It’s no secret that we like math at ProPublica. Our data team creates its own statistical models, drawing insights that support — and help guide — reporting done in more traditional ways. We feel strongly that investing in quantitative methods can help a newsroom find stories that would otherwise go unreported.
We have four full-time data journalists, as well as a team of developer-journalists and a wider newsroom that’s full of very nerdy reporters. But despite a wide range of talents and expertise, we often find ourselves in quantitative conundrums that we need help to understand and untangle.
That’s why today we’re announcing a new group of advisers who will help us solve our thorniest problems and do data journalism at the highest possible level. These four people will help us develop methodologies, answer practical questions, introduce us to other domain experts and be another set of eyes on the white papers we write to explain our work.
They have diverse backgrounds and an array of areas of expertise. We’re incredibly excited to introduce them.
Miguel Hernán is the Kolokotrones professor of biostatistics and epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He also teaches courses at the Harvard Medical School and Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. His research focuses on what works best for treating and preventing cancer, cardiovascular disease and HIV. Hernán received his M.D. from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and an M.P.H, Dr.P.H. and M.S. from Harvard.
Charles Lang is a visiting assistant professor in learning analytics at Columbia University’s Teachers College. He researches student learning through predictive analytics and graphical models. He received his Ed.D. from Harvard Graduate School of Education, as well as a B.S. in biochemistry and B.A. in political science from the University of Melbourne, Australia.
Heather Lynch is an associate professor of ecology and evolution at Stony Brook University. Her work as an ecologist involves using quantitative analysis and data collection methods to research the effect climate change and fishing has had on the Antarctic penguin population. She holds a Ph.D. in organismic and evolutionary biology from Harvard, an M.A. in physics from Harvard and an A.B. in physics from Princeton.
M. Marit Rehavi is an assistant professor of economics at the Vancouver School of Economics, University of British Columbia and a fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. Rehavi researches influences on the decision-making process in medicine, politics and law by exploring and analyzing large datasets. She received a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California at Berkeley, an M.Sc. in economics and economic history from the London School of Economics and an A.B. in economics from Harvard.
Our hope is that these experts will work both individually and as a group to help guide the in-depth data analyses that we’re known for. This is the first time we’re attempting such an advisory group (in fact, it might be the first time any newsroom has done this), so it’s going to be a bit of an experiment. We’re thrilled to see what comes of it.