Cornell Bowers College of Computing and Information Science
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Cornell statisticians empower researchers through free virtual workshops

February 8, 2023

By Louis DiPietro

Cornell scholars eager to learn how to leverage statistical tools and methods for better research now have a vast, free library of workshops from the university’s on-campus statistics experts. 

More than 50 virtual workshops led by the Cornell Statistical Consulting Unit (CSCU) are available for free for all Cornell community members. The video catalog, which includes course files and materials, is in addition to the roughly 15 live courses the unit hosts each semester and throughout the summer.

“We select our workshop topics based on what Cornell researchers are asking us about in consulting meetings and drop-in sessions,” said Lynn M. Johnson, director of CSCU. 

Workshops range from introductions to statistical methods and their implementation in various software packages up to more advanced statistical methods, including generalized linear models, multilevel models, structural equation models, Bayesian statistical methods, and the design and analysis of complex surveys.

CSCU has provided statistics-related consulting and training to thousands of Cornell researchers for nearly 30 years. Last year, CSCU had more than 3,200 client contacts – that is, faculty, students, and staff from across Cornell who reached out for guidance on research-related statistical problems.

In years past, unit leaders had hoped to one day offer the in-person workshops virtually and compile a course library for people to learn at their convenience, Johnson said. Then the pandemic hit. Zoom became the norm, and suddenly that hope became feasible. 

“It was an opportunity for us to start recording our workshops,” she said. “As soon as our workshops started up online in March 2020, we had clients requesting recordings and materials.” 

CSCU’s virtual offerings have grown since then. The most popular courses – both in person and online – feature a lecture component that reviews the methodology and a hands-on component that covers how to implement the analysis in statistical software packages, like R, Johnson said. 

“We want attendees and viewers to walk away with the ability to use the techniques on their own data,” she said.

Housed within the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science, the fee-for-service unit has five dedicated full-time staff consultants and is advised by faculty consultants from the Department of Statistics and Data Science and a cross-disciplinary advisory board of Cornell leaders. Though its in-person workshops are held in Malott Hall, CSCU’s offices are located on the third floor of Savage Hall.  

While in-person and virtual workshops are free to attend for all Cornell community members, CSCU’s consulting services are available to those from funding colleges, departments, and units. 

Louis DiPietro is a writer in the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science.