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CSU alumna aids in a UN population growth study

CSU Alumna, Bailey Fosdick, returned to her home state to join the university's department of statistics faculty. (Photo Credit: Luke Hyce)
CSU Alumna, Bailey Fosdick, returned to her home state to join the university’s department of statistics faculty. (Photo Credit: Luke Hyce)

A Colorado State University alumna and current faculty member aided in a joint University of Washington and United Nations research program to create a population growth prediction model.

Bailey Fosdick, a native Coloradan from Steamboat Springs, graduated from Colorado State and joined the graduate program for statistics at the University of Washington. There she was asked to join a team to establish a model for global population growth and generate a report detailing it.

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The scientific report, titled “World population stabilization unlikely this century,” was released by the United Nations and published in Science earlier this year.

Fosdick chose to tackle this project because of the impact the study could have around the world.

“Often times as statisticians, we see an area of research that needs addressing from the statistical side, we develop methods, and then sometimes it takes a while to actually put it into practice,” Fosdick said. “But this was a project where there was a lot of potential to actually make policy impact. Change the world.”

Fosdick thinks the research she and her colleagues have completed could change how we look at environmental issues, and possibly push policy changes in the coming years.

The model differs from those created in the past, projecting the global population to grow until the end of the century.

Unlike other models, it uses past patterns to predict fertility and death rates in regions around the globe. It, however, doesn’t consider the utilization of governmental policy to affect the values.

“It’s too hard to predict future policy changes,” Fosdick said. “We can see, in 100 years, who was right.”

After the project ended, Fosdick returned to Colorado State to join the faculty team in the statistics department. Currently she is working on studies focused around social networks. The work includes the obvious, Facebook and Twitter, but also investigates things from high school social connections to grooming patterns in baboons, according to Fosdick.

“I love animals, so baboons get me really excited,” Fosdick added.

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Collegian Reporter Luke Hyce can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @luke_hyce.

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