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Marla Prenger

Marla Prenger

BS Mathematics
University of Dayton

MAS - Masters of Applied Statistics
The Ohio State University

Associate Scientist
Proctor and Gamble

I was one of those rare freshmen who declared a major upon matriculation and never changed it. I chose a degree in mathematics for two reasons: I was good at it, and I enjoyed it. I figured that was all I needed to find a job which was both challenging and fun. Although I wasn't aware of the multitude of career opportunities at the time, I knew that the sound logic skills one hones while obtaining a degree in math would be useful in doing just about anything. How can you go wrong learning skills that can be applied to any type of problem in any job?

At the end of my junior year, I began exploring the option of going to graduate school. While I enjoyed the math classes a great deal, I knew that I didn't want a job doing more or less pure math, and I didn't want to teach. I did, however, want a career working in science as opposed to business. The applied math courses I took gave me a taste of the possibilities of what I could do as a mathematician in the scientific community.

After graduation I went on to get a master's degree in applied statistics from Ohio State University, where my degree in mathematics was obviously a benefit. Students coming into the program with undergraduate degrees in statistics didn't necessarily fare as well as those coming in with a more theoretical background in mathematics. In any graduate program, experience in dealing with theoretical concepts and being able to logically progress through a complex problem is invaluable. That experience was afforded me by my degree in mathematics.

Currently I work for Procter & Gamble as an Associate Scientist. My primary responsibility is to provide statistical support for various research projects in the arthritis area. As a statistician, my involvement starts at the planning stages of an experiment or assay, where determining an appropriate and efficient study design is imperative to being competitive in the industry. I believe the logical thought processes I developed as a mathematician give me an advantage in drawing on my statistical knowledge to explore and evaluate design options. Solid, critical thinking is required not only to design the study, but also to analyze the data and, in conjunction with the scientists, provide some interpretation of the results. Often the discussion of these results leads to new ideas and hypotheses to be tested.

I thoroughly enjoy the career I've chosen, and I have no question that I wouldn't be here if I had not started my training with a degree in mathematics. The analytical problem-solving skills one develops working through a mathematics curriculum are highly valuable and transferable to any future aspiration.