We sat down with Dr. Kristin Sainani in November 2021 and asked her a couple of questions about her current research on statistics, sports medicine, and science writing, her love of teaching, and more.
Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself? How did you get here (to Stanford Epidemiology & Population Health)? Was there something in particular that attracted you to the fields of science, public health and your area(s) of study?
I was always interested in biology/diseases. However, as an undergraduate, I found working in a wet lab tedious, so this led me to epidemiology. After running an epidemiologic study as a graduate student, I realized that I don’t enjoy any type of data collection. Rather, my favorite parts of science are playing with numbers and data, and communicating science. This led me to my current areas—statistics and science writing.
Can you please give us an overview of your work?
I provide statistical support for a range of studies in sports medicine. I also spend time trying to reduce statistical errors in the literature. Finally, I write about health, science, and statistics for a range of audiences.
Is there a class you love to teach (and why)?
My favorite subjects to teach are probability and writing. Probability problems are just fun. I love teaching writing to scientists because they are often unaware of the bad writing habits that they have picked up in academia—but as soon as you point these errors out to them, they are easy to fix.
Is there advice you would like to offer to students or other scientists interested in learning more about your field? How would you suggest they get started?
Students should learn about as many different subjects as possible and develop a broad skill set. Resist the temptation to only learn the esoteric vocabulary of a specific discipline. Always try to understand what you are learning from first principles. Also, computer programming is a must.
What kinds of activities do you pursue outside of work and why?
I am a lifelong distance runner. My competition days are long over, but I still get out to run most days.