Emma Zohner, a third-year doctoral student in statistics at Rice University, has received a Ford Foundation Fellowship honorable mention.
“It feels good,” she said. “It’s a great fellowship and is super competitive, so it’s encouraging. This is a sign that I’m doing good work and that I should keep applying myself.”
The Ford Foundation has a commitment to ethnic and racial diversity, and through its fellowship program seeks to increase diversity in academia at colleges and universities throughout the United States.
Zohner’s work currently focuses on functional and shape data encountered in cancer, neurological imaging and wearable computing. As part of her work, she’s developing methods of selecting variables in data as well as make inferences through statistical modeling of distributions.
She is advised by Jeffrey Morris, distinguished professor and deputy chair of Biostatistics at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
Zohner said she was drawn to statistics because of its real-world applications. “I think something that people do not understand is how applicable statistics is to just about any field,” she said. “As long as you have questions in data, you can use statistics to answer them.”
She encourages Rice students to apply for fellowships and not be intimidated by the process. “It sounds scary at first because you think, ‘I am going to apply and compete against awesome people,’ but if you are at Rice you probably have a story to tell that will be compelling,” she said. “Rice also has a lot of resources to help, and one thing is to take advantage of those resources.”
Zohner earned a B.S. in mathematics/economics from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2004; an M.S. in financial engineering from Claremont Graduate University in 2008; and an M.S. in mathematical statistics from Wichita State University in 2010.