SDS Newsletter


Ben Baumer


July 18, 2022

This newsletter is mostly a distillation of our Twitter @SmithCollegeSDS feed. Please follow us to see more news, updates, and pictures!

There is also a Facebook group, a Google group, and a Slack. Please help us reach out to other alumnae by having them contact me!

Program Updates

Previous Updates

Faculty Updates

  • Randi Garcia was promoted to associate professor with tenure!
  • Fatou Sanogo got a tenure-track job at Bates! We’re wishing Fatou all the best in her next steps.
  • We hired Kaitlyn Cook as a tenure-track assistant professor. Kaitlyn is a biostatistician coming from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where she completed her doctorate and a postdoc. Her research focuses on methodological development for cluster-correlated and interval-censored data, with a particular emphasis on applications to cluster-randomized HIV (or other infectious disease) prevention studies. Kaitlyn will be teaching a range of statistics courses and may choose to join the steering committee for the new interdepartmental major in Mathematical Statistics (MST).
  • We hired Shiya Cao as a MassMutual assistant professor of statistical and data sciences. Shiya comes to us from WPI, where she completed her PhD in Information Technology. Her research focuses on disability inclusion and broader social inclusion topics. Shiya will be teaching SDS 192 and SDS 100 in her first year.
  • We hired Jared Joseph as a visiting assistant professor for the next two years. Jared just completed his PhD in sociology at UC-Davis. His research uses computational techniques and civic data to uncover patterns of behavior that are otherwise unseen. For example, political networks of prohibition gangsters and bias hidden in the text of academic recruitment. Jared will be teaching SDS 192 an application domain course in his first year.
  • We’ll be searching for two tenure-track positions this year, both of which are joint with other departments!
    • a joint position with the Mathematical Sciences department for a mathematical statistician
    • a joint position with the Physics department for a computational physicist

Ben Baumer

This past year was transitional for me and the department. We’ve brought on a number of outstanding junior faculty members, while also tenuring Randi Garcia! We now have a plan of succession, as Randi has been elected the future Chair of SDS, to start July 2023, when I leave for a full-year sabbatical.

This year I continued to oversee the DSC-WAV project, which is now entering its final year. We published two papers related to this work, a short one in the Harvard Data Science Review and a longer one in Foundations of Data Science. AS part of these efforts I’m working on creating transfer pathways in data science from two-year to four-year colleges in Massachusetts. My collaborators and I also published our thoughts on the tidyverse.

I’m excited to begin the new year with new colleagues!

Shiya Cao

This year’s keywords for me included new and transition. As a newly minted Ph.D., I am looking forward to continuing to conduct disability inclusion and broader social inclusion research and engaging Smithies in these research projects. My doctoral dissertation focused on the critical view of the design of information systems to improve the workplace accommodation process for disabled employees. An initial version was co-published at the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences in 2022. I also conducted digital accessibility research regarding data-based decision making to integrate accessibility guidelines into college curricula, which was co-published at Behavior & Information Technology in 2021. I also have a forthcoming coauthored book chapter titled “The Chains that Bind: Gender, Disability, Race, and IT Accommodations”. I am excited to further explore these research areas with Smithies and help them pay attention to human, social, and emotional elements of data science.

I also can’t wait to start teaching at Smith! I will be teaching SDS 192 and SDS 100 this Fall. I taught an Introduction to Data Science course at WPI for five terms and developed course content including statistics lectures, data visualization labs, programming and machine learning tutorials, assignments, and quizzes. However, there are still things for me to learn with new materials, new platforms, new tools, and new students. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to evolve my teaching strategies, ideas, and philosophies as I grow alongside my students.

Another new thing for me is that I have moved from Central MA to Western MA. This is the first time I have lived in the countryside. I love nature and seeing so much green. However, again, I have many new things to learn, such as gardening, living in harmony with bears. Life is full of adventure. Keep learning, keep improving. I am excited to start my new journey here with great colleagues and great students.

Kaitlyn Cook

I’m incredibly honored and excited to be joining the Statistics and Data Science Program at Smith! I’m coming to Northampton by way of Boston, MA, where I’ve lived for the last seven years: first as a biostatistics graduate student at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and then as a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute. My research focuses on statistical methods development for clinical trials with (a) cluster randomization schemes, wherein entire groups of individuals (such as families, schools, or communities) are collectively assigned to a particular treatment arm, and (b) time-to-event endpoints, where a “time-to-event” endpoint might be something like the time from study enrollment to COVID-19 infection or the time to progression from HIV to AIDS. I published a paper on this topic in Biometrics this past August (a preprint is available here for those who are interested!) and have spent the last year working on both a pediatric sleep medicine trial and a COVID-19 treatment/prevention trial. I’m looking forward to continuing this research while at Smith, as well as to teaching Probability (MTH 246) and Introduction to Probability and Statistics (SDS 220) this fall!

