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Lane-Getaz to deliver this year’s Mellby Lecture

Professor of Statistics and Education Sharon Lane-Getaz will deliver a Mellby Lecture titled "The Long, Winding Road of a Career."
Professor of Statistics and Education Sharon Lane-Getaz will deliver a Mellby Lecture titled “The Long, Winding Road of a Career.” Photo by Enrico Tamayo ’25

St. Olaf College Professor of Statistics and Education Sharon Lane-Getaz will deliver the spring Mellby Lecture on March 2.

 Her lecture, titled “The Long, Winding Road of a Career” will begin at 11:30 a.m. in Viking Theater. It is free and open to the public, and will be streamed live and archived online.

In her talk, Lane-Getaz will reflect on her lengthy, accomplished career before she retires at the end of the spring semester. She will begin by outlining the trajectory of her research, which led to the development of an instrument to measure introductory-level students’ understanding of p-values and statistical significance. She will also share the path that led her from an 18-year career at IBM, where she worked as a systems engineer and manager, to a profession in teaching.

Lane-Getaz earned her undergraduate degree from Trenton State College (now The College of New Jersey), where she majored in mathematics. The fall semester of her senior year, she attended Harvard University as a guest of the graduate program in applied mathematics. A summer internship at IBM led to a career there, which included moves from New Jersey to Georgia and then to Minnesota. It was in Minneapolis that Lane-Getaz heeded the call to teach mathematics and statistics in secondary school. She earned a master’s degree in teaching in 2003 at Hamline University, followed by a Ph.D. in statistics education from the University of Minnesota.

In addition to teaching middle and high school mathematics, statistics, and geometry, Lane-Getaz taught at the University of Minnesota, California Polytechnic State University, and Macalester College. She joined the St. Olaf faculty in spring 2007 as an adjunct professor in statistics and returned in fall 2008 for a joint appointment in statistics and education.  

Lane-Getaz’s talk will also reflect on her life outside of the classroom, which included some of the most valuable experiences in her educational career. She served as a mentor for the Posse program, a college access and youth leadership development initiative that has a partnership with St. Olaf.  She also served as a mentor and co-director for dataSTEM, an initiative — funded with a significant grant from the National Science Foundation — that aims to support low-income STEM students as they gain advanced skills and expertise in data analysis. In addition to her work with these programs, Lane-Getaz travelled to South Africa with Social Work and Family Studies faculty member Mary Carlsen’s class for an Interim program in January 2017. Her talk will touch on all of these experiences, she says, as well as “the protests during the George Floyd summer, and some general thoughts of being a Black, female dyke professor.”

She notes that her most important work outside the classroom is her devotion to her family, which includes her wife, Betsy, and daughter, Audrey Lane-Getaz ’22. She will also talk about her hobbies. “I am an avid gardener. I will have a few photos to illustrate much of what I talk about, including some from my garden!” she says. “I like podcasts, puzzles, word games, crosswords, and I love watching a good movie, play, musical, or football game — I am a Philadelphia Eagles fan from way back.” 

About the Mellby Lectures
The annual Mellby Lectures remember St. Olaf faculty member Carl A. Mellby. Established in 1983, they allow professors to share their research with the public. Mellby, the “the father of social sciences” at St. Olaf, started the college’s first courses in economics, sociology, political science, and art history. He was professor and administrator from 1901 to 1949, taught Greek, German, French, religion, and philosophy, and developed the college’s honor system.