Student Profile: Deborah Kunkel

Hi! I am a 5th year student in the Statistics PhD program.  I grew up in Urbana, IL.  Before coming to Ohio State I got a B.A. in Business with a Spanish concentration from the University of Dallas.  After graduation, I stayed in Dallas for a bit and served on an AmeriCorps team for a summer and then worked as an office manager at an ESL school.  I started school here in 2012 and might finish this December, or the following spring.

My adviser is Mario Peruggia and we are working on choosing priors for Bayesian mixture models.  Mixtures are really useful, but not very well-behaved, so choosing priors can be tricky.  In the course of writing my thesis, I plan to apply some of our ideas to a model for human trafficking data. I’ve also done some research on missing data methodology and modeling response times with a professor of psychology.  It’s been very cool to get to work on such a variety of projects during my short time here.

I am currently a TA for the online section of STAT 1450.  We have more students this semester than ever before, and some are even outside of the US this semester.  I’ve worked with the online course for awhile now, and it’s been really interesting to see how students learn in this setting.  We touch base briefly each week with them through office hours, and I’m usually impressed by how much they have learned independently since I “saw” them last.  Earlier in my time at OSU, I also lectured for 1430 and TAed for 1350.

When I’m not studying in Cockins Hall, some of my favorite things to do in Columbus include:

  • Plays at the OSU theater department
  • “Wake and Shake,” an early morning dance party at Wild Goose Creative
  • Free magic shows at P3 magic theater
  • Volunteer events through Columbus Gives Back
  • Getting coffee at Stauf’s in Grandview
  • Red White and Boom (fireworks) on the 4th of July

I also love to throw themed parties, attend weddings, and watch Gilmore Girls on Netflix.  I travel to North Carolina and Georgia often to see my family.   (I have two older sisters and am expecting my third niece in March! ) Next on my list of places to visit is New Orleans.

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