Doctor of Philosophy
Statistics and Actuarial Sciences
Environment and Sustainability
Woolford, Douglas G.
Dean, Charmaine B.
University of Waterloo
This thesis considers and articulates principles of interdisciplinary knowledge exchange in two contexts: the development of novel techniques for the study of wildland fire lifetimes; and, to understand improvements in the student training environment focusing on graduate teaching assistants, developing a training program on active learning for graduate teaching assistants in the mathematical and statistical sciences.
Wildland fire science is an area of research that requires interdisciplinary expertise to advance its body of knowledge. Wildland fires that are suppressed have a "lifetime" that consists of several sequential phases, including what are called detection and action phases. The interconnectedness of these phases is often overlooked when studying fire responses, and we develop methods to fill that gap in this thesis. In particular, we consider such a framework for the analysis of fire data from the Sioux Lookout District in northwestern Ontario. Multi-state modelling and joint frailty modelling techniques are employed. Comparisons of different frailty distributions and random effect forms are considered, and a simulation study is performed to highlight the advantages of a flexible model form for the joint frailty models. Using the joint frailty models, we find that fires with longer detection phases are associated with longer action phases, and that the action phase lengths may be increasing over time. Collaboration with fire scientists throughout the development of this work was critical and is especially important for ensuring the impact of it at fire management agencies.
The importance of collaboration in statistics is emphasized in how education in this field is conducted. A workshop on active learning techniques, which aid in the exchange of knowledge between students and instructors, was developed for graduate teaching assistants at the University of Western Ontario. A survey study of graduate teaching assistant perceptions about active learning before and after participating in a workshop on active learning in mathematical and statistical sciences was performed. Learnings from this study are discussed.
Summary for Lay Audience
This thesis applies the principles of knowledge exchange --- a "push and pull" of information --- in the development of novel techniques for the study of wildland fire lifetimes and the development of a training program to enhance the statistical education of graduate teaching assistants.
Our first study focuses on the lifetimes of suppressed wildland fires that have several sequential phases. We are interested in characterizing what drives these phases as well as understanding how the time in earlier phases may impact the latter portion of a fire’s lifetime. We consider the detection phase, consisting of the time from the ignition to the report of a fire, and the action phase, consisting of the time from report to being declared "under control". Fires with a longer detection phase can have a longer than anticipated action phase, when compared to fires that were reported quicker. This makes sense because if it takes longer to find and report a fire after it is ignited then it may grow larger and could possibly take longer to bring under control. By explicitly linking the two phases, we can identify how they are connected or interact with one another. Knowledge exchange was used throughout the entire process of studying wildland fire lifetimes by attending interdisciplinary conferences, engaging with interdisciplinary researchers, and collaborating with fire scientists, to name a few approaches.
Our second study moves away from wildland fire and into statistical education since the importance of collaboration in statistics is emphasized in how education in this field is conducted. The training program developed for graduate teaching assistants consists of a workshop on active learning, which are techniques that aid in the exchange of knowledge between students and instructors (or graduate teaching assistants). We performed a survey study at the University of Western Ontario to examine graduate teaching assistant perceptions about active learning before and after participating in a workshop on active learning in mathematical and statistical sciences. Learnings from this study are discussed.
Uggenti, Chelsea, "Interdisciplinary Knowledge Exchange in Statistics with Applications in Fire Science and Statistical Education" (2022). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 8639.
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