Using Data to Tell Stories That Solve Problems
For Alyson Wilson, the best part of being a statistician is “getting to play in everybody’s sandbox.”
“We get to interact with so many different scientists who have cool and interesting problems,” said Wilson, a professor of statistics at NC State.
Wilson first saw the power of data analysis to make lives better as she worked on analyzing data from clinical trials during a college internship. “I realized statistics and math could change people’s lives and even find new drugs to save them,” she said.
From that point, her passion for using data analysis to tell stories and solve big problems has only grown. Now, as principal investigator for the Laboratory for Analytic Sciences, she helps bring together some of the brightest minds from government, academia and industry to develop strategies for analyzing big data sets to understand real-world challenges, including human trafficking, nuclear nonproliferation and political unrest. The lab, headquartered on Centennial Campus, is a partnership between NC State and the National Security Agency.
Open collaboration among professionals with different areas of expertise is the key to the group’s work. “We all bring something different to the table, and that diversity of perspectives is really powerful,” Wilson said.