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Garrett Grolemund

Grolemund works to make data analysis a science

Garrett Grolemund largeGarrett Grolemund wants to teach people, statisticians and non-statisticians alike, how to better analyze and visualize data.

“We develop the computational tools to analyze large amounts of data. The idea is to make it less of an art and more of a science. We develop and use a broad band of visualization tools,” said the fourth-year graduate student in statistics at Rice University.

With his adviser, Hadley Wickham, assistant professor of statistics, Grolemund has worked to refine and promote R, an open-source computer language used for statistical computing and graphics. R was developed at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, where Wickham earned his B.S. and master’s degrees in statistics.

Grolemund’s research focuses on data analysis, statistical computation, statistics education and visualization. With Wickham, he co-authored the lubridate R package which provides methods to parse, manipulate, and do arithmetic with date-times.

“If you see a graph with a grey background, there's a good chance that it was made with ggplot2, which means it owes part of its existence to the Rice Statistics Department,” Grolemund said.

His education and experience have been eclectic. Grolemund earned a B.A. in psychology and a master’s degree in statistics, both in 2003 from Harvard University. He spent a year teaching public school in Florida, another year as a clinical trials coordinator at Massachusetts General Hospital and, before coming to Rice, a year as a researcher at the UCLA School of Law Library.

At Rice he has taught such classes as Statistics 405: “Introduction to Data Analysis,” and “Visualization in R with ggplot2.” He expects to earn his Ph.D. this year and hopes to find a job in industry that combines developing new methods of data analysis and teaching them to others.

“Even when I thought I wanted to go into psychology,” Grolemund said, “it was the statistical end of it that interested me. I like the computational stuff, and I like teaching it to people.”