This blog is intended to serve as a venue for our students to practice writing about their research without relying on technical jargon and to provide an accessible overview of some of our current research projects.
In our lab, we focus on developing methodology for data-driven decision-making that is statistically rigorous but also driven by an urgent need in science or society. Thus, in our lab, we train our students to move quickly between high-level scientific questions and statistical methods for answering these questions. For example, the question may be does a safety-plan app lead to reduced suicide attempts among those with major depressive disorder? To address this, we might model a patient’s health trajectory as a semi-Markov Decision Process and test the effect of adding in the app. This skill is critical for statisticians (or other quantitative researchers) working in decision-making as much of our work is motivated by problems in other disciplines; poor communication can lead to incorrect results or the development of useless methodology.
I also hope that this blog will serve as a catalyst for new collaborations, ideas, and insights. Trying to explain research that one has been thinking about for months or years to someone who has thought about it for only a few minutes can be an excellent way to evaluate your own understanding and to identify blind spots that arise because one is too close. If anyone reading this blog finds a project interesting (or thinks we are out to lunch!), please let us know. We’d love to hear from you!