Faculty Focus – Jennifer Montez


Jennifer Karas Montez


Professor of Sociology

How long have you been at the Maxwell School?

Six years

What department do you work in?

Department of Sociology, Aging Studies Institute, and Center for Aging and Policy Studies

How do you use technology in your research and/or teaching?

I use several massive datasets for my research on how U.S. state policy contexts affect how long and healthy we live. These datasets contain hundreds of pieces of information on millions of people each year. They also contain information on the U.S. state in which those people reside. For example, the data has information on people’s age, sex, education level, occupation, and health, as well as their state’s minimum wage level, investment in public schooling, tobacco control, tax policies, and more. The datasets are so large, they must analyzed on ICT’s virtual computing platform using a multi-processor version of Stata. Even still, some statistical analyses of the data take up to 10 hours to process. I also work with highly restricted data from U.S. death records, provided through a data users agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I work with ICT to securely maintain it and adhere to the data use requirements.

I teach graduate-level courses in statistics, which requires students to use Stata to analyze quantitative data. Several classes throughout the semester are dedicated “Stata labs”, where students gradually build their Stata programming skills. We use the computer labs in Eggers for those sessions. Outside of class, many students use the Maxlab Student Cluster to access Stata to do their assignments.

What new technologies are you interested in using either in your teaching or for your personal use?

I am always looking for new technology that can help me better communicate my research findings using graphics. Because I study U.S. states, I get 50 different findings from each study. This is generally too much information to include in tables. I want to become proficient with R and Python, given their strengths in graphics and machine learning algorithms.

Many thanks to Professor Montez for participating in the ICT Newsletter!