Shanata uses sociology and math skills to predict crime patterns

As a doctoral student in statistics at UCLA, Brandi Shanata combines her two Cornell majors: mathematics and sociology. Her research involves developing a predictive model for crime movements based on data from the Los Angeles Police Department.

Brandi Shanata
Brandi Shanata: "Cornell professors are amazing people who are enthusiastic about their subjects and truly passionate about teaching, a combination that made my experience at Cornell simultaneously enjoyable and immensely instructive."

“Think of a weather map where the ‘hot spots’ are actually increased probability of criminal activity that change as you move through time like weather patterns change,” she says.

As an undergraduate, Shanata completed an internship in statistics at Iowa State University. The result was a paper that went on to win the top prize at the Iowa Sociological Association Meeting, along with the inspiration to pursue graduate studies.

Shanata also performed research during a two-block statistics sequence at Cornell. Her three-person team studied religiosity on campus.

“The difficulties of designing our own study, collecting real data and the analysis pitfalls reality throws in your way were amazing learning opportunities that few people have the chance to experience before graduate school,” she says.

Shanata says her Cornell education prepared her well for graduate studies.

“Cornell math classes place an emphasis on critical thinking and problem solving that has been crucial to my graduate school experience,” she says. “Additionally, the structure of the block plan was great preparation for the workload, pace, and concentration of graduate school.”

Shanata eventually hopes to work with institutions that investigate the impact of current social policies and do research to evaluate whether proposed social policies should be implemented.