After writing the post on Teaching statistics with JMP last month, I didn’t think about a follow-on post since we had so many wonderful comments. But when we heard from Roger Hoerl at Union College about the thesis his student, Keilah Creedon, wrote (using JMP for the designed experiment part), it seemed a great opportunity to call attention to some good work.
Roger is also co-author with Presha Neidermeyer of Use What You Have: Resolving the HIV/AIDS Pandemic. Roger kindly shared a copy of this book, which takes a statistical-thinking approach to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. In his words: “We have a disease that’s preventable and it’s treatable and billions of dollars have been spent on it. It’s the most studied disease in history and yet millions of people are still dying. Why? How can this be? It doesn’t add up.”
Thus, he chose to spend a sabbatical he was awarded studying this pandemic and writing about it. He and his co-author take a long-term look at a complex problem, recognizing that change is constant and that you have to look at the big picture with a goal of incremental improvement over time.
Keilah’s thesis, "Evaluating the Connection Between Gender Based Violence and HIV/AIDS," takes a statistical-thinking approach as well. She focused on one of the goals of the United Nations joint program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) of eliminating gender inequalities, which includes addressing violence — a key risk factor for women with HIV.
She expanded one of UNAIDS' Excel-based models to incorporate the effect of gender-based violence with a sensitivity analysis of the revised model, using a designed experiment approach. The results indicate that gender-based violence is a significant contributor to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and that addressing gender-based violence should be an important goal of the HIV/AIDS response. But Keilah’s statistical thinking didn’t stop there. She went on to point out many ways to address gender-based violence and noted a few programs that seem particularly promising (Stepping Stones and One Man Can).
It has been said that teaching is the most noble profession. Students who learn how to think statistically is a gift that can keep on giving, a philosophy of learning and action that makes the world a better place. Our thanks to all the teachers and mentors who inspire statistical thinking and to the students who are motivated to put this skill to good use.