The competition was open to undergraduates, graduate degree candidates, faculty and non-academic industry professionals. The competitors were tasked with developing a poster which provided a graphical summary of a series of data sets concerning the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Of the teams which submitted an abstract to the competition, ten produced a final poster. William and Mary students Patrick Steele ('11), Amy Russell ('12) and Jennifer Thorne ('11) also contributed an entry to the event. By placing second, Hickey and Parakkal are awarded with both a cash prize and an invitation to publish their research in Computational Statistics, a statistical journal.
The data sets made available to the competitors included temperature and salinity data from NOAA, water chemical profiles of fishery regions from the EPA, and death counts of birds, reptiles, and mammals from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Hickey and Parakkal's entry mapped out probable locations of oil based on water density data developed from the NOAA data set.
Hickey and Parakkal were advised by Tanujit Dey, an Assistant Professor at the College of William and Mary's Department of Mathematics. The Data Expo is held every two years as a project of the American Statistical Association's Section on Statistical Graphics.
The American Statistical Association is an organization for professionals involved in the field of statistics. JSM is the largest gathering of statisticians held in North America, held with six other international statistical bodies, and is attended by more than 6,000 people.
Additional information about the Data Expo 2011 competition may be found at http://stat-computing.org/