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Adventures in Data Science: An Astronomer Takes the Road Ever-More-Often Traveled By

Date: Wed. April 1st, 2015, 11:00 am-1:00 pm
Location: Sears 552

Adventures in Data Science: An Astronomer Takes the Road Ever-More-Often Traveled By

Craig Rudick, University of Kentucky

About two years ago I left my Astronomy postdoc position for a job in the “real” world. Since then I’ve been a Data Scientist at the University of Kentucky (in the IT Department on the staff/business side), analyzing UK’s internal data on students, faculty, classes, and other business operations. The first half of my talk will be about career issues: what a data scientist is, how and why I became one, lessons learned from job hunting, transferrable skills for students (and their advisors) to focus on, and other thoughts on jobs in and out of astronomy/physics/academia. In the second half, I will discuss analyses and results from my data science work at UK. One of my major areas of focus is building statistical models to understand the factors which drive undergraduate student success and identifying students who are likely to be “at risk”. Among our findings are that unmet financial need is in many ways more influential than academics in driving retention, standardized test scores are a poor (and almost counter-productive) tool for making admissions decisions, and that at least one major UK strategic initiative – the Living Learning Program – is showing little evidence of improving student outcomes.

Page last modified: May 29, 2015