Statistics is more than just math. Statistical analysis is used all of the time, in all areas, and can be an important tool to help improve the condition of the world.

Owais Gilani

Statistics and democracy go together like peanut butter and jelly, according to Professor Owais Gilani, mathematics.

"Statistical thinking involves critical analysis of what a person is reading and the conclusions drawn from it," he explains. "Productive citizenship, particularly in a democratic society, requires us to make those sorts of decisions."

While Gilani has a global view of his discipline, his work as a biostatistician focuses on public health. Like others in his area of study, he wants to make sure his work and research help improve the human condition.

When he learned about the field of biostatistics and public health as a student who majored in math and international studies, he knew he'd found the perfect combination. He points out that as the world becomes more reliant on technology, pollution levels will rise, causing an immense impact on human health.

On a personal level, Gilani is concerned with his native Pakistan's environment and people. He sees statistics as one way to address pollution on multiple levels, from assessment to mitigation.

There's also a social aspect to his work. Often the level of exposure to pollutants is linked to socioeconomic status. He notes that in Detroit, where he has conducted research, neighborhoods near industrial sites bear a huge burden of environmental pollution. Their residents have low socioeconomic status and are at a disadvantage as far as having a voice on these issues.

Bucknell's liberal arts curriculum feeds directly into Gilani's global view and interests, especially interdisciplinary research and teaching. He looks forward to collaborating with faculty members and students from different areas.

He says that he wants to interact with students of diverse academic backgrounds and help them learn to appreciate how "statistics is more than just math. Statistical analysis is used all of the time — in all areas — and can be an important tool to help improve the condition of the world."

Posted Oct. 7, 2016

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