Professor Deborah Nolan of Statistics says, “There is an ‘AHA!’ quality to figuring out the chance that someone wins the lottery twice and to figuring out whether you should switch doors when Monte Hall opens one to reveal a donkey. One of my goals is to get students to shout ‘AHA!’ when they solve these problems.”
She succeeds at this, and admirably, according to her students: “I would say the best aspect of her teaching genius is her ability to introduce complex, theoretical concepts in statistics and bring them down to the real world. This made learning easier and at the same time pleasurable.”
Large numbers of students in statistics courses come from other disciplines, and Nolan is noted for working with and encouraging all students in their understanding of statistics. A colleague marveled, “she employed an arsenal of pedagogical techniques to involve and challenge the students, to bring them quickly to an understanding of the basic concepts of probability and statistics, and then to expose them to exciting problems and original journal articles.”
Nolan, whose research interests are empirical processes, and cross-validation and model selection, joined the Department of Statistics in 1986. She received her AB from Vassar College in 1977 and her PhD in statistics from Yale University in 1986.
University:University of California, Berkeley