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Statistical Association Digs Into Data for Public Health Competition

By / Oct 11, 2018 (gremlin/E+/Getty Images Plus)

The contest, focused on the opioid crisis, aims to encourage students to take a deeper dive into the potential of a career in statistics—while highlighting the value of public data.

The American Statistical Association’s secret to drawing in new generations of statisticians might reside somewhere in the vast amounts of public data out there.

That data, particularly in regard to the opioid crisis, is at the center of ASA’s Public Health Data Challenge, announced this week. The challenge, targeted at high schoolers and college undergraduates, calls on applicants to come up with their own solutions to the opioid crisis, based on statistical analysis or visualization involving the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s WONDER Multiple Cause of Death dataset.

It’s the second such data challenge that the association has put on (last year ASA focused on police data), but the first focused on public health.

The association’s Donna LaLonde, who heads its strategic initiatives and outreach, says the goal of the program is to highlight the sheer breadth of the work that statisticians do, while giving participants a chance to play with real data.

“The Public Health Data Challenge provides an opportunity for students to use their statistics skills to analyze a real problem and better understand how they can use their knowledge to contribute to the solution of challenging problems,” LaLonde explained in a news release. “Statisticians make an impact in a variety of different fields, including public health. As more data become available, students have the opportunity to learn how they can use statistics to address national issues like opioid abuse.”

Those interested in joining up have until November 12 to submit a presentation, with awards handed out in three categories: best overall analysis, best visualization, and best use of external data. Potential prizes include $50 Amazon gift cards, complimentary ASA memberships, a T-shirt commemorating the event, and promotion of their efforts through ASA marketing channels.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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