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SDS Faculty Spotlight—Jason Rarick

Rarick Online Photo26 September 2018—Jason Rarick is a lecturer in the Department of Statistics and Data Sciences.

Tell us a little bit about yourself—educational background, work experience, etc.:

I received an MA in Educational Psychology here at The University of Texas (Hook’em!) before going on to New York University to pursue my PhD in Applied Psychology. Before that, I spent several years as a volunteer tutor coordinator for a School on Wheels, a nonprofit that provided educational support for homeless youth. 

What led you to choose Statistics as your field?

My love for statistics began when I discovered how much social scientific theory can be strengthened with strong empirical support, and how much it serves as the universal language between many academic disciplines. I also believe that statistics is a type of literacy everyone is better for knowing as it is used (and misused) in virtually every facet of our lives.

Tell us about a project or piece of research you have worked on while attending UT.

I’ve only recently returned to UT, so I’m excited to start new projects here. Presently, I look forward to furthering my research on potential psychosocial mechanisms that can help understand aspects of the widening socioeconomic academic achievement gaps that are not accounted for by material resources.

How would you describe your specific research to someone outside your field?

At a time when education has the strongest link to economic prosperity, families across all economic conditions are doing what they can to provide their children with the opportunity to succeed; however, greater socioeconomic inequality disproportionately favors those with more resources. I research how people make sense of their experiences of poverty and inequality in this context, with a focus on how relative social comparison processes inform how education-related beliefs develop. 

How was your experience working in Hollywood as a graphic designer?

Ignoring the stressful deadlines, it was an absolute blast. Not only did I get to help create the art for projects like Thor and Star Trek, but I was also often building and installing these pieces on set. I’ve recreated whole airports, recreated ancient cave art, once painted an elephant, and installed countless blinky-light spaceship control panels.

What is a talent you have always wanted?

I have wanted to learn how to play a melodic instrument for years. As a drummer, every time I sit down to learn piano, I end up faking it by tapping rhythms out on the keys instead of actually learning things like scales. I’m now convinced guitar will be different. 

What is your favorite book or song?

I’m not sure I can call it my favorite song, but I’ve listened to “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars every day for the past month. Before that, it was “Civilian” by Wye Oak. For favorite book, I’d like to say Promise Land by Jessica Lamb-Shapiro. Is it cheating that she’s also my wife? 

What is your favorie food? Wings, definitely. Well, or any type of fried chicken. Wings.

If you were not doing what you are now, what would you be doing?

I would probably find a way to do some version of what I’m doing now. I feel most at home on a university campus, and I love being actively involved on both sides of any learning process.

What superpower would you want? 

Wolverine’s healing factor (but I can live without the claws).

SDS Faculty Spotlight—Dr. Nathaniel Woodward
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