For Freya Fu, statistics is like architecture for data.
Fu, whose Chinese first name is Ziqian, transferred to Colorado State University last fall from a university in Shanghai. Although she arrived as a psychology major, she also found an interest in another field: statistics. After her first stats class at CSU, she was hooked.
“As I went deeper into stats, I felt like there’s more to it that I wanted to learn,” she said.
Fu decided to add statistics as a second major and immediately excelled, said Ben Prytherch, her advisor and an instructor in the statistics department.
“It wasn’t just that she saw a little bit of statistics, liked it and took more classes,” Prytherch said. “She saw a little bit of statistics, liked it, took more classes and then was at the top of the class.”
She will pick up her bachelor’s degree in statistics cum laude this weekend.
Fu has been active in statistics outside the classroom as well. She tutors at the Institute for Learning and Teaching and is a member of the Stat Alliance, the CSU student chapter of the American Statistical Association. She was also part of a research team that won College Honors at the Celebrate Undergraduate Research and Creativity awards in April for their work on how people choose news sources. She credits Philip Turk, an associate professor of statistics, with helping the team throughout their project.
Because of Fu’s involvement and academic excellence, the statistics department allowed her the rare opportunity to conduct undergraduate statistics research. Working with Assistant Professor Ander Wilson, Fu helped compare several statistical regression models, including one that estimated the accuracy of a pollution sensor.
She explained that she likes statistics because the relationship between data and statistics is like the relationship between art and architecture.
“Statistics is something that is expressed by data, and it’s like viewing that structure for data,” she said.
After she graduates, Fu plans to pursue a master’s degree in statistics. After that, she might apply for a Ph.D. program or a job as a technology consultant.
“There’s a lot of things to explore in life,” she said.
Even though she will likely stay in statistics in some form, she said that her other field, psychology, will help her understand people. She also has a few ideas for psychology research, such as how being timed may affect someone’s test scores.
Whatever Fu’s future holds, Prytherch has confidence that she’ll succeed.
“She’s really excelled at everything she’s done so far,” he said. “There’s no reason to suspect that’s going to stop happening when she graduates.”