The capstone experience enables students to participate in an extensive data analysis project or in the development and evaluation of statistical methods. The usual format is a semester-long independent study under the supervision of one of the professors in the Department of Biostatistics or affiliated departments. During the independent study, students are expected to work with a professor on research projects that include major statistical components. When the supervising professor is outside of the Department of Biostatistics, the Director of the Undergraduate Statistics Concentration oversees the capstone experience to ensure it includes a substantial statistical component that fulfills the intentions of the Concentration.
An example of recent capstone project includes an analysis of the United States Renal Data System to identify whether doctors tend to increase the doses of Erythropoiesis-stimulating agent towards the end of life. Another example is an evaluation of a method designed to identify pairs of Veteran Administration nursing homes with similar past hospitalization and mortality rates that will be randomized within pairs in a future clinical trial.
Honors in statistics requires the completion of a senior thesis and a superior record in the program. Concentrators who choose to write honor thesis are required to write a manuscript that describes a major project of statistical data analysis that they performed or a simulation study to evaluate the performance of a statistical method. Students that decide to write an honor thesis will generally integrate their capstone project into their thesis.
Examples of recent honor thesis include a comparison of the performance of Integrated Nested Laplacian Approximation to Markov chain Monte Carlo algorithm for missing data imputation, and A Bayesian multinomial logistic regression analysis of the influence of genetic predisposition for risk-taking and perceived behavior of role models on Mexican-American adolescent alcohol use.