Six Duke Students Win Undergrad Stats Competition Honors

Logos of ASA and CAUSE

With projects ranging from healthcare to the judicial system to professional athletics, six Duke students earned recognition during the Fall 2021 Undergraduate Statistics Project Competition (USPROC).

In the Undergraduate Statistics Research Project category – a competition for research projects conducted by undergraduate statistics and data science students – two Duke students mentored by Professor Yue Jiang received top honors.

Linda Tang was awarded first place for her project, “Psychiatric Comorbidity in Opioid Use Treatment Outcomes.” This study, utilizing the 2019 Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, examines the relationship between psychiatric comorbidity and the incidence of opioid treatment completion/dropout to assess whether this relationship is dependent on the race of the client.

Lillian Clark received second place for her project, “Waiting for Trial: A Case Study of Detention Times Prior to Sentencing.” With the project, Clark conducted survival analysis of Bureau of Justice data to determine whether a person’s race is associated with the length of time they were detained in jail prior to trial.

“I am so excited for Linda’s and Lilly’s achievements in winning these nationally competitive awards,” said Professor Jiang. “Their submissions were actually class projects from the senior capstone course in applied statistics during the Fall 2021 semester and I know firsthand the incredible amount of time and energy they devoted to them. I am especially proud of this hard work, and their ability to use statistics to answer research questions that they were personally interested in.”

In the Undergraduate Statistics Class Project competition, a team of Duke students – Kevin Kavilaveettil, Matthew O’Donnell, Eric Zhang and Gian Castillero – received second place recognition in introductory statistics for their “Blue Blood Basketball” project. The team was mentored by Professor Maria Tackett.

“Blue Blood Basketball” examines the skill set and NBA success-rate of players from five widely recognized “blue blood” programs – Duke, UNC, Kansas, Kentucky and UCLA. The project analyzed these school’s NBA-drafted players between 2000 and 2016 to see if they performed better than other players drafted during that period.

“I am thrilled this team's project was recognized as a top finisher in the statistics class project competition,” said Professor Tackett. “Kevin, Matthew, Eric, and Gian worked really hard and were thoughtful about how they used visualizations and statistical results to tell a story about NBA performance outcomes for players from different universities. Their work demonstrates the in-depth and creative analysis students can achieve in the introductory course!”

The Undergraduate Statistics Project Competition, which is held each Spring and Fall, is designed to encourage the development of statistics and data science skills, to enhance presentation skills, and to recognize outstanding work by undergraduate statistics and data science students. The competition is organized by the Consortium for the Advancement of Undergraduate Statistics Education (CAUSE) and the American Statistical Association.