Nick Shell
May 15, 2019

This week we put the focus on one of our IT members, Cole Beck.  Cole is one of our Senior Application Developers and is a Python and R enthusiast.  Read on to learn more about his role and work within the department.

What was your draw to statistics and/or Vanderbilt?
Vanderbilt was my first job outside of college.  Dr. Harrell (founder of the department and Chair at that time) was a big advocate of Linux and open source software which was very appealing to me as a computer science graduate.  Statistics is such a major part of sports and I enjoy the impact its had in evolving baseball. I'm very appreciative of working with great colleagues that play a role in evolving health research.

Tell us about your work and any publications you may have.
I'm more involved with writing software and R packages than publications.  Dr. Greevy and I have published the R package "nbpMatching."  I am currently working on several packages with Dr. Choi: "PhysicalActivity" summarizes wear time of accelerometer data and "pkdata" works with pharmacokinetic data. We're also working on a package to generalize several steps needed to prepare electronic health records for analysis.

What is your philosophy about research?
I'm mostly involved at the data preparation step in the research chain. My two most important rules are to be efficient and to keep reproducibility in mind.

What are your thoughts on controversial statistical topics?
Research data and code should be published and made publicly available. I think this would lead to better research practices, and eventually less controversy.

Tell us about your life outside of Vanderbilt.
I married a woman with the same name as my favorite text editor (Kate). I keep busy with sports by playing softball, ultimate frisbee, ice hockey, and golf; and I share Predators' season tickets. At home I stay busy with logic puzzles, video games, and board games.

Finally, tell us something about you that most people at Vanderbilt still don't know about you.  (Until now, of course!)
I've been wearing my Indiana Jones hat for "Fedora Fridays" for about six years now. I get more compliments about that hat than for anything else I do.