Outside of the classroom, I dedicate myself to watching (too much) reality TV—this past winter I managed to watch all 19 seasons of Top Chef over the course of two and a half months, though sadly without any noticeable improvement in my own culinary skills—and am also an avid reader, an avid Zumba-er, and a sometimes runner.

Randi Garcia

This past Fall semester marked a returned to the classroom! I cannot express how good it felt to get back in there and see all of my students faces (well, half of their faces). Although masking and still being very much in a global pandemic came with challenges, just being in the same room with everyone was amazing. In SDS 290 Design and Analysis I switched textbooks and continued having students design their own individual experiments—an assignment I adopted for remote teaching which I’m happy to have carried over into the in-person course. I also taught (a full semester of) SDS 291 Multiple Regression for the first time! It was nice to get to know this smaller group of students of the course of the semester. My research group continued working on the daily-diary data investigating household and childcare labor among cohabitating couples.

In the Spring semester I worked with a great group of students on the DSC-WAV project. They continued work started by a group at Amherst College creating an equity dashboard for the SPIFFY coallition. My research group analyzed data on a project investigating self-objectification and Zoom use. We hope to submit this research report for publication this summer. I am honored to have received the 2022 Mu Sigma Rho Early Career Undergraduate Impact Award! This award is very meaningful to me as recognition of my work mentoring students in SDS over the years.

The Spring semester also brought two very important pieces of great news for me: 1) I received tenure, and 2) I learned that I’m expecting a baby a September!! I feel so honored to become a permanent member of the faculty at an institution I love. Stay tuned for news on the baby in next year’s newsletter.

Will Hopper

Jared Joseph

This Fall will bring many exciting changes for me as I start my first year at Smith. I’m moving from the West to East coast, progressing from student to professor, and shifting titles from sociologist to data scientist. I see each of these changes as an opportunity to bring the best of my experiences to a new venue.

Bridging the gap between the social and data sciences has always been a passion of mine, and I look forward to continuing to do so in my instruction. As I prepare to teach Introduction to Data Science (SDS 192), I look forward to highlighting the human element in the data we use, and hopefully inviting more social scientists to level up their data skills. As a recent student in the social sciences, I can remember the initial hurdles of reaching beyond my comfort zone, but can also speak to the major ways it has improved my work, and my life in general. As I prepare for this work, I hope to learn more about my new home, as it’s my first time living in this part of the world.

In addition to my teaching, I’ll be focusing on translating my dissertation into publications. I studied how asset forfeiture (basically police seizing private property) is used in California over the past two decades, and the impact such power has on law enforcement actions. I recently got the news that the first paper from this project has been accepted for publication (more details soon). I’ve got 2 more papers planned from this project! For now I get to enjoy the most fun part of the research process (in my opinion), deciding what my next big question will be.

Albert Y. Kim

Hello SDS world! A lot has been going! First, my forest ecology research started to take off. On top of continuing my work with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal VA, I’ve started new collaborations with Harvard Forest in nearby Petersham MA. My collaborators and I have been putting the finishing touches on two big papers about this work, standby! Second, in Fall 2022, SDS 192 Intro to Data Science had a whopping 121 students registered; by far the largest number of students I’ve had! While having this many students presented many new challenges, it was still a rewarding experience; having the Spinelli tutoring center provide both in-class data assistants and evening drop-in tutoring made this possible. Next, I also very much enjoyed acting as the faculty liaison to the SDS Coalition of Color, who this past academic year got officially chartered as an SGA organization. Lastly, but most importantly, my wife and I welcomed the birth of our first child, Georgina “Gigi” Jeewon Kim! Baby Gigi’s interests include making deep baritone burps and listening to baby lullaby renditions of Guns n’ Roses songs:

Katherine M. Kinnaird

Season three of the pandemic was another year like no other. It was great to be back on campus with students chatting about statistics and machine learning. This past fall, I was a co-organizer for the Teaching ML workshop which included a talk by Prof. Alicia Johnson, collaborator and co-author of Miles Ott ’01. (Our next workshop is in September; join us!) I’ve continued working with students on my collaborative NSF TRIPODS+X grant during the academic year and to work virtually with four students through SURF.

I’m teaching both Modeling for Machine Learning (SDS 293) and Computational Machine Learning(CSC294) this fall. Then I’ll be on sabbatical in the spring. Looking forward to seeing everyone again this fall!

Scott LaCombe

I can’t believe I’m beginning my third year at Smith and was so grateful to be able to see and work with student during the last academic year. I have particularly enjoyed working with students on creating a new database of racial disparities in state-level population health outcomes.

