DEI Committee participates in Go Further Conference for 8-10th grade girls

The DEI Committee in the Department of Statistics has started joining efforts to get students of diverse backgrounds interested in Statistics. On October 27th and November 1st, we participated in the Go Further Conference organized by the Program for Women in Science and Engineering (WISE). The conference is for 8-10th grade girls.1

Laura Ziegler organized an activity about Smelling Parkinson’s. The activity is about Joy Milne who was able to identify whether or not someone had Parkinson’s using her sense of smell.2 To test her claim, Joy was presented with 12 different shirts, each worn by a different person, some of whom had Parkinson’s and some of whom did not. The shirts were given to Joy in a random order and she had to decide whether each shirt was worn by a Parkinson’s patient or not. She identified 11 out of 12 correctly. The person she incorrectly identified as having Parkinson’s later developed Parkinson’s.

In the activity, students conducted a simulation to investigate how likely it is to randomly guess 11 or 12 correct out of 12, and discussed whether or not there is sufficient evidence to claim that Joy could smell Parkinson’s. Students had a lot of fun “smelling” cards with pictures of shirts on them and making guesses. For those of you that are curious, since this discovery, dogs have been trained to smell for Parkinson’s (e.g., PADs for Parkinson’s,, researchers were able to isolate the chemical that Joy was smelling, and a swab test has been created to test for Parkinson’s claimed to be 95% accurate.3

Thank you to all of you who helped make this happen: 

Statistics Faculty:  Laura Ziegler, Emily Berg, Anna Peterson

Statistics Undergraduate Student:  Srika raja

Statistics Graduate Students:  Yanghyeon Cho, Moushumi Pervin, Fangshu Ye

Psychology Graduate Students:  Lawrion Anderson, Maya Irvin-Vitela, Haley Williamson


Smelling Cards


2 Tyson, D. (n.d.). MrTysonStats. Retrieved November 16, 2022, from

3Quigley, E. (2022, September 7). Parkinson's test: Woman who smelled disease on husband helps scientists. BBC News. Retrieved October 12, 2022, from