A History of STATCOM at the University of Michigan

The STATCOM chapter at the University of Michigan was founded in December 2006, after a visit from Amy Watkins of Purdue University, who was one of the original founders of the student-run pro-bono consulting group. Encouraged by Prof. Rod Little and Bhramar Mukherjee, Michael Elliott was the original faculty adviser, and Maria Larkin the first president. Our first project involved reviewing surveys and discussing sampling with Career Alliance, a non-profit workforce development organization in Flint, MI, to help them assess discrepancies between health care training opportunities and health care job openings in Genesee County. Since then STATCOM-UM has had eight student presidents, a faculty co-adviser (Cathie Spino), several faculty project advisers, and approximately 100 student volunteers from Biostatistics, Statistics, and Survey Methodology. We have worked on over 40 projects for non-profits, primarily (but not exclusively) in the southeast Michigan area. Some projects are short, involving perhaps one or two meetings and discussions; others involve development of surveys or databases; and yet others involve full scale analysis and report writing. A project with the Detroit Health Department and Public Schools allowed a unique assessment of the impact of lead levels as a young school on school performance in elementary and middle school, which in turn resulting in publications in the American Journal of Public Health and Observational Studies. The impact of this work continues as we assisted in the estimation of the impact of lead in the Flint water system on the long term academic performance of children.

Currently led by Stephen Salerno, Emily Morris, and the largest team yet assembled in the history of STATCOM, we move forward into our second decade of Maize and Blue student statistical consulting, helping to make the world a better place one analysis at a time.