Election Results – Fall 2020 for Spring 2021

QASR held board elections for the remainder of the 2020-2021 academic year on Friday, December 4.

The new board members are:

  • President: Christina Lv
  • Vice President: Samantha Li
  • Treasurer: Connie Xu
  • Secretary: Lavanya N
  • Digital media coordinator: Zehui Wang
  • Alumni outreach coordinator (co-chaired): Cheng Zhong

The continuing board members are:

  • Alumni outreach coordinator (co-chaired): Garda
  • Community outreach coordinator: Alison
  • Communications coordinator: Arielle

Currently, QASR is in the process of organizing virtual events for Spring 2021.

Alumni Interview Series: Sally Son

Hi! It’s a new semester in unprecedented (*people need to stop using this word*) times but not all things need to be unprecedented! We are happy to resume our alumni interview series. Our alumni interview series showcases the most interesting QMSS alumni from a diverse set of fields and industries so this is a great opportunity to figure out what your interests might be after graduation.

First up in the 2020-2021 series is our amazing alumna Sally Son ’19!

Hi, Sally! Thanks for doing this interview. To start, what is your job title, company name and location?
Data Analyst 2. Stanford University School of Engineering. Palo Alto, California.

What do you do in your current role? What does that look like day-to-day?
In short, I do institutional research to help the school make data-driven decisions.
I analyze various kinds of data that the school has on topics such as student enrollment, finance, fundraising, faculty life, and human resources and help the school leverage data-driven insights in making its decisions.

On an ordinary work day, I might pull fresh data from the database, do some exploratory analyses using R, and find any unusual outliers or missing data. After cleaning the data, I’d plug the data to Tableau Desktop to create visualizations and publish dashboards on the school’s Tableau server. Finally, I’d share the updated dashboards with my team and the leadership along with some summaries of what’s new, concerning, or important.

What skills are most important in your current position and field?
I’d say the two very important skills in my current position and field are 1) attention to details and changes and 2) critical thinking skills that would help you decode the story that the data is telling. With attention to details and changes, you identify flaws, missing information, outliers, and odd observations in your data.
Then using critical thinking skills, you ask yourself why there are outliers and flaws in order to tackle challenges using your data-driven insights.

How did QMSS help you with your career?
QMSS prepared me with quantitative skills such as being able to use R and Python to analyze and model data.
More importantly, QMSS influenced how I work with data.
The three things that I keep in mind when I work with data are reproducibility, repeatability, and responsibility.

What is your favorite class at QMSS?
I liked all the classes I took at QMSS, and if I had to choose, I would choose Advanced Analytic Techniques and GIS & Spatial Analysis in Social Sciences.

What advice do you have for current students who want to get into your field?
To set yourself ahead of others in data analytics in higher education, I’d say look into creating data visualizations with Tableau Desktop, survey design, and program evaluation method.

This or that:
1. Beach or mountains?
2. Waffles or pancakes?
Hmm…this is tough because I love all forms of brunch. If I must choose, it’d be waffles.
3. Dogs or cats?
Ah, this is also a tough question because I’m allergic to cats and afraid of dogs.
But I will say I like looking at cute puppies from far away.
4. City or countryside?

Thank you again for the interview, Sally!

Election Results – Fall 2020

QASR held board elections for the 2020-2021 academic year on Friday, September 25.

The new board member results are:

  • Alumni outreach co-coordinator: Gretchen Streett, Garda Ramadhito
  • Co-Secretary: Christina Lv, Samantha Li
  • Communications co-coordinator: Connie Xu, Arielle Herman
  • Community outreach co-coordinator: Alison Ryland, Yuelin Li
  • Digital media coordinator: Alison Ryland

Sydney (Bolim) Son remains president, and Wenxuan Dan remains treasurer.

Currently, QASR is in the process of organizing virtual events for the rest of the academic year, including datathons, happy hours, and guest speaker lectures.

