA?
I earned both my undergraduate (political science and mathematics) and graduate (mathematics and statistics) degrees at University of North Carolina-Greensboro. I am a senior lecturer and the undergraduate coordinator in the department of statistics at UGA. In 2008, I was awarded by the UGA Honors program the Lothar Tresp Honoratus Outstanding Honors Professor. I am passionate about teaching statistics and advising.
When did you come to UGA and what brought you here?
I came in 1989 after nine years as a statistics faculty member at UNC-Greensboro, West Virginia Institute of Technology and the University of Florida. During that time, I traveled with my husband as he completed his training as a physician. We were each offered wonderful opportunities to continue our careers in Athens.
What are your favorite courses and why?
All my courses are favorites in different ways. I thrive on challenging my students and on showing them the relevance of statistics in an inviting and stimulating environment. I most often teach the honors sections of our first two introductory statistics courses and in these courses I am fortunate to work with motivated students who use investigative learning to explore statistical concepts as they relate to case studies and everyday decision-making. The courses also are writing-intensive and include team projects throughout the semester. I have a special fondness for the statistics courses I developed and continue to teach for K-12 teachers. These courses grew out of my work at the state and national level with helping to write K-12 statistics standards and from serving as the lead faculty adviser with Advanced Placement Statistics. Given the strong presence of statistics in the new national Common Core State Math Standards, K-12 teacher preparation in statistics is a critical need. These teachers are key to disseminating the belief that statistical literacy is essential for all citizens.
What interests you about your field?
The interdisciplinary nature of statistics and its necessity in today’s data centric world. Statistics is the ‘cool’ profession in today’s world–everyone uses and needs statistics. As the famous statistician John Tukey once said, “The best thing about being a statistician is you get to play in everyone’s back yard.”
What are some highlights of your career at UGA?
The highlight dearest to me is watching the growth and success of my students. There is no more special moment than hearing from a former student about the positive role that statistics has played in his or her life – both personally and professionally. I have also been blessed to have the support of UGA to devote my research and professional service to helping to grow the field of statistics education, especially K-12. One of my most rewarding professional endeavors was spending the academic year (2008-09) housed in the UGA mathematics education department working with and learning from the mathematics education faculty and graduate students.
How does your research or scholarship inspire your teaching, and vice versa?
I continually strive to become a better teacher. My professional work in student learning, curriculum, and the pedagogy of delivering statistics content are intertwined with the culture of my classrooms. I am always searching for better ways to inspire and prepare students to become statistical thinkers based on research and experience. Writing two statistics textbooks (one for the first two college introductory courses and one a sports- related text for high school) has made an enormous impact on my teaching. So much of the driving force with the content and structure of these textbooks was based upon student input and lessons learned in the classroom.
What do you hope students gain from their classroom experience with you?
Foremost, I want all my students to feel that I care about them as individuals. Every student is special with unique goals and assets. I want to help all my students feel successful in learning the course content and in moving forward with their future plans. And naturally, I desire that my students come to appreciate the beauty of statistics and the importance of statistical reasoning!
Describe your ideal student.
My ideal student is one who sincerely wants to learn and is not focused solely on a grade, who, even though possibly uncomfortable with the content, comes to class eager to contribute, who is respectful of everyone in the class and enjoys collaboration with fellow students, and who is willing to take risks and think outside the box.
Favorite place to be/thing to do on campus is…
The classroom with my students. Outside the classroom, Foley Field, where I watch and keep my personal scorebook of the Georgia baseball games.
Beyond the UGA campus, I like to…
Spend time with my husband and two sons. I am a devoted runner (although slower each year) and an avid reader. This summer I completed a 90-mile trek over 11 days in the backcountry with my two sons, two UGA colleagues, and seven other scouts at the Boy Scout ranch Philmont in New Mexico. This was my third trip, and the memories are irreplaceable.
Community/civic involvement includes….
Serving as an adult adviser with the boy scouts and as the co-leader of the high school confirmation class at my church. I also served 10 years on the Oconee County School Board, seven of which I was the chair.
My favorite book is the Pulitzer Prize-winning Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner. My favorite movie is Blade Runner.
Proudest moment at UGA?
My selection and induction into the UGA Teaching Academy. I am continually inspired by the outstanding teaching faculty at UGA. As a mom, my proudest moment was when my oldest son graduated from UGA with a bachelor of science degree in statistics.