February 27, 2015

Helkey '13 Furthers Study of Statistics

Mathematics and biostatistics double major Daniel Helkey '13 is pursuing a five-year Ph.D. at the University of California, Santa Cruz to delve deeper into the field of statistics.

Furthering one's education can open many doors and lead to better job opportunities, as well as show a person's love for learning and dedication to his or her craft. Daniel Helkey '13 didn't have any set-in-stone goals after graduation, but he did know he wanted to pursue graduate school.

His road to graduate school, he said, can be partially attributed to the high-caliber faculty who were invested in his education while he was a mathematics and biostatistics double major at Emmanuel. Yulia Dementieva, professor of mathematics and department chair, was Helkey's advisor and professor for many of his classes and encouraged him to apply to graduate schools.

"She is probably one of the main reasons I am currently pursuing a graduate degree in statistics," said Helkey, who earning his Ph.D. at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

He also gives credit to Assistant Professor of Mathematics Christine Sample, whose advice helped him select a program, as Dr. Sample had recently attended graduate school herself.

"The small faculty-to-student ratio allows the professors to be invested in the success of their students, which is something that is just not possible at a large school," Helkey said. "I feel that one of the strongest aspects of Emmanuel College is the overall quality of the professors and their love for teaching."

After the first year of study in his program, Helkey passed the preliminary exams conducted; he now has an advisor and is working on a project about applying a hidden Markov Model for modeling the population of field voles (small, mouse-like rodents).

During his time at Emmanuel, Helkey helped launch EC Ultimate, a club dedicated to enjoying an active lifestyle by playing Ultimate Frisbee, which he now also plays with other students on an intramural team at UC Santa Cruz. At Emmanuel, he helped organize games and campus-wide tournaments to start the club. He was also a peer tutor in the Academic Resource Center (ARC).

"It was a great job," Helkey said. "I enjoyed tutoring, and the experience has helped me a lot in grad school, since I have to speak in front of a large number of students about math."

Although he has achieved a substantial amount academically, Helkey also received the highest advancement rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouting program of the Boy Scouts of America during his senior year of high school.

"It took a lot of commitment, and I suppose it has helped me stick with things for a long time. Grad school takes a while; my program is five years, and being able to stick with something is important," he said.

Helkey is still exploring what to do after he graduates, but he says he'd like to work at a place where he can apply statistical models to real-life problems.

"My dream job would be doing statistics on something that really excites me, such as modeling penguin populations, but I will be happy working just about anywhere," he said.

Daniel Helkey '13

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