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WSU Police partner with student legal group on arrest data

The Student Legal Research Association will help evaluate arrest data from WSU’s police department as part of measures to address racial disparity in arrests on the Pullman campus. The campus police are also taking collaborating with university researchers to address implicit bias.

These actions are part of an effort to address disproportionate arrests of Black people by campus police, a problem identified by a Daily Evergreen article in fall 2019 and a following report by WSU Office of Compliance and Civil Rights (CCR) in May 2020. The term “arrest” in police data includes non-custody interactions such as issuing traffic citations.

David Makin.

The CBTSim program is just one that the WSU campus force will undertake, Gardner said.  The department is working on another project with WSU criminal justice professor David Makin and the Complex Social Interactions Lab where officers will review body camera footage in very specific ways to try to understand the effect their actions have.

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WSU Insider

Explainer: What is statistics?

When describing statements with numbers, people often refer to them as statistics. For instance, if 70 out of 100 students got a B on an English test, that would be a statistic. So would the make-believe statement “90 percent of toddlers love tuna.” But the field of statistics involves much more than a collection of factoids.

Statistics is a different kind of animal than other fields of STEM. Some people consider it to be a type of math. Others argue that while statistics is like math, it’s too different from math subjects to be viewed as part of that field.

Researchers see data all around them. Data are waiting to be gathered from penguin poop and the weather outside. They lurk in the motion of planets and talks with teens about why they vape. But these data alone don’t help researchers get far. Scientists need to think through how they structure their studies to glean meaningful information from these data.

Leslie New.

“I have skills marine biologists need — and those skills are statistics,” says Leslie New. She is a statistical ecologist at Washington State University in Vancouver. New uses statistics to study study marine mammals, such as whales and dolphins.

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Science News for Students

Math professor makes it about more than just numbers

Sergey Lapin.

When he’s not teaching mathematics – from introductory calculus to advanced numerical analysis of elliptic equations – Washington State University math professor Sergey Lapin might be working to speed detection of deadly disease or to expand understanding of European history, Russian language and culture, Chinese economics or higher education in America.

“I’m not the typical mathematician. I’m interested in things beyond that – and I even try to teach those things,” Lapin said, with a self-conscious laugh. “It seems like it’s working okay. The Honors classes are very popular.”

Indeed, the Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Association and United Greek Association at WSU named him “Outstanding Faculty Member” in 2018, and he received the Honors College’s Faculty Award the same year. In 2016, the Associated Students of Washington State University (ASWSU) also honored Lapin with their Exceptional Professor Award and he received the Thesis Advisor Award from the Honors College.

“I enjoy teaching,” he said. “There are different types of instructors – some teach mostly because it’s a requirement, but I like it and I guess that shows.”

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WSU Insider

Data analytics games provide education, professional opportunities, fun

Working to build community among students learning remotely this fall, expert problem solvers in the data analytics program at Washington State University designed course-related games to stimulate interaction while providing some educational fun and valuable professional networking opportunities.

Jan Dasgupta.

In collaboration with academic advisors for the WSU Pullman, Everett, Vancouver, and Global campuses, the program director and statistics professor Nairanjana “Jan” Dasgupta brought together students from across the U.S. outside of class time to play online Data Analytics Bingo and a pandemic-inspired False Positive game.

“Our goal was familiarizing students with the 17 core classes, ranging from mathematics and statistics to philosophy and computer science,” Dasgupta said.

A fast-growing field worldwide, DA is used to solve complex problems often involving large datasets. The core curriculum and multiple specialization tracks in DA at WSU help students develop technical skills and knowledge in specific application areas, along with skills in communication and teamwork.

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International workshop aims to boost number, success of women in STEM

A free, online event on Tuesday, Nov. 17 aims to increase the participation and success of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Presented by Washington State University faculty, “Remedying the Leaky Pipeline for Women in STEM” is a workshop and mentoring/networking event that will bring together mentors and trainees from across the globe in real time. Participants will discuss the barriers women and other underrepresented groups face in pursuing STEM careers and ways of overcoming those hurdles. The event will run 6–9 p.m. PT. Registration is free but required.

Elissa Schwartz.

The three-part, interactive forum will feature live mentoring by women scientists and mathematicians as well as scholars in WSU’s Program in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS). The keynote address will be presented by Seema Nanda, a mathematician and founder of the nonprofit Leora Trust, which promotes the empowerment of women in India through education.

“The story of Dr. Nanda’s career journey and the obstacles she overcame to become a mathematician and start her educational nonprofit foundation is deeply inspiring,” said workshop organizer and WGSS affiliate Elissa Schwartz, an associate professor in both the School of Biological Sciences and the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

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WSU Insider