Rhonda Magel, Ph.D
Professor and Chair, Department of Statistics
When writing about a statistics professor, it’s hard to resist noting some quick statistics. Department of Statistics professor and chair, Rhonda Magel, has:
- been at NDSU for 26 years
- more than 35 publications to her name
- chaired the Department of Statistics since 1990
- held full professor status since July, 1996.
Her role at NDSU goes beyond such quick stat shots, however. Like her field of study, Magel’s work is far reaching.
"It doesn't matter if you know much about statistics or not; statistics is affecting the life of every human on the planet," Magel said. “It is used in medicine, politics, business, entertainment, criminal justice, as well as many other disciplines.”
Magel excelled at mathematics while growing up and credits some of this to her 5th grade math teacher, who excitedly taught the subject first every class day. “It’s really important, especially in elementary school that teachers know the material and are excited about the subjects they are teaching”, said Magel. She earned her undergraduate degree at West Chester University, Pennsylvania, a master's degree at Wichita (Kan.) State University and her doctorate at the University of Missouri in Rolla. She came to NDSU along with her husband, Ken Magel, professor of computer science. They have a daughter and two sons.
Because statistics is such a far-reaching specialty, Magel is particularly sought after to serve on graduate students’ committees. She has served on graduate committees in such fields as nutrition and exercise science, pharmacy, engineering, child development and family science, biology, animal and range science, business administration, communications and criminal justice. Last year alone, Magel served on 44 thesis or dissertation committees. She served as chair or co-chair on 17 on those committees. This has been typical for the last three years as graduate studies at NDSU continues to grow. Magel enjoys the opportunity to get to know graduate students from all over campus and learning about their research.
The Department of Statistics offers many different degree programs. Magel has taught undergraduate and graduate students both as majors and as non-majors. Magel enjoys teaching a wide variety of students. This is one of her favorite aspects of the job in addition to pursuing research.
Some of Magel’s current research involves developing nonparametric statistical tests for a mixed design model. She also developed nonparametric tests under order restricted inference. Recently, she published a paper with an undergraduate student on slugging percentages in baseball. She is also preparing to submit a paper with a graduate student on a “Strategy for Drafting Players in Fantasy Football.” Magel has worked on research with other faculty members in the Department of Statistics including associate professor Jeff Terpstra and assistant professor Fu-Chih Cheng.
In addition to students, Magel’s work affects every faculty member at NDSU. Magel has conducted the faculty salary study for the campus for at least the last 10 years. The study uses a model she devised to compare NDSU salaries to “market” salaries, and also tests for race and/or gender discrimination. This is done in conjunction with the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Global Outreach.
Magel believes in the importance of physical exercise and works out at the YMCA several times per week. She participates in several 5-kilometer and 10-kilometer runs during the year.