I’m Jonathan Brown and I’m in my first year of the Stat Ed – QME program. My path into this program has been quite an adventure, and I’m very happy to be here!
Growing up and heading into undergrad, I had aspirations to figure out the Universe at the most fundamental level, as well as protect the Earth from potentially apocalyptic asteroids. Accordingly, I earned a Bachelor of Science from UW-Madison in 2009, majoring in Astronomy-Physics, with a Business minor. I conducted astronomy research from 2007-2009, analyzing quasar spectra in an attempt to characterize hydrogen gas clouds through their interference with said spectra. I was fortunate to spend a year teaching physics through the Physics Department's Peer-Mentor-Tutor program, providing educational support to first-generation students and students from underrepresented groups enrolled in introductory physics courses.
While the joy of cosmology and physics never left me, issues on the social side of science sparked my interest, and I sought to dive into other aspects of science, other than the science itself. This included teaching, policy, and ethical issues. This lead to me earning a Master of Science in Science and Technology Policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota in 2012, with a Public Health minor. I focused my attention on nanotechnology policy, and conducted research on the public perception of nanotechnology in food. I was additionally a statistics teaching assistant for two half-semester classes and loved it.
Following my Master’s degree, I stayed at the Humphrey School for two years as a research fellow, working on issues of nanotechnology in food, women’s experiences in science and technology policy careers, and the impact of university research on domestic food safety.
As I pondered my next steps, I realized that I missed teaching and had unexplored passions for improving education, specifically, quantitative education. I began fondly thinking back to my times teaching physics in undergrad and statistics in my Master’s program. Following recommendations from peers, I discovered the Stat Ed group within the QME program and it struck me like an inspirational lightning bolt that this was where I next wanted to be. I strongly desired to not only teach quantitative material, but to make such teaching better and positively impact students as much as possible.
My primary research interest within statistics education is teaching assistant and instructor development, but I am happy researching numerous areas, issues, and topics. Being given the opportunity to teach statistics while conducting and potentially implementing research to improve statistics education is awesome!
Outside of school and work, my life is filled with two other activities: fitness and improv. Among the joys and sanity I derive from fitness and sports, sprinting is my favorite pastime. I hope to indefinitely compete in friendly track meets in the 200 meter, 400 meter, and possibly the mile. I've been training in and doing improv for over a year, and have enjoyed successes and experiences that I never could have imagined. I’m currently a part of one improv group and am hoping to stay indefinitely connected to the stage. Additionally, as a wonderful externality, my teaching has definitely strengthened due to my improv training and experience. Many improv principles directly apply to teaching of any kind!