In this series, Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences is shining the spotlight on distinguished members of the Class of 2022 from a wide array of disciplines.
Sarah Austin ’22 is an Honors Fellow and Lumen Scholar majoring in statistics with a concentration in mathematics and a minor in geographic information systems.
While at Elon, Austin was recognized with the Jeanne Freeman Williams Scholarship award, was included on the President’s List all semesters, and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Eta Sigma and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies.
How did you choose to major in statistics?
I have a passion for working with and solving problems with data. I also love how flexible and interdisciplinary this field can be.
What was your Lumen Prize research topic?
The past couple of years I have been researching the effects that the Amazon Rainforest fires have on pediatric asthma in Peru. I selected this project because it involves mathematical modeling and sustainability, two of my passions. I presented this research at the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research and the Spring Undergraduate Research Forum.
Did you have a mentor or professor you worked closely with? How did that relationship enhance your Elon experience?
I have worked with Dr. Mark Weaver from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics for the past four years. He has shaped my Elon experience in so many ways and has pushed me to become a better scholar. He helped advise and mentor me through many of the different paths I have chosen to take at Elon.
What are your plans following graduation?
Beginning in June, I will be attending N.C. State University pursuing a Master of Science in Data Analytics.
As you reflect on your undergraduate experience, what’s been most valuable to you?
My Lumen and Honors research was the most formative for me. Taking the lead on such a hefty project was so fulfilling and difficult in the best way. This project, along with the coursework in the statistics major, have primed me for graduate school and my future professional career.
What advice would you give to future Elon students?
It’s okay to change your mind! I changed my major and minor at least five times. It will all work out, especially if you have solid relationships with faculty who can help you through it.