Name: Evan Ray
Title: Assistant Professor
Department: Mathematics and Statistics
Research focus: Evan Ray’s research explores improving statistical methods used by public health researchers and decision-makers. His dissertation focused on methods for classifying physical activity according to its type and intensity using accelerometer data. In his postdoctoral work, Ray developed methods for predicting the timing and severity of the spread of infectious disease, including applications to influenza in the United States and dengue fever in Puerto Rico.
What drew you to your area of study: I’ve always liked math, and I majored in it as an undergraduate. But I was also interested in a variety of other fields, like psychology, landscape architecture, economics, sociology and physics. I decided to pursue statistics because it uses math to answer interesting questions in many fields.
What appeals to you about being a professor at Mount Holyoke: The statistics program at Mount Holyoke is nationally known for its high quality and innovative teaching. I’m honored and excited to have the chance to be a part of that. Because Mount Holyoke has a tradition of innovation, I’ve been given a lot of freedom to try new ideas. The College in general, and the math and statistics department in particular, has a supportive teaching environment.
What do you like about teaching: Teaching statistics empowers students to use data to learn about the world. It's exciting and fun to share this with my students.
What do you look forward to at Mount Holyoke: I’m looking forward working with students on data analysis and research, and finding new opportunities for collaboration.
Favorite previous volunteer experiences: I have volunteered for the Northampton Survival Center for the last five years. I have a weekly shift as a pantry facilitator, which means that I stock shelves, clean up spills, take in food donations, help clients out to their cars and generally do anything else that needs doing. It’s the most worthwhile work I do, and my shift-mates and I have a lot of fun too.
Favorite things about the campus and region so far: My office is in a castle (Clapp Laboratory) and I have a beautiful view of the mountains. I’ve loved living in the Pioneer Valley for the last nine years. It has beautiful scenery, great local ice cream and a welcoming arts community.
What was your favorite class as an undergraduate: Architecture, Design and Society. This class was a historical survey of major architectural works throughout history, from the Great Pyramids and Stonehenge up through modern times. With each of these structures, we learned about how their designs were inspired and constrained by the cultures that built them.
What do you like to do when you are not working: I’m an amateur guitarist. I play mostly blues, country and folk, and a little jazz. I also like hiking and canoeing.
Favorite book, author, music, movie/TV: I recently enjoyed “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel. Music: Tal Farlow (jazz guitarist). TV: “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.”
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