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Academia: A Path for the Naturally Curious

Page,_Garritt11Many have warned about the consequences of curiosity, but Dr. Garritt Page chooses to see the positive side.

A self-proclaimed “numbers guy” who grew up in Las Vegas, Page recently joined the BYU Statistics Department as an assistant professor.

Page’s journey to BYU started when he was an undergraduate student in mathematics at Southern Utah University (SUU). While at SUU, Page attended a presentation by Dr. Gilbert Fellingham, a statistics professor from BYU, which gave him new perspective on the opportunities there.

“He talked a little bit about the department that they have, and . . . I decided to come here,” Page said.

After teaching high school math for a year, Page decided to pursue a master’s degree in statistics at BYU. Although he only had basic exposure to statistics as an undergraduate student, he found the new discipline rewarding.

“As you progress in math, it becomes more abstract and not as concrete,” Page said. “There’s a real-world connection with statistics.”

After finishing his master’s degree at BYU, Page received his PhD from Iowa State University in 2009. While at Iowa State, he wrote his dissertation on the analysis of data generated from inter-laboratory studies. Inter-laboratory studies are conducted to assess the measuring capabilities of laboratories or calibrate measuring instruments.

The work begins with a reference lab creating an object or material to be measured. These materials could range anywhere from pulverized marine mammal tissue to concrete mixtures.  The reference lab then sends material to other participating laboratories where the material is measured and results are reported back to the reference lab.

Because machines do much of the analysis, Page said that one of the purposes of the inter-laboratory studies is to make sure the machines are calibrated correctly.

“You want to make sure the measuring process you’re using is accurate [and] the tools that you’re using to do the measurement are accurate,” Page said.

After receiving his PhD, Page attended Duke for two years as a visiting assistant professor, which Page considers his post-doctoral experience. Following his time at Duke, Page became an assistant professor at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (Catholic University) in Santiago.

“I was always attracted to teaching,” Page said. “That, along with enjoying the research, motivated me to stay in academia.”

The work Page does may sound complicated, but finding out what stuff is made of is understandably appealing to someone who is naturally curious.

“Explore curiosity in anything that you want to do,” said Page. “If you’re a naturally curious person, then academia is a good way to appeal to that curiosity.”

By Jeremy Stanford Posted on