Election Results – Spring 2020

On January 31st, QASR had its first board elections of the year. The previous holders of these particular board seats graduated this winter (congratulations!) and the positions of President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Alumni Chair and Community Outreach Coordinator were up for grabs. All ASGC (the Arts and Sciences Graduate Council) student organizations have a very detailed constitution. Accordingly, these elections were open to all GSAS students and were conducted through a written ballot. 

 Our new President was elected after an election between Sydney (Bolim) Son and Andrej Arpas. Both of these current QMSS students had passionate ideas about the direction QASR should head in this semester which contributed to the dynamics and themes of the new QASR board.  

 Interestingly enough, this semester we have a Statistics student as our Alumni Chair and the membership of the QASR board is larger than ever. This is the new list of QASR board members:

President – Sydney (Bolim) Son

Vice-President – Paarth Malkan 

Treasurer – Katie Aszklar

Secretary – Milton Liu

Alumni Chair – Wenxuan Dan

Community Outreach Coordinator – Carissa Caccia

Communications Coordinator – Dharini Srinivasan

Digital Media Coordinator – Sayali Nagwekar

QASR Representative to ASGC  – Louis Nix

 Currently, QASR is in the process of organizing several new events and workshops for QMSS and GSAS students. Watch this space for upcoming events from the new QASR team! Additionally, we have meetings every other Tuesday from 3.00 to 5.00 pm, which are open to all.  

 QASR welcomes the new board members and congratulates the old ones who have undertaken newer responsibilities!

Multi-Industry Advising Panel (Fall 2019)

Multi-Industry Advising Panel (Fall 2019)

On December 6, 2019, QASR and QMSS jointly hosted the Multi-Industry Advising Panel, a career development event which brought together five data professionals from different industries to provide career advice to QMSS students. The panelists included Nikole Williams, Edmond Wong, Wayne Lee, Reza Rad and Marco Morales.

QMSS students fully packed the room to listen firsthand to the panelists, and the panelists did not disappoint! The event started with questions posed to the professionals by the event’s moderators, Paarth Malkan and Bolim (Sydney) Son. The eclectic experiences of the panelists brought out great advice regarding numerous topics, from skills necessary for success in the workplace to company cultures and the impact that has on job satisfaction. Much of the advice came with the simple yet important context of “knowing yourself,” an idea agreed upon by each of the professionals. After the moderators asked their questions, the attendees had the opportunity to pose their own questions directly to the panelists. Following the end of the traditional section of the panel, panelists and students got to casually speak with each other and enjoy the remainder of the event with food and drinks.

The professional success and approachable nature of each panelist made the Friday evening workshop a productive and fun night for the attendees! A big thank you to each panelist and to everyone who attended! 


Alumni Interview Series: Kendall Loh

QASR is happy to announce a new blog feature, the Alumni Interview Series!

Considering the broad scope of what constitutes social science, and the myriad of ways that our skills can be applied, we will be interviewing alumni near and far in order to give prospective students some more insight into the Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences program here at Columbia and post-graduation prospectives. We aim to provide particular attention to alumni who decided to pursue careers outside of New York and thus may not have as many opportunities to bring their valuable insights back to the community.

Our first interview is with Kendall Loh (class of ’19). Kendall is a software engineer at GNS Healthcare in Cambridge, MA, where he does testing on causal machine learning products. He also works with the data science delivery team to produce workflow documentation for pharmaceutical clients.

Could you describe your back ground?

I did my undergrad in biochemistry in upstate New York and worked in hospital outcomes research in Connecticut for a few years right out of college prior to applying to and attending QMSS. Coming in to the program, I had some math and general statistical analysis experience from my research work and undergrad, but not too much coding aside from little raspberry pi-type projects.

What lead you to apply for the QMSS program?

Really two things:
1) A coworker of mine left for QMSS a year before I did and she was having such a good time and learning so much that I couldn’t resist; and
2) We both worked with a lot of smart and hardworking statisticians who were able to work with a huge amount of data and draw insights quickly which was inspiring to watch in real time.
At the time, QMSS seemed like a great way to learn those applied coding and data science skills and make a little bit of a career pivot from biochem, which, I’m happy to report, turned out to be totally true.

Are there any skills, classes, or research opportunities in the program that you found very pertinent to your own goals?