In this last year, my co-authored book titled Choosing the Future: Technology and Opportunity in Communities came out, where we explore the political and economic effects of broadband in counties and cities across the United States. I’ve also continued my research on public policy in the American states, and hope to continue working with students to think critically about the data generating process.

This upcoming year, I will be teaching two courses for the Government department in the Fall (Gov 200 and GOV 306) and in the Spring will be teaching Introduction to Probability and Statistics (SDS 220) as well as a seminar in Network analysis in Political Science (SDS/GOV 338- which will count towards your application domain!)

Lindsay Poirier

What a whirlwind of a first year at Smith! It has been such a joy and a privilege getting to know Smith students and colleagues, and I can’t wait for what’s in store in the coming years.

This year I launched the Data Ethnography and Advocacy Lab - a research group focused on investigating the cultural histories of public interest datasets in the United States. A number of exceptional Smith students have helped get this lab off the ground! Based on this work, I published a paper in the conference proceedings for ACM FAccT. The paper highlights a number of concerns around the representativeness and usefulness of “disclosure datasets,” or datasets aggregated from information produced by the same institutions the data is meant to hold accountable. I also published a book chapter in the Handbook for the Anthropology of Technology, detailing the knowledge practices engaged as the EPA works to develop nationwide vehicle emissions estimates. In March, five Smithies (Amrita Acharya, Sena Amuzu, Lara Brown, Juniper Huang, Naomi Liftman, and Molly Zelloe) came with me down to NYC School of Data to present a workshop to NYC civic technologists and city staff on how to examine and narrate the cultural backstories of datasets. I also brought an anthropologist’s perspective to a panel assessing “20 Years of Data Science” at International Data Week this past June.

In the Fall, I’ll be teaching Data and Social Justice (SDS 189) and Introduction to Data Science (SDS 192), and in the Spring, I’ll be teaching Data Ethnography (SDS 237) and Capstone in Statistical & Data Sciences (SDS 410). I hope you’ve soaked up the best of summer, and looking forward to seeing you very soon!

Alumni Updates

  • Emily Flynn ’14: I finished my PhD in Biomedical Informatics at Stanford in summer of 2021 and started a job as a Senior Biological Data Scientist at UCSF, where I am working on a data science team in the department of immunology. I’m really enjoying all the learning in my new role, and helping researchers with exciting projects. In my spare time, I enjoy biking around the bay area, going on gorgeous hikes, and spending time with my cat.

  • Lizzy (Atkins) Offermann ’15: Life has been busy over the last year in the Offermann household! I graduated with my master’s degree in Clinical and Translational Research from George Washington University, changed jobs and now work for an amazing healthcare tech company aiming to make healthcare more accessible for everyone, have continued my work as the Treasurer for the Class of 2015 Cabinet, and recently finished up a busy admissions season as the Smith Club of Baltimore’s Alumnae Admission Coordinator for the tri-state area. Some major professional highlights involve working on all of the data for my company’s COVID-19 Antiviral Treatment Programs across multiple states in the US, our ship-to-home preventative care kit, and most recently our partnership with the CDC and White House to make COVID-19 testing more accessible! My involvement with these three projects and others ranges from data ingestion from the UI, data wrangling, modeling, database creation, analytics, visualization, and working with the customers and stakeholders to fully understand the story their data is telling them. We have open positions on my team and other fabulous teams at Color, so if you are looking to get into healthcare tech - reach out!
    Personally, our twin toddlers are getting closer and closer to turning 5 years old and entering public school - wild how time flies! My husband and I just love to watch them grow, learn, and form into their own little people with full personalities. We have been very thankful to avoid COVID so far and the kiddos are almost fully vaxxed now, too - fingers crossed we can keep it away until they get their final dose!

  • Sara Stoudt ’15: My first year as an assistant professor at Bucknell University is in the books, and now I’m gearing up to teach a first-year seminar in the fall on “Storytelling with Data”. Send me your favorite data stories! Here are some things I’m proud of this year: for the birders, for the teachers, and for the creatives.

What’s next?

Joint Statistical Meetings

Many of us will be at the virtual 2022 Joint Statistical Meetings during the second week of August. Don’t miss these events featuring Smithies!

We hope to see you in person! I’m planning a get together on Tuesday, at The Smith! It’s a couple blocks from the Convention Center, but where else could we possibly meet??


The Smith
901 F STREET NW (at 9th street)
Tuesday, August 9th
5 pm - 6:30 pm


StatFest 2022 will also be virtual in September.

Women in Statistics and Data Science Conference

WSDS 2022 will be in St. Louis in October.