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Figuring out how to melt butter just right is solvable using statistics.
George Mason University Assistant Professor Nicholas Rios in the Department of Statistics had a baking enthused student apply what she was learning in statistics to butter melting. She experimented around temperature, microwaves, and butter types to find an ideal method.
It’s one of the things Rios loves about teaching, seeing students give him ideas and perspectives he’s never seen before.
“I like giving students projects where they can apply statistics to what they’re interested in, to further their own interests,” says Rios.
As a high school student, he didn’t think he’d really like statistics. Some of his friends had taken it and didn’t have great things to say. But his mom, knowing Rios liked math, signed him up for a course and figured he would find it interesting. She was right.
“The first time I saw the x and y regression model, and using the x as a variable to predict an outcome, I was hooked,” said Rios. “Statistics is a science of helping people understand phenomena and it applies to everyone.”
As one of the newest and youngest professors to join the department, Rios moved to the Washington area after obtaining his PhD from Penn State University. Being at the center of connecting to prominent statistics faculty, researchers, and development opportunities made the move an easy choice for Rios. The milder weather was also a welcome change.
“The proximity of being centrally located to the U.S. Census Bureau, and government agencies where statistics is needed makes this an area where you can get really involved in the industry,” said Rios.
He adds that being at Mason connects the dots between major grant and funding opportunities, as well as a department full of very distinguished colleagues that welcome collaboration.
“I enjoy the challenges of research and the opportunities for collaboration,” he says. “I am always available for both!”