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About Me.

As a statistician, I develop methods and tools to support the use of scientific evidence in decision making in the social, behavioral, and health sciences.


Early instantiations of the 'Evidence Based Decision Making' movement focused on determining ‘what works’ under ideal conditions. But decisions about changes to human behaviors and institutions are complex and involve more than simply knowing how interventions fare under ideal conditions. Throughout my career, I have argued that researchers must evaluate interventions in the full range of contexts, settings, and populations that decision-makers face. In more precise terminology, my research seeks to elevate the importance of external validity in studies focused on answering questions of policy and practice.

My research is housed in the Statistics for Evidence-Based Policy and Practice (STEPP) Center (within the Institute for Policy Research) at Northwestern, which I co-founded and co-direct. The center includes funded research in the development of methodology for each of the three parts of the EB movement – methods for generating evidence, methods for synthesizing evidence, and methods for translating evidence. 

Over my career, I have collaborated with researchers on a variety of social science studies, with a large concentration of this work occurring in education and psychology

Some topics I am currently pursuing: 

  • Generalizability in randomized trials. Questions of better recruitment design via sampling, how to design studies for different estimands, how to handle undercoverage. 

  • Meta-analysis of heterogeneous studies. Questions of how to best summarize the effects, questions of generalizability, how to test hypotheses, and how to explain variation. 

  • Summarizing evidence for different audiences. How to convey findings visually and in written summaries for non-experts, using principles of data visualization and human computer interaction.

Some details about me:

I earned my PhD in Statistics from Northwestern University in 2011. In 2005, I earned an MA in Sociology from the University of Chicago and in 2001 a BA in Mathematics from Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky. I grew up in Berea, Kentucky. Prior to returning to Northwestern University, I was a member of the faculty at Teachers College, Columbia University for seven years.

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