In what he described as the “largest conference” he has ever been to, St. F.X. third year math student and Antigonish native Christopher van Bommel had the honour of giving a presentation.
At the 40th annual meeting of the Statistical Society of Canada, hosted by the University of Guelph June 3 to 6, van Bommel presented on the sample selection and data analysis methods he employed to generate the population estimates for the recently released Keeping Pace study by St. F.X. professors Angie Thompson and Laurie Wadsworth.
Keeping Pace was a study on the physical activity levels and dietary intake of Nova Scotia students in grades 3, 7 and 11. It has been conducted every four years, this was the third installment, and supported by the provincial government. The most recent results were released June 6.
“It went well,” van Bommel said of his presentation.
“There were questions for clarification and people who said they thought it was very interesting,” he added, in regards to feedback he received at the conference.
van Bommel was approached by his statistics professor, Xu (Sunny) Wang, about getting involved in the study and he noted while his focus has been math, statistics is something that certainly appeals to him.
“I intended to do math up to last year but then started doing more statistics,” he said. “So it was interesting looking at a different side of that subject area [with this study].”
In talking about the methods he employed with the study, van Bommel said the first thing to be considered is how the data was collected.
“Based on that, it can complicate how it has to be analyzed,” he said, noting, for example, a consideration would be students from one school having similar results.
Funding for his trip to Guelph was provided by Science Atlantic, the Statistical Society of Canada, St. F.X. and grants from professors Thompson and Wadsworth.
van Bommel is taking honours math at St. F.X. and plans to continue with grad studies. He added he hasn’t chosen a school at this point.
van Bommel said his ultimate goal is to teach and, in the meantime, he is enjoying the St. F.X. experience.
“It’s nice to have a small department because you get to know the professors,” he said.