Graduate School

The University of Mississippi

Interdisciplinary Minor Aids Student in Food Security Research

by Jordan Orris

GMAS CommitteeThe Interdisciplinary Graduate Minor in Applied Statistics (GMAS) is an interdisciplinary minor offered through the University of Mississippi Graduate School, allowing students to craft their own minor curriculum to best suit their research and study interests. Students complete five courses, which must include both an introductory and an intermediate statistics course at the graduate level, and three applied statistics in the student’s chosen path of study.

Faculty advisors on the overseeing committee range in fields from pharmacy administration to leadership to computer science to hospitality management, and many more. Interesting courses include biometry, or applying statistics to biology; statistical analysis of criminal justice; geostatistics (geology); econometrics; and applied political research. It is clear this minor would accentuate any graduate curriculum.

Rachel Haggard, a Master of Arts student in Sociology, is a GMAS minor, who says as a Research Assistant for the Center for Population Studies that the GMAS minor “has been invaluable for being able to run complex statistical models on problems related to demography, workforce development, maternal health, and agrifood systems.”

Haggard has a B.S. from the University of Missouri in sustainable agriculture with a minor in agricultural economics, and detailed that she “wanted to pursue a master of sociology so [she] could continue studying issues related to food security, poverty, health, climate change, and other global inequities and understand them from a structural perspective.”

When asked to offer advice for students looking to pursue a GMAS minor, Haggard shared that she recommends students “take a wide variety of statistics courses in varying departments, because each discipline has something unique to offer in terms of what methodologies and statistical analyses they generally utilize. Understanding how different disciplines address different problems, statistically, this will help advance interdisciplinary collaborations.”

Dr. John Green, Rachel’s professor in the Department of Sociology, and the Director of the Center for Population Studies responded about Haggard, “[Her] combination of pursuing the MA in Sociology and the Interdisciplinary Graduate Minor in Applied Statistics has provided her with the education and training needed to work in program and policy evaluation at a variety of settings and levels. She has been able to take what she learns in the diverse statistics courses and apply her new knowledge and skills to real-world projects in the Center for Population Studies. This has been of benefit to both her and our project partners.”

GMAS is a unique program, and it provides countless opportunities for students to customize their areas of study to their desired curriculum. As Dr. Christy Wyandt, Interim Dean of the Graduate School, said, “I think this minor is a good opportunity for students to work with a variety of our excellent faculty from all across campus.”