Introduction to Julia O’Neill: Connecting statistics with science and engineering

ANNE MILLEY: Hello, and welcome to Analytically Speaking. I'm Anne Milley, Director of Analytic Strategy in the JMP division of SAS. Principal at Tunnell Consulting, Julia O'Neill has more than 30 years of experience using statistics and chemical engineering to solve problems in chemistry, vaccines, biologics and pharmaceuticals. With statistical thinking, she is advancing patient care by accelerating the discovery and creation of viable new medicines that address unmet needs.

Julia, so glad to have you with us.

JULIA O'NEILL: I'm very happy to be here.

ANNE MILLEY: And thank you for making the time to tune in. We hope you'll share interesting aspects of our conversation on social media using the hashtag, #jmpspeaking. So Julia, how did you come to be interested in statistics?

JULIA O'NEILL: Well, I was working in a paper mill right after college, and I didn't get to do enough math. So I went back to graduate school, and in my second semester, I took an elective, and it happened to be taught by Bill Hunter, Design of Experiments for Engineers. And he was a wonderful teacher, and it was a real light bulb moment for me. I remember sitting in his class and thinking, this is what I always wanted to do, but I didn't even know what they called it. From that point on, I began to shift my studies and later, my career, to combine chemical engineering and statistics.

George Box, who was also one of my professors at Wisconsin at the time, used to refer to that as bridging statistics or bridging statisticians, and that is my niche. I connect statistical applications with the context of the science and engineering.

ANNE MILLEY: That is a great story, and how fortunate to have such famous statisticians influence your career path. We're so glad they did.