Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi

Dr. Blair Sterba-Boatwright

An Outstanding Islander

Outline photo of Dr. Blair Sterba-Boatwright

Problem-solving with Statistics

Dr. Blair Sterba-Boatwright is using his statistical expertise to solve problems dealing with coastal ecology, marine animals, and other areas of biology. By employing statistics to eliminate random chance as an explanation for experimental results, the associate professor of mathematics is helping College of Science and Engineering graduate students analyze data involving changing populations of shark and flounder in the Gulf of Mexico, the survival of coral polyps under adverse conditions, and the size of hurricane storm surges.

“The questions I receive can usually be linked to the human impact on organisms and the environment,” said Sterba-Boatwright, who came to the University in 1989. “As a result of statistical modeling, we can determine if population numbers are steady or declining and even the impact of human activities.”

In 2005, Sterba-Boatwright returned to school to pursue an M.S. in Statistics from Texas A&M University. Two years later, he earned his degree, which led him to discover fresh ways to apply his newly-acquired skills in collaboration with scientists on campus. 

Last fall, he began teaching an online statistical research methods course at Texas A&M University at Galveston. Through these classes, Sterba-Boatwright is gradually stepping away from live class lectures to focus on using the opportunities provided by the Internet to teach in new ways.  He also incorporates online capabilities and parallel computing to extend what statistical calculations are possible.

As early as junior high school, Sterba-Boatwright knew his career path would lead to mathematics. But his enthusiasm for teaching developed when he was a graduate assistant.

“Just like my dad, I see myself as a storyteller and that’s how I conceptualize my lessons in the classroom,” he said. “I really enjoy the interaction with students. The best part is when you can tell that your students understand the concept.”

Sterba-Boatwright, past chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, was the 2010-2011 Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi nominee for the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation’s Piper Professorship, which honors professors from across Texas for their outstanding academic, scientific, and scholarly achievement. He has also received The Texas A&M University System’s Student Recognition Award for Teaching Excellence.
 
© Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi • 6300 Ocean Drive, Corpus Christi, Texas 78412 • 361-825-5700