Those of you interested in epidemiology and/or public health will be interested to hear that Stack Exchange has a proposal going to start a Stack specifically for epi and public health. This is great news, as epidemiology questions are currently being housed under CrossValidated (the statistics Stack) which is not quite the right place in my opinion. Many epi questions can be answered from a statistics point of view, but the culture of the two fields is not the same, and often what statisticians and epidemiologists are interested in differ as well.

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I blame the heat, but this summer I’ve been finding it hard to stay motivated. I have been making progress on my research, but it tends to come in fits and starts – a couple productive days, followed by a couple more days lazing in the sun. And I’ve gotten even worse at keeping up with the ‘requirements of adult life’, like laundry and grocery shopping, than I was during term-time.

Partly, I just feel exhausted from an intense year of courses. I waived out of some of the typical first year ones and ended up with a kind of rough combination of both difficult and heavy-workload classes which I found pretty draining. But I also think it’s that I could do with being better organized about my main project and about the housework. I feel a bit adrift on exactly what I’m supposed to be doing short-term, research-wise, although I’m pretty clear on the overall and long-term goals. Plus, with computer-based science and the ability to work from, literally, anywhere dry enough to pop open my laptop, it’s hard to convince myself to spend all day in an air-conditioned office.

So, what should I do to get organized, on track, and motivated for the rest of the summer, without over-doing it and starting the next semester exhausted?

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Coding DAGs in LaTeX

LaTeX is a great platform for typesetting documents which include equations and mathematical expressions. But for epidemiologists, sometimes¬† this isn’t enough. Directed acyclical graphs, or DAGs, are important for visualizing relationships between variables and designing experiments, and are an important component of causal inference. Unfortunately, while easy to draw by hand, DAGs are difficult to draw in most word processing programs. Luckily, LaTeX allows an easy way to build any type of DAG with one simple package: tikz.

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As I’m sure you’ve heard, there’s a hurricane moving up the eastern coast of North America. Being in the path of the storm, I thought I should stock up on a some food and water, but I wasn’t quite sure what to get. Looking on the web turned out to be not much help – all the advice seemed to assume that if the power went out, I’d have easy access to a grill, a BBQ, or at least a camp stove. Unfortunately those things need a yard or a balcony, and if you live in the city like me, affording those is a bit of a pipe-dream. So what’s a city girl to do?

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One of the first things I realized when I started doing statistical analysis for real research projects, instead of in the classroom, was how messy and unconventional real data sets can be. I’ve talked about this before in the context of power analysis , but it gets much worse.

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Since I found out that I’ll be moving 3000 miles to a new country for grad school, I’ve been trying to take the opportunity to overhaul my life from decluttering and digitizing, to exercising and eating right.

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Well, it’s been a long time since I last posted anything but I’m starting a doctoral program in a month, and I think that this is a good time to make some life changes. Starting with blogging more regularly. I’m going to aim for once a week at least and see how that goes.

Wish me luck:)


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