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First ASA Pride Scholarship Recipients Announced

Evan Boyle and Holly Bossart are the recipients of the 2021 Pride Scholarship. Although fundraising efforts are underway to reach a goal of $30,000 to endow the scholarship, two anonymous donors provided funding so the scholarships could be awarded to Boyle and Bossart this year.

About Evan Boyle

Boyle is a postdoctoral scholar in the department of cellular and molecular medicine at the University of California, San Diego, where he is studying the role of paralogs in genetic robustness and exploring RNA-binding protein binding modes.

While pursuing his postdoctoral studies, Boyle co-founded the Diversity and Science Lecture Series (DASL, or “dazzle”) to empower trainees in science to share their research and comments on equity, diversity, and inclusion with a broad audience. This lecture series has proved to be successful in improving trainees’ communication skills, serving as a conduit for faculty and staff to hear diverse trainee perspectives, providing networking opportunities, and affording a platform for trainees to express their opinions on issues that matter to them.

Even with the quick success of DASL, Boyle realized there was still no community-building organization for LGBTQ+ postdocs. To meet that need, he started an inclusive group open to all San Diego queer and allied scholars, the Queer Science Society.

“We run discussion groups on research articles and surveys on queer identity and experience, which I hope will fuel future critical discussion of being queer in STEM,” says Boyle.

Boyle is passionate about providing community and support for the LGBTQ+ scholar community in the San Diego area, and the ASA Pride Scholarship will help him continue to pursue these endeavors.

“I believe that the Queer Science Society will serve as both a source of personal support and as a networking opportunity. For both these reasons, the scholarship money will help advance LGBTQ+ careers,” says Boyle.

About Holly Bossart

Bossart is a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon University, where she is conducting research on the causal effects of incarceration on depressive symptoms. In the future, she hopes to work on issues relating to sexual and gender minority status, mental health, and criminal justice contact.

As a statistics PhD student, Bossart knows more than the modal person about outliers. “In my first semester at Carnegie Mellon, I took a course about applied data analysis. In it, we were taught how to spot outliers and how to decide if we should do something about them so they don’t muddle our analysis,” says Holly.

She goes on to say, “Outliers were points that needed to be fixed and done away with. I never really realized that as a queer woman in statistics, I maybe knew a little more about outliers, and being one, than I had given myself credit for.”

However, especially during the pandemic, Bossart and her peers recognized an important skill she has, and that is bringing people together and creating community. She is an advocate and an ally for fellow queer students in the field and connects to others in a way that makes them feel supported and encouraged to pursue statistics.

Bossart says receiving this award is an affirmation—as a statistician and as a queer woman—that sometimes you shouldn’t always try to fix your outliers.

“Sometimes they really aren’t outliers at all. Sometimes they’re just part of the underlying distribution,” says Bossart.

The ASA Pride Scholarship was established to raise awareness for and support the success of LGBTQ+ statisticians and data scientists and allies. The scholarship will celebrate their diverse backgrounds and showcase the invaluable skills and perspectives these individuals bring to the ASA, statistics, and data science.

Visit ASA Celebrates Pride to donate to and learn more about the ASA Pride Scholarship, as well as to see what other activities the ASA is hosting during Pride Month.