I am a bit of a statistical anomaly. When I was a child my parents signed me up for a series of psychological studies at the University of Toronto, meaning that my childhood was punctuated by a phone interviews with PhD researchers asking about my sleeping habits and occasional visits to a child psychology lab in downtown Toronto (for which I received the invaluable reward of a Blockbuster rental certificate). On other occasions researchers came to my primary school and I was pulled out of class to complete logic puzzles in front of a couple educational psychologists in a repurposed changing room.
One of the experiments I participated in when I was maybe 4 years old was a version of the marshmallow test, where I was seated alone in a room with a marshmallow on a plate on the table in front of me. In the experiment, the subject is told that if they can wait for a set length of time without eating the marshmallow, they will get several marshmallows instead. Researchers have found correlations between being able to resist eating the marshmallow and life outcomes, such as higher SAT scores and educational attainment. According to my mum, who brought me to the lab, I had the marshmallow in my mouth before the supervising researcher was out of the room.
Depending on how you want to interpret those results, it could be a bit astonishing that I even finished secondary school. I’ve taken it as a lesson in both the power of statistics to predict and understand events, and the challenges of using individual cases to understand broad trends and using broad trends to interpret individual cases.
At the moment I’m living London, having come to the UK from Canada in 2014 to do an MSc in Comparative Social Policy at the University of Oxford, and then pursued work in the charity sector. I am particularly interested in disabilities, employment policy, education and healthcare, but I find all social policies and social phenomena generally fascinating. I like open data and improving ease of use, so I re-host public charitable data in more accessible formats, and have a dataset of UK parliamentary speeches with sentiment analysis, and have produced a few R packages for accessing data from the UK parliament, plus a package for analysing UK electoral data. I have a semi-frequently used Twitter feed, build the odd Shiny app, have put a bunch of projects on GitHub and I’m also occasionally out in the real world doing various things.
I have wild hair; my girlfriend has a very cute cat