Dean's Medalist has passion for statistics and sports

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Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2022 graduates.

Trent Lindstrom is the Dean’s Medalist for the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences. He is a third-year senior and will graduate this month with a Bachelor of Science in mathematics with a concentration in statistics, a minor in political science, and a certificate in sports, culture and ethics.

Lindstrom is a Chandler, Arizona, native and during his early years of high school decided to study statistics.

“I have loved math for as long as I can remember, and I always wanted to pursue a degree in a math-related field,” he said.

Honored as a National Merit Scholar, Lindstrom chose to attend ASU because it offered him an opportunity to graduate from a university debt-free while living close to home. He boasts an impressive mathematics GPA of 4.14 while taking some of the most challenging senior-level mathematics courses, as well as a couple of graduate-level statistics courses. In the fall he plans to return to ASU to complete his master’s degree in statistics as part of ASU’s 4+1 program.

Lindstrom is a huge sports fan and is almost always watching some sporting event. 

“My weekends are typically spent watching sports from when I wake up until late in the evening,” he said.

It is no surprise that many of his ASU projects have been centered on sports. As a student in Barrett, The Honors College, Lindstrom completed his honors thesis titled “Data Analytics in College Sports: How Statistics Can Be Used To Predict Sun Devil Success.” He created a regression model to predict the result of Sun Devil football games.

Larry Schneider worked with Lindstrom on two different Barrett Honors contracts and his thesis project.

“I think that one quality that Trent has been able to use so successfully is his time management skills. He has an innate ability to know how to pace himself, so that he can complete exams and projects on time, while still challenging himself to go beyond what is expected for the assignment. This is a critical skill which had helped him excel at ASU and when he is working in private industry,” Schneider said.

Lindstrom has worked as a data analyst at the W. P. Carey School of Business' Technology Strategy and Operations department since he entered ASU as a first-year student in 2019. He assisted with data collection and analysis on a modeling project centered around different business school rankings, along with providing general IT support for faculty, staff and students, especially during the pandemic.

“I love statistics because it provides an opportunity to analyze the world around us in a consistent, quantitative fashion. Statistics can be used in almost every academic setting, workplace, or even just an individual’s daily life to optimize performance or just learn more about how something or someone works,” Lindstrom said.

Schneider points to Lindstrom's attention to detail as one of the reasons that he is such an excellent student and has been so successful at ASU.

"This skill along with his ability to ‘think outside the box’ will make him successful in any field, but particularly in a field as thought provoking and challenging as statistics," Schneider said.

We asked Lindstrom to share more about his journey as a Sun Devil.

Question: What is the best piece of advice you would give to those still in school?

Answer: My biggest piece of advice would be to always give yourself time off of schoolwork to focus on things you enjoy. Whether that be an hour or two each night to relax and decompress with a movie, or time on the weekend to spend with friends, it is very important to not allow school to consume your entire life.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: Professor Laurence Schneider taught me the most important lesson at ASU, which was to pursue projects that I am passionate about while utilizing the skills I have learned. This helped me greatly in his class on regression, as well as giving me a platform for working on my honors thesis project.

Q: What do you think is most misunderstood about math or statistics by the general public?

A: I think most people misunderstand statistics because they do not have a good understanding of probability. The foundation of statistics is based on a sound idea of probability, and without that, it becomes very difficult to understand how to interpret the work of statisticians.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: While $40 million would not solve the problem on its own, I would use it to tackle the issue of how we vote across the U.S. The pandemic provided an opportunity for many throughout the country to use mail-in voting for the first time, and I strongly believe that a push towards providing numerous different ways of voting and making it easier for everyone to access the ballot box will benefit the country in the long-run.

Q: Looking to the future, if you could wave a magic wand and see yourself in your dream job, what would that be and why?

A: My dream job would be working in the analytics department for a professional sports team in the U.S. I have been a huge sports fan my whole life, and the recent explosion of data in the sports world inspired me to become a statistics major. I hope to one day be able to combine my passions for statistics and sports into a career that allows me to apply what I have learned while obtaining my degree into the competitive world of professional sports.

Rhonda Olson
Rhonda.Olson@asu.edu

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