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Karelyn Davis

“To me, math is...simply the means by which the world works.”
Karelyn's Biography

Dr. Karelyn Davis is a Statistician employed with Health Canada who conducts statistical analysis and research studying the human health effects resulting from exposure to environmental factors such as air and water pollutants. In achieving this, Karelyn collaborates with other scientific researchers on epidemiological studies and laboratory research projects. In addition, she offers annual statistical training to Federal Government colleagues as well as lecturing part-time at both Ottawa Universities instructing Undergraduate and Graduate statistical courses. Prior to joining Health Canada in 2009, Karelyn was employed as a methodologist with Statistics Canada and contributed to surveys originating from the fields of education, labour dynamics, justice and health.

Karelyn completed her Ph.D. in Probability and Statistics from Carleton University. Previously, she completed both a Master of Science in Statistics and Bachelor of Science Joint Honours in Pure Mathematics and Statistics from Memorial University of Newfoundland. In 2004, she was awarded the Gertrude Cox Scholarship Honourable Mention by the American Statistical Association, and in 2011 was awarded a Carleton University Senate Medal for Outstanding Academic Achievement at the Doctoral Level.

In 2014, Karelyn was appointed an Adjunct Research Professor with the School of Mathematics and Statistics at Carleton University. She is also accredited by the Statistical Society of Canada as a Professional Statistician (P.Stat.). Karelyn has served as Secretary of the Statistical Society of Ottawa, and an elected member of the Statistical Society of Canada Accreditation Committee.

Throughout my studies I have been fortunate to be exposed to advanced mathematical and statistical theory. More importantly, I was offered the opportunity to communicate this knowledge with others through presentations and teaching opportunities. Educating others in complex mathematical concepts is a communication skill that I developed in university through mainly ‘learning from others’.

Working within the public sector provides a fascinating opportunity to use theoretical Mathematical techniques to solve a variety of real-world health challenges. Almost daily, I collaborate with other scientific experts, such as biologists, chemists, epidemiologists and policy analysts, each of whom has a different perspective on the designated project. This offers the stimulus for experiencing new skills and working with interesting individuals. Having the results of your efforts acknowledged through publication and subsequent implementation as government policy and regulation is very gratifying. As well, I so enjoy sharing the obscurities and solving the mysteries of Mathematics & Statistics through regular teaching sessions with Government colleagues as well as Co-Op Students in Statistics.

I like to relax by undertaking a variety of craft projects such as needlework. I’m always prepared to travel with my husband near and far and we will soon have a ‘new arrival’ to share the experience. Cheering for the Ottawa Senators and continuing my training in Taekwon-do, satisfy challenges of patience and fun.

As a teenager growing up on the East coast of Canada, I had a love of reading, especially mystery novels which always proved interesting and entertaining. I believe this “Whodunit?’ introduction sparked an interest in problem solving which led to a path of curiosity through Science at university..

I have had many mentors throughout my career, both formal and informal. My family have been my first mentors, encouraging me to pursue higher education, and teaching me the discipline and tenacity needed to succeed in academics, as well as in life.

In addition, my graduate supervisors constantly challenged me to undertake advanced statistical training, and supported me in my choice to supplement theoretical coursework with applied statistics projects. While completing my Doctorate, I participated in the Statistical Society of Canada’s accreditation mentoring program, where I was paired with a Senior Statistician who was also a federal government employee. The experience was invaluable as we discussed non-mathematical aspects of statistics including career advancement, teamwork, and clarifying mathematical terms to a non-mathematical audience.

A career in Mathematics and Statistics allows for many diverse and varied opportunities to collaborate with other mathematicians, as well as non-mathematicians. My advice would be to always remain open minded to career opportunities. While at university, I would recommend theoretical courses as your priority, since many real-world applications require methods which do not currently exist. Also, I would suggest availing of any and all opportunities to practice communication skills by presenting and/or communicating mathematical findings.

Mathematics, to me is . . . simply the means by which the world works. Math is found in the fabric of everything science, art, business, engineering, and is behind countless decisions we as individuals make on a daily basis. In particular, as a statistician, I use math to solve numerous interesting and complex problems related to the likelihood or chance of certain events occurring.

Through outreach and professional development activities, research, partnerships, thought leadership and online initiatives, we work with industry and academia to educate on the value of diversity for innovation, to inspire women to thrive and to celebrate the contributions of women in science and engineering.
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