“I have an interesting perspective because I know what it is like to be a student going through a program in our department at the Fox School,” says Lauren Burns, assistant professor of instruction in the Department of Statistical Science. “It makes my experience a little different as a faculty member because it has not been that long since I went through it myself.”
Before beginning her career at the Fox School, Burns became a Temple Owl twice-over, earning both her Masters and Doctorate degrees in Statistics here. She also studied at Muhlenberg College, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and Economics.
The reason Burns has shaped her educational and professional career at Temple echoes why she finds the Fox School’s Master in Business Analytics program so unique.
“Other than location, the thing I love most about our department and programs is that they are housed within the business school. When you’re in a statistics or math-related field, it’s easy to get caught up in the theory and forget about the real-world relevance of the work you’re doing. But at the Fox School, statistics is not siloed.”
As a student and faculty member, Burns has built connections with other departments—working with colleagues in, for example, finance, accounting and marketing—inspiring her research and collaborations to enhance her approach to curricula.
Burns’ research interests include survival analysis, high-dimensional data and dimension reduction. She focuses mostly on applications in Biostatistics dealing with microarray gene expression data.
“In a recent course, I worked with a faculty member from Human Resource Management and acquired some HR data that I was able to use in my classes. These connections help keep our stat courses relevant—we’re not just teaching students theory, but pulling data from other real fields. Because we’re in a business school, it’s easier for us to do that.”
Because the field of data analytics is so vast, this exposure to other fields is beneficial for future professionals. From small startups and healthcare corporations to sports and the entertainment industry, analytics are everywhere.
The opportunities within the field of business analytics are limitless no matter which secondary industry a person is interested in, according to Burns—and she knows from experience.
The Center for Statistical Analysis (CSA), housed within the Fox School Department of Statistics and led by Professor Pallavi Chitturi, provides professional statistical consulting support and training to Temple faculty, researchers, and students; and to external clients in the wider business, science, industry and government sectors.
“I’ve gotten some hands-on experience with real applications through CSA,” says Burns. “I’ve done projects with people both in and outside of Temple in different fields, including the U.S. State Department. It’s given me a really nice outside perspective that I can bring into the classroom.”
This allows Burns to apply new skills and experiences to her own career and the future careers of her students.
“One of the main experiential learning pieces I focus on is exposing students to large data sets they would see in their workplaces. There’s some messy data—they need to learn how to clean it, analyze it and present it in a useful manner. The goal is for students at all levels to take analyses and learn to present them in a way that anyone in the business world could understand.”