SSC Early Career Educator Award 2023

Tiffany Timbers
SSC Early Career Educator Award

The SSC Early Career Educator Award recognizes excellence in teaching statistics by early career SSC members, through commitment to evidence-based pedagogy and in contributions to statistical education in Canada. Such excellence may be demonstrated through contributions to the scholarship of teaching and learning, attention to accessibility and inclusivity of learning environments, or innovation in development and/or implementation of new courses, curricula or programs.

Tiffany Timbers is an Associate Professor of Teaching in the Department of Statistics at the University of British Columbia. After completing her PhD in neuroscience at Simon Fraser University, she held Post-Doctoral positions at Simon Fraser and UBC before joining the UBC Department of Statistics in 2016 as a Teaching and Learning Fellow, and then a Professor of Teaching tenure-track role in 2018. She is co-director of the wildly successful Masters of Data Science (MDS) program at UBC, and has pioneered the use of many modern technological and pedagogical tools in that program, contributing in a large part to its success.

Tiffany teaches courses under the Data Science umbrella at UBC, including DSCI 100, the introductory data science course for undergraduates. Primarily, though, her duties are to the MDS program, teaching courses in programming for data science, programming for data manipulation, computing platforms, collaborative software development, data science workflows, statistical inference and the capstone project. Many of these courses have been either developed by, or dramatically adapted and improved by, Tiffany's advocacy and effort. As an internationally recognized leader in teaching data science, Tiffany is also a co-author of two textbooks (Data Science: A First Introduction and Python Packages), both open educational resources, and also available as published texts through CRC Press.

One notable aspect of Tiffany's work, as a statistics and data science educator, is that so much of her work has been outward facing: most productive and talented educators perform much of their work internally to their institution. Tiffany makes substantial effort to translate her work beyond the walls of her classroom, so that others outside UBC, and Canada, can benefit from her innovative approaches to teaching - this is emphasized by her licensing of developed materials under Creative Commons (CC-BY) licenses as open educational resources. Additionally, Tiffany's courses are recognized as being "some of the most innovative and well-designed data science courses in the world" by colleagues and leading voices in statistics and data science education globally.

Finally, Tiffany shows clear empathy for her students, acknowledging and recognizing the heterogeneous backgrounds they have. Her commitment to creating environments where as many people as possible are welcomed to the field of data science, to learn, is notable, and exemplified by the incorporation of code of conducts for her classrooms, ensuring that students and teaching staff have clear expectations regarding appropriate behavior, and ensuring that there is accountability. This is essential for broadening and diversifying the data science community.

Wesley Burr and Bruce Dunham were responsible for gathering this material.

The citation for the award reads: 

"To Tiffany Timbers, for her internationally recognized contributions to the fields of statistics and data science education; for her commitment to creating broadly accessible learning environments; and her clear vision, expansive knowledge, and passion for teaching data science to students from a wide variety of backgrounds."