I would say pretty much all of the classes were relevant to my goals. The coursework felt challenging yet accessible, and I learned tangible skills that are directly applicable to the job I have now. The core classes were excellent, Greg, Elena, Meghan and the rest were just awesome. I particularly loved Modern Data Structures and the Data Visualization classes taught by Dr. Brambor – totally worth one or two late nights coding and I use the data wrangling and viz skills every day at work!

Do you have any advice for individuals applying for the program?

We had a subscription to Data Camp which was useful coming in, there are others out there that also work. My work has a subscription to pluralsight, for example. I’d also recommend Coursera or other online resources to learn Python or R or brush up on statistics. Oh, and get to know your classmates, they will be your colleagues when you leave.
Generally, my advice to students and prospective students is just to build things and play around with data you find on Kaggle or wherever. Just like anything else, coding/data science/math skills are things that are ingrained with daily use – keep it light and fun and learn by doing. QMSS can/will give you a solid foundation to stand on, but then it’s your turn to build that foundation into something special.
Special thanks to Kendall for taking the time to speak with us!

Girl’s Science Day (Fall 2019)

On November 16th 2019, QASR members volunteered as experiment leaders at Girl’s Science Day to foster interest and boost confidence in STEM fields for middle school girls. QASR taught about social networks, with a short lecture, worksheet exercise, an experiment, and real-time visualization in RStudio.

Surprisingly, middle school girls were eager to participate and contribute. First, the girls familiarized themselves with social network concepts using various examples, such as the NYC subway system and Snapchat. Afterwards, everyone filled out worksheets and created social network webs with their favorite celebrities, Harry Potter characters, or about themselves.

Finally, there were yarn experiments and real-time visualizations of those networks. Everyone stood around in circles, made statements, and connected with each other using colored yarns. Every girl was a node, and yarn was used as edges. Then, the physical yarn connections were coded and visualized. This interactive exercise facilitated interest about social networks and coding, which was very fulfilling. It was very nice to create an environment for girls to actively participate in an experiment and empower them.

Details about the event is available here (https://www.girlsscienceday.com/).


Web Scraping Workshop with Python

On October 18th 2019, QASR hosted a web scraping workshop using python’s selenium package, led by QMSS student Yi Yin. It was an interactive workshop where we scraped from the web together. Not many students had web scraping experience, so step-by-step guides and pre-written codes made it easier and more approachable. Web scraping was done on two different websites. For the first, we worked on extracting information from a static page. For the other, Yi guided us on how to automate the whole process from loading the page, searching on the website for the information you want, clicking, extracting different types of information, finally putting the information to an organized table, and even downloading all the related data files! Thank you again Yi for teaching us beautiful automatization.
Information and files used for the workshop can be found in Yi’s github site.


Cloud Computing Workshop ✅

Special thanks to everyone who came out for our first technical workshop of the semester, Cloud Computing with QMSS student Sanjna Shenoy! We got a brief introduction to setting up a Google Cloud instance, installing anaconda, and setting up Jupyter Labs. We’ll be sending out some follow up materials to attendees so that they can recreate this process on their own. Keep an eye out for more technical workshops to be announced that will build on these new skills!

QASR/QMSS PhD Application Panel

QASR/QMSS PhD Application Panel

Friday, November 7, 6:00PM
Columbia University Lerner Hall, Room 569

Co-sponsored by QMSS and QASR, the PhD Application Panel is an opportunity for master’s students to connect and communicate with current PhD candidates from Economics, Political Science, Sociology,and Statistics disciplines. The speakers will share their research interests, paths to their areas of expertise, and experiences applying to doctoral programs. Students will have the opportunity to ask questions and collect practical information in preparation for their own doctoral application. 

Light refreshments will be provided!

Attendee: The event is open to all current Columbia students and QMSS alumni. Participants who do not have an active Columbia ID must be added to a pre-approved guest list to have access to Lerner Hall. 

Space is limited; advance registration is required. RSVP https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/?sm=wb%2FDB1bTaEDkvxr5itxTxQ%3D%3D