Sarah Tooth, a fifth-year graduate student in statistics, died of cancer Oct. 30 at age 26. She was remembered by her parents as a “bright angel, warrior, kind heart and quick mind.”
“Sarah came to Rice literally while taking a walk as an M.D. Anderson Cancer Center patient in the summer of 2010,” said John A. Dobelman, a professor in the practice in statistics and Tooth’s doctoral adviser. “Duncan Hall was the only building open, and after admiring the ceiling she struck up a conversation with someone on the statistics staff whose daughter had just moved to Sarah’s hometown of Calgary, Alberta.”
Tooth had earned a B.S. in chemistry from Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, in 2009. She had already been accepted to graduate school at Brown and Princeton when she wandered onto the Rice campus.
“When she found out that faculty in the department might be interested in her, she wasted no time in speaking with them,” Dobelman said. “They discovered her love of mathematics and desire to pursue a degree in statistics.”
Tooth was accepted into the professional master’s program in statistics in August 2010 and graduated the following May. Then she entered the Master of Arts statistics program, successfully defended her thesis in November 2012 and was admitted to the Ph.D. program in January 2013. She completed three papers, one of which was published, and was working on her dissertation at the time of her death.
Tooth taught courses in market models and securities analysis to undergraduates and graduate students and served as an adviser on undergraduate senior design projects.
“She loved Rice and considered it her home,” Dobelman said. In addition to her academics, Tooth was a climbing instructor in Rice Outdoor Programs and Education (ROPE). She was active in the Rice Graduate Student Association (GSA) and designed the 2014-15 GSA T-shirt.
As a member of the Rice Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), Tooth helped restore and make track-worthy a 1995 BMW M3. A racing enthusiast, Tooth was a member of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA); last April she was co-recipient of the SCCA’s Wendi Allen Scholarship. Tooth finished second in the Street Touring FWD Ladies class in her 2013 debut at the Tire Rack Solo National Championships.
Tooth participated in the weekly Richmond Arms Pub trivia contest with other Rice graduate students and arranged her chemotherapy schedule around these competitions.
She was treated at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton, Alberta. She is survived by her parents, Jeff and Julie Tooth, and her younger sister, Emma. The family held a celebration of her life Nov. 7 at the Eden Brook Memorial Gardens and Funeral Home in Calgary, Alberta.
Rice will hold a memorial service for Tooth at Cohen House from 5 to 8 p.m. Nov. 13.