LISA On-the-ground Statisticians in Mozambique: a new paradigm for statistical collaboration

Eric Vance, PhD


LISA (Virginia Tech’s Laboratory for Interdisciplinary StatisticalAnalysis) is dedicated to improving research by delivering highquality statistical support for interdisciplinary collaborations. Onesuch interdisciplinary research project was to evaluate the impacts ofthe Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC) rural water project inMozambique. The MCC is a U.S. government aid organization fundinginvestments to aid economic development in northern Mozambique,including the drilling and installation of 600 hand pumps in ruralvillages that currently lack basic access to clean water. This summer,two LISA statisticians traveled with the principal investigator onthis project, Dr. Ralph Hall from the College of Architecture andUrban Studies, to Mozambique to test whether statisticians in thefield do add value to research projects. These “on-the-ground”statisticians successfully contributed statistical expertise toimprove all aspects of this baseline study, starting with the studydesign, through the data collection and data preparation phases, tothe current stage of statistical analysis. We intend for thisexperience to serve as a model for how having a data expert in thefield to make statistical decisions can add tremendous value tointerdisciplinary research projects.



Eric Vance was a triple major in mathematics, economics, andstatistics at the University of California, Berkeley, and then eleven years later received his PhD in Statistical Science from Duke University. In between his undergraduate and graduate studies, Dr.Vance traveled around the world three times, backpacking through 67 countries in Europe; South and Southeast Asia; Australia and New Zealand; North, Central, and South America; and Africa. Now, as director of LISA (Virginia Tech’s Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Statistical Analysis), he is working on projects that will enable his students the opportunity to travel internationally.


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