MS ASTAT Alumni Messages

Our graduates are readily employed by companies such as American Express, Research Triangle Institute, pharmaceutical companies, and state and federal agencies. As students in our masters program, they received extensive training and experience in statistical consulting in a practical hands-on manner. Below, our alumni talk about their successful careers in which they have used their graduate degree for social good.

Find out about our Applied Statistics Graduate Current Use Scholarship.


Darren James (2014)

Darren James

Darren James

Darren James (M.S. Applied Statistics, May 2014) never intended to be a statistician. As an undergrad at Cornell University (B.S. Natural Resources and Biology, May 2003) he became involved in ecological research, eventually working as a field and lab technician in wetland ecology and biogeochemistry.

In 2004 he moved to Las Cruces to work in rangeland management and restoration research for USDA-ARS Jornada Experimental Range, first through NMSU and later as a federal employee.

At the Jornada, Darren participated in a wide variety of research projects as a Biological Science Technician. His primary role was in data collection but he was fortunate enough to assist with designing experiments and analyzing data. After several years he decided that, even though it didn’t seem like quite the right fit, taking his career to the next level meant becoming a research scientist. At NMSU he pursued graduate degrees in Wildlife Science and Range Science before finding his niche in the Applied Statistics department. In 2015 he accepted a position as Statistician at the Jornada.

What Darren enjoys most about being a statistician are the diverse applications it offers and the wide variety of people with whom he works; as John Tukey said, “you get to play in everyone’s backyard.” Even though transitioning to a desk job has proven difficult, Darren enjoys the intellectual and technical challenges the job poses. His current interests are Generalized Linear Mixed Models and Reproducibility Research, but those are sure to change as the practice of statistics continues to grow and evolve.

Songie (Tim) Gao (2013)

Songie (Tim) Gao, Applied Statistics alum (2013). (Submitted photo)

Songie (Tim) Gao, Applied Statistics alum (2013). (Submitted photo)

I am working for Toyota Financial Services (TFS) as a Senior Financial Analyst-Insurance Analytics. My duties include analyzing key business drivers, revenues, and expenses; developing and implementing financial forecasting models and identifying risks and opportunities of our insurance product; monitoring the performance of each product; applying statistical and risk analysis techniques to structure and model complex analytical problems; and generating various ad hoc analyses and reports. Prior to joining TFS, I worked at Check Into Cash as a risk analyst.

I received solid statistical knowledge and problem solving abilities from my graduate program. Applied Statistics at NMSU focuses on the application of quantitative methods to real-world problems. The theoretical courses gave me the ability to better understand new statistical methods in academic papers. SAS is a very important software for my work. I learned and practiced strong programming skills in SAS, R and SQL courses in NMSU. In summary, the Applied Statistics program at NMSU gave me the foundation for my career success.

Dr. Steve Campbell (1998)

Dr. Steve Campbell

Dr. Steve Campbell

I serve as the Conservation Biologist for the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission.

The Albany Pine Bush Preserve protects one of the best remaining examples of an inland pitch pine-scrub oak barrens, which is a globally-rare ecosystem that supports many of NY’s Species of Greatest Conservation need as well as the federally-endangered Karner blue butterfly.

The Commission is a state government organization that was established to manage the Preserve for its protection and public use.

As the Conservation Biologist for the Commission, I am primarily responsible for designing ecological research and monitoring studies in the Preserve, managing and analyzing the data, and publishing the results as reports and peer-reviewed scientific papers.

I also help out with some of our fieldwork (e.g., bird banding, avian point counts, prescribed fire) and occasionally conduct public education programs.

Chris Knorr (1997)

Chris is currently Vice President, Data Strategy & Governance for the Global Commercial Payments division of American Express. She leads a large, diverse team of data scientists and big-data technologists in the creation of information driven solutions that solve real world problems for corporations across the globe. She is a mentor in the Executive Women’s Interest Network, an executive champion of the company’s virtual workforce network, BlueEN, and an active member in several data governance and data science associations.

Chris Knorr

Chris Knorr

Every day the world becomes more aware of the power of data — whether for good or bad intents. It is the new currency. My interest and passion for deriving positive benefit from information and data was certainly fueled by my time at NMSU.

As a student in the Experimental Statistics program, I was able to marry my love of math with my hobby of solving puzzles. The classroom focus on the practical aspects of statistics coupled with hands on application through internships helped to set me up for career success. The problem-solving skills, real world experience and solid education in statistics and data mining proved to be a valuable blend.

Upon graduating from the program with a Master of Science, I had imagined a career in clinic studies and experiments. What I quickly found was an emerging niche for data analysis, tightly linked to the fast growing world of technology, across a wide variety of industry sectors. Over my last 14 years with American Express, I have leveraged my NMSU education every day — whether building predictive forecasts to help customers optimize spending or proposing new organizational strategies. The advice I give my team on success is to love what you do and take every opportunity to go beyond what anyone would have expected possible.


Applied Statistics Graduate Current Use Scholarship

There are a number of ways you can make a contribution to the Applied Statistics Graduate Current Use Scholarship. Please contact Bill Gould if you have any questions.

Check. If you write a check, please make it out to the NMSU Foundation with “Applied Statistics Graduate Current Use Scholarship” in the subject line.

Online. Make a secure credit card payment at NMSU’s Foundation website.

  1. Amount: Select or type in the amount you want to give.
  2. Fund: Click the dropdown arrow.
  3. Select: “Search for a fund not listed.”
  4. In the Keyword box, type: Applied Statistics.
  5. Click on: “Applied Statistics Graduate Current Use Scholarship.”

The scholarship’s fund name is now on the form. Continue filling out the form.