Student Spotlight: Christina DeSantiago



Christina DeSantiago is a sophomore Applied Statistics major participating in the Purdue Statistics Living Learning Community, sponsored by the National Science Foundation. She originates from Fort Worth, Texas, where she was first introduced to the field of statistics in her high school AP Statistics course.  Taking this course in tandem with AP Calculus, Christina realized that she enjoyed the critical thinking and applied portion of statistics, and therefore decided to make statistics the focus of her college academics.

Christina chose to attend Purdue because of its strong statistics program.  She was introduced to the concept of `learning communities’ at Purdue from John Fisher (College of Science Undergraduate Recruiter) during her campus tour while she was in high school.  In fact, Christina participated in the Women in Science Living Learning Communityduring herfirst year.  In this program, she lived in Earhart Hall with a group of women from the College of Science.  The experience was a positive one that encouraged her to participate in the Statistics Living Learning Community (LLC).

When Christina saw a flyer for the Statistics Living Learning Community, she decided to attend the initial callout meeting; after which, she applied to the inaugural year, and was accepted to participate with 19 other students who all live together in Hillenbrand Hall.  This group of 20 students is advised by Professor. Mark Daniel Ward.  As a part of the LLC, they take three courses together: Probability, Statistical Theory, and a new course that introduces students to Big Data Analysis.  Because they live together and take courses together, there are always opportunities for members of the LLC to work together on homework and projects in the Hillenbrand lounge, creating a very collaborative and inclusive environment.

Beyond living and studying together as a group, members of the LLC gain independence and experience working on an applied statistics project.  Specifically, each student is matched with a faculty mentor of their choosing.Christina chose to participate in the Human Development research thrust with mentor Dr. Lisa Goffman in the Department of Speech, Language, & Hearing Sciences.The lab studies children with specific language impairment (SLI), as compared to typically developing children.  One study aims to test whether children’s motor skills are affected by language impairments.  Motion sensors are placed on the child’s hands as they are given a task to repeat, either producing gestures or maintaining a musical sequence.  For the musical sequence, time measurements are recorded, from which they calculate the tempo.  Standard deviations are then calculated for the time measurements, if 0, then the child stayed on tempo.  Christina’s job create and code the analysis in a popular software program known as, R, for the musical sequence data (clapping and tapping to a beat).  Being involved in real research, and using the skills learned during her experience in the LLC communities at Purdue, has definitely prepare Christina for the final two years of her education at Purdue.

Since all LLC members are required to spend time over the summer doing research, Christina will participate in four weeks of a research summer camp with the children who are being studied for similar SLI issues, but two new tasks assigned will be used to assess the SLI and typical developing children.  It is anticipated that Christina will assist in collection data, after which she will clean and prepare the data for analysis. 

Christina’s wonderful experiences with the Purdue LLCs, and more specifically, statistics,have motivated her to focus her future studies on big data analysis and statistics.  She hope toeither attend graduate schoolafter graduation, or work in an applied field doing analysis.