No matter which field or career students enter, they are going to be tasked with answering questions based on data, surveys and spreadsheets.

J.T. Fry

While working in actuarial science, J.T. Fry knew he had an aptitude for mathematics. What he didn’t figure on was his affinity for teaching it to others.

Though he had set out to make a living in the insurance industry, Fry didn’t discover a passion for his work until he was three years into his career, when he was asked to help establish an actuarial science minor degree program at a local university. As he met with students and explained what it takes to achieve success in the field, he realized he loved the process of teaching students about actuarial science more than he loved the act of practicing it.

“I had a lot more fun going to the university and telling students how to do this than I did actually doing the job,” he recalls. “I thought, if I don’t love this job after three years, I’m not really going to enjoy it in 30 years, so I decided to go back to school to teach. There has not been one day since when I haven’t been excited to get up in the morning and work with students.”

Fry’s own work involves spatial statistics and predictive modeling — helping to develop more effective methods to interpret and analyze the flood of complex data that is available in an age of seemingly endless information.

“With each web page visited and each advertisement clicked, more and more information is generated,” Fry says. “Companies need employees with the analytical skills and tools to make business decisions based on all these data.

“Students realize quickly that the field of statistics is incredibly useful,” he continues. “No matter which field or career they enter, they are going to be tasked with answering questions based on data, surveys and spreadsheets. I want students to know what tools they have at their disposal to learn from that information.”

Posted September 2018