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Student & Alumni Achievements

Student & Alumni Achievements

UMass: ASA Public Health Data Challenge Winning Student Team Publishes Article on Opioids in the U.S.

University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences Ms. Arianna Kazemi, Mr. Connor Kennedy and Ms. Gabri Silverman, undergraduate winners of the American Statistical Association (ASA) Public Health Data Challenge, and their advisor, associate professor of biostatistics Dr. Nicholas Reich, have published an article exploring the differences in the death, arrest and reoffending rates for opioid users in the U.S. The publication, which summarizes the results of their winning analysis, appears in the current issue of Significance, the journal of both the ASA and the Royal Statistical Society.

As part of the ASA Public Health Data Challenge, the team decided to study the treatment of addicts who interact with the criminal justice system. Using a number of data sets, including those from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and their problem-solving skills, the team proposes recommendations on how local officials should fight the national opioid epidemic.

The authors suggest that providing methadone treatment in prison combined with a greater use of public treatment center referrals will help lower recidivism rates, provide addiction support, and result in fewer deaths.

Ms. Gabri Silverman is currently enrolled in the MPH graduate program in epidemiology after earning her Bachelor’s degree in public health sciences in May 2019. Ms. Arianna Kazemi is a senior biochemistry and informatics dual degree student, while Mr. Connor Kennedy is a senior mathematics student.

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