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Arnold School of Public Health


I Am Public Health: Roy Bower

September 1, 2016 | Erin Bluvas, bluvase@sc.edu 

Roy Bower loves high-level mathematics and statistics, but he wants his work to make an impact on real-world issues. That’s where public health comes in, particularly the field of biostatistics.

“Performing high-level theoretical mathematics and statistics is beautiful and personally satisfying, but many times it isn’t necessarily practical or useful in the real world,” says Bower. “I wanted to do work that could potentially have a positive impact on society, and biostatistics gave me a better chance to research topics that better relate to real-world problems.”

Bower had a gift for mathematics from an early age, and the Pittsburgh-native majored in the subject as an undergraduate at John Caroll University. He stuck around his alma mater to earn a Master of Science in Mathematics, and then earned a Master of Science in Applied Statistics at Villanova University. Bower next enrolled in the University of South Carolina for his third back-to-back master’s degree—this time a Master of Science in Statistics.

I wanted to do work that could potentially have a positive impact on society, and biostatistics gave me a better chance to research topics that better relate to real-world problems.

-Roy Bower, Ph.D. in Biostatistics Student

He chose to stay a Gamecock to earn a Ph.D. because of the Arnold School’s excellent program in biostatistics. Just 12 months into his program, Bower only has one more semester to go before he graduates in December of 2016. With support from his many mentors, including dissertation chair and Associate Professor James Hardin, Bower’s research interests include modeling bivariate data, hypothesis testing, score tests, likelihood ratio tests, Wald tests, and Copula functions. 

“Get to know your professors,” Bower suggests. “Don’t be afraid to contact them and ask them questions. They have vast and helpful knowledge and will be able to guide you in whatever you want to do. Listen to them closely and carefully. They used to be where you are now and know what you are going through.”

Be prepared to work hard and approach your degree like it is a full-time job, because it is. Get involved with your academics and research, and learn to be proactive. Don’t sit back and wait for problems, whatever they may be, to solve themselves."

-Roy Bower, Ph.D. in Biostatistics Student

After graduation, Bower plans to pursue a career as a professor in statistics, biostatistics, and/or mathematics. He’s looking forward to teaching as well as continuing his research. Bower has considerable experience in teaching through his part-time instructor position teaching STAT 201 and STAT 509 in the Department of Statistics. In addition, he already has several manuscripts in preparation where he will serve as lead author on the peer-reviewed publications.

Though Bower’s path is a hard one to follow, he has some lessons learned to share with current and prospective students. “Be prepared to work hard and approach your degree like it is a full-time job, because it is,” he says. “Get involved with your academics and research, and learn to be proactive.” Finally, “Don’t sit back and wait for problems, whatever they may be, to solve themselves.” Pun intended.