Upham Hall, home of the Department of Statistics
Upham Hall, home of the Department of Statistics

Hurricane statistics article published

Statistics Professor and student publish article on natural hazards

When most people think about statistics, the first thing that comes to their mind isn't’t usually hurricanes, tornados, or earthquakes.

Professor of Statistics Dr. Tatjana Miljkovic and her two students, Lin Fang and Jiayu Wu, aren’t most people. Their article, “Modeling Impact of Natural Hazard-Induced Disasters on Income Distribution in the United States,” was recently published in the International Journal of Disaster Risk Science.

The study, which considered the period 1970-2013, aimed to predict the degree of income inequality by state based on the intensity of property losses and other economic, sociodemographic, and political factors. Miljkovic says in the study, “The correlation between gini coefficient as a measure of income inequality and natural hazards is something that no one has looked at it before. Our findings should be really important for policy makers because they should be conscientious of this in the ways that they provide relief funds.”

The project took over a year from start to finish, which is why Miljkovic says it is important to look for smaller milestones when taking on a big research project. “First milestone was presenting the results of this project at the Undergraduate Research Forum at Miami in April, 2017, so Fang and Wu had to put together a poster for that. Second milestone was presenting the project at Actuarial Research Conference in Atlanta in July 2017”. She says, “It helps when you have goals.”

Miljkovic also says that “having two students is helpful when tackling a large project. “... a team of two is enough for them to work together,’” she says. “Even though I distribute tasks and I meet with the students on a weekly basis, before one of them comes to me and say “Oh, I really don’t know how to handle this, two usually figure it out.” This approach promotes independence and teaches students how to collaborate effectively in a team setting.

When asked about some of the benefits of undergraduate research, Miljkovic says recognition for professor and student is among the top, as well as student skill development. She also says Miami’s Undergraduate Research Award was helpful in conducting the study. “Our URA [award] provided a great resource, because we get a little money to use for research,” Miljkovic says.

To read their study on natural hazards, click here.