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Talia McCallum, BSc.Hons.'03, MSc.'06

A day in the life

Talia McCallum, BSc.Hons.'03, MSc.'06

mccallumprofil3

To analyze data in the right way takes a certain amount of skill. A formal education in statistics will give you that background you need to make the right decisions with whatever datasets you’re presented with.

When the best defense is a good statistician


Talia McCallum can’t really talk specifically about what she does. As a Defense Scientist with Canada’s Department of National Defense, you could almost say she's one of our statistical special forces.

People bring her numbers and want answers. Which of these tactics is most effective? Which system tracks stuff better? What happens to a ship if we do this to it?

Talia loves the challenge when a new dataset lands on her desk. She considers all the conditions, assumptions and constraints in the numbers, then she comes up with the right advice to help her clients answer their questions.

“Most of what I do is either modeling and simulation or providing a statistical support system for data collection and analysis of it,” she explains.  

Originally, Talia started off at Dalhousie as a marine biology major. Then, working under the late Dr. Ransom Myers, who was a big proponent of statistics, she picked up some number crunching skills and decided a double major in statistics was a smart move.

“Having some knowledge of statistics and the processes that drive it provides a lot of rigour to thinking about things like marine biology or chemistry or physics where scientists get data all the time.”

“To analyze data in the right way takes a certain amount of skill,” she says. “A formal education in statistics will give you that background you need to make the right decisions with whatever datasets you’re presented with.”

Talia finished her combined honours in Marine Biology and Statistics and did a masters in Statistics. She had a job before she even got out of grad school, working on a wildlife preservation project near Cape Canaveral, in Florida.

 “As soon as I started applying for jobs, I got phone calls. There are not many statisticians out there,” she says.

She loves her work in the Navy, and once the shipyard starts building new frigates and destroyers in Halifax, she sees no shortage of applied stats work for someone with her skills sets.

“It’s a really excellent degree and I’m so happy to have it,” she says.