Benefits of Biometrics
I read the profile about Ken Yasukawa’s biostatistics course in the [spring 2013] magazine, and it brought back good memories of my years at Beloit. I took the biostatistics course in 1998 or 1999—my memory is a bit fuzzy on the specific year. It was back in the days of old PowerMacs, JMP, and ejecting Zip drives with bent paperclips.
I finished my Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin School of Pharmacy, with four more semesters of research design and statistics, and now I’m a post-doc at Dartmouth College in the Center for Medicine and Media. I study drug marketing and advertising.
After reading the profile, I realized I had my biostatistics textbook (Zar 4th ed.) sitting on the shelf in my office. I refer to it often, especially when it comes to power calculations for tests. Looking back, I actually cited Zar when estimating the sample size and power of the primary analysis in my dissertation.
It was so great to see the article about biometrics in Beloit College Magazine. Even my Duke University, graduate-level applied statistics course doesn’t come close to how much I learned in Ken’s biometrics course!
I was pleased to read the article about Ken Yasukawa and to see that he is still inspiring Buccaneers. My first reaction to the opening line of “How to Teach Quantitative Literacy” was to question what the upper and lower measurements were of the entire body of water! Alas, the power of a Beloit College education!
As a diagnostic early childhood special education teacher, I am continually in a position to apply my lessons from Biometrics and my coursework as a biology major. I use the interdisciplinary lessons I learned at Beloit when I make decisions that inform my instruction and evaluation of young children.
Furthermore, when presenting to my colleagues and the school board, I also remember so many of the lessons learned from my senior seminar course with Ken (i.e., make sure your audience can read the font size, keep the slides simple, no clicking pens, etc.).
Lastly, my children are reminded of the presence of red-winged blackbirds whenever we are on a drive or walk in the country, too!
Arlington Heights, Ill.
Humanities and the Lab
I love the style of your recent Beloit cover. But I loathe the content. Shakespeare in a test tube? No, my wife, who majored in math at Augustana and Michigan, says it’s a beaker.
I remember a lot of endearing things at Beloit, especially among the humanities professors: John Eells and his Matthew Arnoldian approach to Milton, the sere autumn leaves brushing the classroom windows; Chad Walsh’s ethereal, loping gait under the oaks; Fred White’s sardonic philosophic skepticism; Madame Storer’s (everybody called her Madame Storer though she was not a madam/e in either sense) “choses curieuses” commentaries on French literature in the (then) comfortable upper Morse-Ingersoll lounge; Taylor Merrill’s astonishment (or was he party to the pranksters?) at the appearance of a donkey munching hay in his lecture auditorium, or his dressing up as the Republican James G. Blaine one Homecoming around election time.
But labs? I remember wasting spring Saturdays trying desperately to centrifuge and precipitate some “unknown” from a goo supplied by the lab assistant, whose name, along with that of my chemistry teacher, I’ve long since forgotten.
Early in my high school humanities teaching I ran into the concept of a lab. The classroom, with its loudspeaker, had direct dial access to the language lab. But I was always running down to the lab in mid-Russian-lesson to fix the unfurling Wollensack recorder. In Russia on a brief exchange program, there were no language labs. Instead, we just talked (in English) about Hamlet (after getting the student in the habit of sitting down rather than standing up to “recite”).
Please don’t put the humanities in a beaker or in a lab.
-D. Stanley Moore’51
Park Forest, Ill.