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Tunstall Receives C. Oswald George Prize

Luke Tunstall PhotoThe PRIME community would like to extend a congratulatory note to 2019 PRIME graduate, Luke Tunstall, who was awarded the C. Oswald George prize for an article he co-authored in the academic journal Teaching Statistics. The C. Oswald George prize has been awarded for nearly 20 years now and recognizes the best paper each year published in Teaching Statistics. The article, titled “Calculated democracy – Explorations in gerrymandering”, co-written with David McCune of William Jewell College, describes an activity that both Tunstall and McCune have used in their courses where students can apply statistics to gerrymandering, which they defined as “the intentional changing of district boundaries to gain partisan advantage.”

The article came about after David McCune had reached out to Luke after the Joint Math Meetings a few years ago. Luke gave a brief presentation where he alluded to having interest in developing materials for such political activities in the classroom. The activity, as Luke used it, provides students with a drawing like the one below, and has students explore how the drawing of district lines might benefit one political party or another (parties represented by circles and triangles in this image). David, who also has a computer science background, would do a similar activity but also have his students explore various simulations of reshaping district boundaries using computer software.

Luke Gerrymandering picture with circles and trianglesThe activity allowed for additional discussions about actual historical gerrymandering and how this is not something of ancient history but has recent and probably future applications to real life events. Luke noted that he has been impressed that “students could use basic quantitative literacy skills to understand fairness in voting regardless of their partisan leanings.”

The activity allowed for additional discussions about actual historical gerrymandering and how this is not something of ancient history but has recent and probably future applications to real life events. Luke noted that he has been impressed that “students could use basic quantitative literacy skills to understand fairness in voting regardless of their partisan leanings.”

As for the reward, Luke said he had never heard of the C. Oswald George prize prior to receiving it, but his initial reaction was that he was “grateful, surprised, and happy that others found it interesting enough to give it a nod for a good article in the journal that year.” From all of us in the PRIME community, we want to recognize this wonderful achievement from one of our alumni and say “Congratulations, Luke!”

Luke Tunstall is currently the Director of the Quantitative Reasoning Skills Center at Trinity University in San Antonio, TX.

Written by

Kevin Voogt