Ask JGI Student Experience Profiles: Ben Anson

JGI Student Experience Profiles: Ben Anson (Ask-JGI Data Science Support 2022-23)
Ben Anson, 1st year PhD Student in the School of Mathematics at the University of Bristol

JGI Student Experience Profiles: Ben Anson (Ask-JGI Data Science Support 2022-23)

Ask-JGI was advertised to my CDT by one of the staff members in the School of Mathematics. It sounded like a fun way to make the most of my MSc in statistics and get some ‘real world’ practice with statistics, all whilst doing my PhD! So, I applied, and it was one of the easiest application forms I have ever filled in. I was offered the job almost instantly and started 2 or 3 weeks after.

It has been really beneficial for me to chat with people from disciplines, e.g. biological sciences, psychology, education. It makes it much easier to understand the jargon from field to field (and hopefully it was helpful for them to understand more about data science), and gives interesting insights into what other research are up to. A lot of the statistics I’ve studied has been within a fairly theoretical framework, so it has been challenging and rewarding to see how this theory applies in practice. Queries are also quite varied, in the sense that some people know exactly what model they want to use, but want advice on how to perform inference, and other queries are about selecting the right method, or model, or even about framing their problem in a sensible way.

The work has spanned over many areas, I’ve worked on several queries from psychologists about how to fit models and/or test hypotheses for experiments they have run, and helping them explore ways of dealing with problematic datasets (e.g. missing data). I’ve helped analyse survey data from taught courses at the university, advised on how to process football sentiment text data, and discussed the best way to visualize results from non-destructive testing methods!

My experience of Ask-JGI has been mostly with statistics queries, but there are also queries about data visualization, data management, ML applications, etc, which are also super interesting. I’d recommend anyone who has experience in any of the above to apply, as the role is very varied and fits around PhD work.