Valar Morghulis

Game of Thrones, for those of you who are not familiar (I am really not; see disclaimer), is famous for high mortality rates that make viewers and readers very angry. As a global health graduate student (with a lot of free time at the moment…) I became interested in figuring out precisely how bloody this universe was, whether deaths varied by gender and status/occupation/affiliation, and how mortality in Westeros compares to mortality in low- and middle-income countries. The professor for a course I’m TAing in a few weeks also mentioned that he wanted an assignment on life tables, so, you know, I figured I should learn what they are.

No character names are used in this blog post, but I guess there might be spoilers if you can back-calculate in your head. Continue reading “Valar Morghulis”

Valar Morghulis

What’s in a Name? Terrorism and Development in the Water and Conflict Chronology Database

Water conflict is one of those topics that inspires terrific divisiveness: it’s either entirely over-hyped or the secret source of all mass migrations and international power struggles for the next century. There is, of course, a large and well-argued middle ground, but policy circles are often dominated by the groups with the more thrilling, oversimplified narratives. Continue reading “What’s in a Name? Terrorism and Development in the Water and Conflict Chronology Database”

What’s in a Name? Terrorism and Development in the Water and Conflict Chronology Database

Burdens of Disease.

People have been asking me lately, as I’ve bounced from place to place, why I find the Middle East an interesting place to pursue global health work. There are about fifty different answers to this, but in short: I think inequality within countries makes for more challenging distribution of resources than inequality between countries, I’m interested in how healthcare can be used as a political tool, and I expect the challenges much of the region faces now to be similar to those some areas of Africa will face in twenty-thirty years. But the easiest explanation is quick and visual.

Continue reading “Burdens of Disease.”


Rice Admissions

It’s been about a week since I’ve had to do any data analysis, so I thought I’d throw some in for kicks.

Undergrads at Rice like to say they don’t care much about rankings, or hold much credence in them; this is true until we’re #1 quality of life or #1 happiest students, at which point my facebook feed blows up with links to Kiplinger or Princeton Review. I’ve never tried to lie about it – I think Rice is beyond excellent, and I love seeing that validated numerically by whoever’s putting together the stats. Anyway, we’ve spent the past few years tied with Vanderbilt at #17 in US News (and behind Brown and Cornell, seriously?), and I think this is the year we’ll jump up to top 15.

This is where it started: numbers for Early Decision applicants came out last week. And…well, damn.

Here are some numbers from 2007 onward, with 2012 projections in red (all of these are from press releases the school puts out during each admissions cycle – feel free to go to the main site and search away).

Class size is the key. Though our acceptance rates have declined as our applicant pool has grown, Rice has also been undergoing a period of undergraduate population expansion – my class of 2008 is about 200 students smaller than the class that just matriculated (yes, I hate expansion, thanks for asking). This growth has done a lot to mask the increase in competitiveness. Last year, for example, admissions failed to anticipate the increased yield, and we had to kick off upperclassmen to make room for 51 extra freshmen. We’re aiming for a total undergrad population of 3,800, so I’m guessing they’ll drop back down to a goal class size of 950.

Acceptance rate is where it gets tricky. 17.5% acceptance is what you get if you follow the acceptance rate trendline, but we go all the way down to 15.6% if you follow the applicant trendline and calculate backwards using expected yield (which I think is the more valid method).

None of this is good for those vying for a spot in the class of 2016, but I’m calling a huge jump in rankings and looking forward to seeing Prez Leebz’s efforts pay off.

Rice Admissions