Vital Signs, News from the Department of Medicine
University of Wisconsin-Madison
October 17, 2019
“I think most people would say, ‘I like my job.’ But I would say, ‘I love my job.’”
For Fay Osman, MPH, assistant researcher, Administration, her work as a biostatistician in the Department of Medicine’s Office of Research Services is as much about people and collaboration as it is about numbers and math.
Recognizing that statistical analysis can be intimidating, Osman works closely with junior faculty and learners across all divisions to not just “crunch numbers,” but also help interpret and communicate findings.
A Love for Research
Osman joined the department in November 2018 after completing a master’s in public health from the Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.
There, she completed coursework on epidemiology, statistics and environmental health, while working on research on environmental exposure in children. She also provided statistical consulting services for other students’ projects. A faculty advisor recognized her skill and suggested she pursue a career in biostatistics.
“I had [originally] wanted to be a clinician, but my love for research was greater,” she recalls. “I wanted to find a balance between the two…and it just made sense that biostatistics would be something I’d love doing.”
In the Office of Research Services, Osman splits her time between biostatistical consultation with researchers and carrying out specific project tasks. Deliverables may include a basic sample size calculation, a large-scale data analysis, a draft of methodology language for an abstract, a graphic for a manuscript or a poster presentation.
“There is a process, but it all depends on what the researcher is looking for,” she explains. “Researchers tell me what their vision is, and I make recommendations from my skill set.”
Osman says her goal is to support individual projects, and also help investigators better understand their data so they can become more self-sufficient.
To that end, she encourages researchers to get in touch and ask questions early, and over the course of a project, appreciates any opportunity to help expand their knowledge.
“When a person works with you once, and they come back, it makes you feel like you made an impact,” she says.