Before joining Cal State Fullerton in the fall, Valerie Poynor taught courses in UC Santa Cruz’s Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics, where she earned her doctorate. The assistant professor of mathematics also was a postdoctoral researcher at Santa Cruz’s Long Marine Laboratory and conducted research on statistical methods for fisheries management.
In particular, she developed a data-driven model that gathered information across multiple locations of the same fish species, leading to more precise predictions of future population size for specific locations. Poynor holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from California State University, Bakersfield.
Why did you pursue the opportunity to join the Titan community?
I am partial to the CSU system primarily because of my own personal experience as an undergraduate at CSU Bakersfield. I’m a first-generation college graduate and didn’t know what I was getting into by going to college. My professors were wonderful instructors and fantastic mentors. They pushed me to be my best and encouraged me to dream bigger than I knew possible. Without the guidance of my professors, I would not have attended graduate school, and thus, would not be where I am today.
I specifically chose Cal State Fullerton because I wanted to work at an institution that strongly valued teaching and also encouraged and supported faculty research. Here, there are many opportunities for me to continue growing in my own field of research, as well as opportunities to give back to the environment that manufactured the foundation of my academic success.
What do you most look forward to now that you’re here?
My classes are small compared to past teaching experiences, so I actually get to know each one of my students. Mathematics and statistics are intimidating subjects for most students, so I am enjoying helping students discover that they can comprehend the material and also excel in it.
What areas of continued scholarship and research are of particular interest to you?
My field of research is Bayesian nonparametric modeling with applications in survival analysis, neuroscience, and fisheries science and ecology. In Bayesian statistics, statisticians utilize previously known information to specify an appropriate prior distribution on the model parameters.
What are some of your outside activities, hobbies or interests?
I am a ‘workout-aholic’ and I have two Bengal cats that I spoil to the max and love to pieces. I love bodybuilding, cycling and yoga. I enjoy traveling to visit my friends and family who are spread all over the country.