Dodgen Researches Mapuche, Analyzes Statistics for Dual Degree

By Purnell T. Cropper | January 14, 2011

By Sarah R. Schwartz ’10


Math and Spanish major Danielle Dodgen ’11 recently returned from a semester in Chile, where she researched the Mapuche as part of her Spanish Senior Capstone project—one of two projects she needs to complete her dual degree.

A native of Phoenix, Ariz., Dodgen says that her professors’ encouragement and her personal initiative have helped her to achieve her goals and complete her Capstone projects. This support was essential in preparing her to come face-to-face with the Mapuche and their current political and economic crisis.

“My time in Chile was a challenging and invaluable experience for me. It really helped me build upon my previous language skills while also experiencing a Latin American culture,” she says. “The culture and the people were so different than anything else I’d ever experienced. In adjusting to their culture, I grew up a lot. I’m very glad I did it.”

No stranger to research, Dodgen completed her Mathematics Capstone project during her junior year. Looking through computer simulations using Statistical Analysis System (SAS) programming language, Dodgen wanted to examine whether a large number of simulated data would support the accepted theoretical hypotheses regarding certain statistical tests, such as ANCOVA, Gains Scores Analysis, and Posttest Analysis.  With the help of her partner, Guanying Liu ’10, she ran thousands of data sets through looping procedures and changed correlation between pre-test and post-test data. She found that, on average, the data did support the accepted models.

The Capstone project helped to prepare Dodgen for the Iowa Summer Institute in Biostatistics, a highly selective seven-week intensive focused on clinical trials and spatial models used in the analysis of biomedical studies. There, she analyzed data from an ongoing study that examines the relationship between musical background and appreciation with various hearing tests in patients with cochlear implants.

Dodgen is applying to doctorate programs in statistics and biostatistics, with an emphasis in application and computation.

“In the future, I would love to be able to conduct research in a global setting, especially in Spanish-speaking regions such as Puerto Rico or South America,” says Dodgen. “I probably would not have been exposed to the area of statistics in such a positive aspect if not for the influence and support of the math department here, so I’m very grateful to my professors.”