Paul Livermore Auer

Written by: Meghan Honerlaw, M.S. candidate in Statistics

Paul Livermore Auer

Paul Livermore Auer is a fourth year Statistics Ph.D. student at Purdue doing research in statistical bioinformatics. More specifically, he is focused on studying the variability of genomic systems. Paul, who is originally from Vestal, New York, received his B.A. in Mathematics from the State University of New York in May of 2001. After earning his undergraduate degree in mathematics, Paul knew he loved what that field had to offer, beyond that he knew statistics had broad applications and offered him countless opportunities to collaborate with scientists in diverse fields; so he decided to continue his education in graduate school. Paul graduated with a Masters degree in Statistics from Cornell University in 2003. After attending school for many years and earning two degrees, Paul was interested in gaining real-world experience. As he says, "After graduating from Cornell, I was hungry for a job that would utilize some of my newly acquired skills."

From 2003 to 2005, Paul worked for the U.S. Census Bureau as a Mathematical Statistician. Paul spent his time at the Census Bureau working "on the implementation and analysis of a survey that attempts to measure coverage error in the Decennial Census." In order to do this, Paul spent many hours programming in SAS and checking the statistical validity of Census reports. Paul always had the notion to go back to school and get a Ph.D. in statistics, so after a few years in government he decided to begin the search to find a graduate program that suited his and his wife’s needs.

At Purdue, Paul found "a great campus and an even better department." The Purdue statistics graduate program is one of the best in the nation and once Paul arrived he realized the rigor of the courses would prove to be challenging. With this he says, "we get a lot of support from faculty and staff, but be prepared to work hard. The graduate program is both challenging and rewarding."

As a part of Paul’s rewarding coursework, he includes two particular statistics courses; Introduction to Computational Statistics (STAT 598G) and Statistical Methods for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (STAT 598C). Paul says, "I use the skills developed in these courses on an almost daily basis. Both courses have been immeasurably helpful to my research." After passing the qualification examinations, Paul now spends his time doing research under the guidance of Dr. Rebecca Doerge.

When deciding on an advisor and a thesis topic, some students are challenged. Fortunately for Paul, he knew he was fascinated by genomics. He says, "I like to think of the genetic code of an organism as analogous to the combination of 0's and 1's that make a computer function. Only genomics is much more complex than this. Furthermore, Statistical Genetics offers us (as statisticians) a chance to contribute to a critical scientific endeavor." It is fortunate for Paul that coupled with his interest in genomics, he was introduced to Professor Doerge. In his research, he is developing statistical and computational approaches to estimate variability in genomic systems. "Specifically, many new technologies have recently surfaced that efficiently sequence a genome. My research involves designing techniques to test for and discover regions of biological variation in a genome as they appear in data output from these technologies."

When Paul is not working on his research, he takes advantage of the other opportunities Purdue’s Statistics Department has to offer. He has worked as a team leader on projects for Statistics in the Community (STATCOM), a student-run organization that provides pro bono statistical consulting services to local government and nonprofit organizations. His work with STATCOM involved helping a local law firm come up with a customer satisfaction survey. Paul has also taken advantage of the technical support the staff has to offer, which has "educated him in many of the nuances of research computing."

Paul is continuing his research and hopes to graduate by 2010. After earning his Ph.D. from Purdue, he would like to take a faculty position at a research institution specializing in Statistical Genetics and Bioinformatics.

September 2008

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