Penelope Pooler, a Career in Stats

Penelope Pooler, an assistant professor of finance practice of Syracuse University‘s Martin J. Whitman School of Management, turned her love of numbers and data into a successful career.

Pooler earned her master’s degree in statistics with an environmental focus from Oregon State University. She then worked for the United States Geological Survey at an aquatic ecology lab in northern West Virginia before completing her Ph.D. at Virginia Tech. At the time, she was focused on environmental statistics and took a job with the National Park Service, helping them design studies and analyze data.

“While I was there, I started to gain much more of an interest in public health statistics, so when I left that job, I got hired by SUNY Upstate Medical University in the department of public health,” said Pooler. “Public health statistics and environmental statistics obviously are interrelated; if the environment’s in bad shape, we’re going to be in bad shape too.”

In 2016, Pooler joined the Whitman School as an assistant professor of finance practice, teaching courses in statistics and analytics. She makes her courses applicable to students by using examples that relate to business and finds it very rewarding when students start to see the value in studying statistics.

“I’d say the majority of students walk into a statistics classroom with apprehension,” said Pooler. “We try as much as possible to make our examples interesting and applicable so that students understand how valuable these methods are to everything that they do.”

Although she specializes in public health and environmental statistics, Pooler’s research projects cover many different disciplines. Her current projects include helping a small business owner figure out whether or not to open a new store and working with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to research how nurses in New York State can be healthier both mentally and physically.

“I really like that I get to help people once they get stuck or once they realize that the quantitative aspects of their project are beyond their knowledge base,” said Pooler. “I get to help them for anywhere from a couple months to a year to intermittently over many years. And I don’t have to focus on just one project.”

Pooler lives in the Syracuse, New Yory area with her husband, two sons and their beloved dog.

Natalie Rudakevych