[Interview]: Get to know Lazar

trinker

ggplot2orBust
#1
We have the privilege of interviewing Lazar, a talkstats contributor and member since February 2010. Lazar is a PhD, residing in Australia, and has a keen interest in education and statistical methods related to the social sciences. Lazar is an R enthusiast and I believe he is opposed (though not proven) to bots.

So if you've wanted to know something about Lazar, the social sciences or Australia this is your chance.
 

Dason

Ambassador to the humans
#2
What was the first thing that got you interested in statistics?

What areas of statistics are interesting to you but you don't feel like you know very well?

What is your favorite episode of Firefly?
 

Lazar

Phineas Packard
#3
Hi Dason:
1. For my honours year I went to a SEM training course and I fell in love :)

2. Test equating and IRT models BUT I would also like to move into Bayesian SEM

3. Jaynestown followed by Our Mrs. Reynolds
 

Dason

Ambassador to the humans
#4
Hi Dason:
1. For my honours year I went to a SEM training course and I fell in love :)
As somebody who has literally done nothing with SEM - I'm wondering what is it about SEM that you love so much?

3. Jaynestown followed by Our Mrs. Reynolds
What do you like about Jaynestown exactly? (It's a good episode - I just don't put it at the top of my list)
 

Lazar

Phineas Packard
#5
I like SEM for two reasons:
1. I like the flexibility of the method in answering a diverse set of research questions.
2. I am a fan of Judea Perl's work and thus I like the ability to map and test complex causal models.

Why Jaynestown? Well Jayne is my favorite and I like the insight into his softer side in the later half of the episode.
 

vinux

Dark Knight
#7
(1) What is your favourite cricket team? player(s)?
(2) What is the advantage of Mplus over R?
(3) What is Snoopthulhu?
(4) How did you find this forum? What was the motivation to continue in TS?
(5) What are you doing now? How many kids you have?*
 

trinker

ggplot2orBust
#8
Do you eat Vegemite or am I just overgeneralizing?
Are you a native born Australian?
What is your favorite content piece of education to study?
Tell us about your job (what you do, parts you really enjoy, parts you like less).

Have you chose a side in the bot raptor debate and if so what is your epidemiological stance towards bots?
 

TheEcologist

Global Moderator
#10
Hi Lazar!

1) I'll start with a nasty job-interview question; What are your strengths and weaknesses?

2) Your answer to this one will mean everything; How do you feel about ggplot?

In that same light; How do you feel about the pre-packaged "blackbox" type analyses that students (outside of statistics) are taught (SPSS, point and click analyses)?
An improvement? As most students won't /don't want to get it anyway? Or would it be better if we spent some more time teaching students the real nitty gritty details?

3) Where do you see yourself in 10 years? And in 20?

4) Many of us are true workaholics, do you work normal or over hours mostly?

5) Do you think that the statistics are the most important part of any research? Why? Why not?

6) What is the first thing you do when you get your hands on some new data?

7) What got you hooked on TS?
 

Lazar

Phineas Packard
#11
vinux said:
(1) What is your favourite cricket team? player(s)?
(2) What is the advantage of Mplus over R?
(3) What is Snoopthulhu?
(4) How did you find this forum? What was the motivation to continue in TS?
(5) What are you doing now? How many kids you have?*
Hi Vinux,

1. Of course the Aussies. My favorite player is Mike Hussy.
2. At the moment mplus still easily integrates many things that are not easily done in R or WinBUGS (latent multilevel [including latent variables and latent aggregation], growth mixture modelling, exploratory SEM, and BSEM). You can of course do all this is R but it is much more difficult. EDIT: I should not I still use R more than I do mplus.
3. I have been on forums for 8 or more years and have always had a snoopy avatar (I own beagles). I like snoopy pics that reference popular culture like clockwork orange snoopy or in this case Cthulhu snoopy.
4. I found the forum when I needed to find out how to program latent interaction effects. I never got an answer (though I now know how to do it) but stayed on despite that ;)
5. I am a research lecturer at a university in Sydney where I spend my time doing secondary data analysis on multinational and longitudinal samples of young adults. I have no kids only dogs (I have two beagles).
 

Lazar

Phineas Packard
#12
trinker said:
Do you eat Vegemite or am I just overgeneralizing?
Are you a native born Australian?
What is your favorite content piece of education to study?
Tell us about your job (what you do, parts you really enjoy, parts you like less).

Have you chose a side in the bot raptor debate and if so what is your epidemiological stance towards bots?
@TR:

Yes I LOVE Vegemite. When I lived in Germany I had bottles shipped over to me. I am a Vegan so vegiemite is often a meat replacement snack for me.

Yes I am a native born but I have dual Australian/British citizenship

I am a developmental psychologist specialising in emerging adulthood and inparticular the educational factors which predict longterm educational and status attainment (I refer to my area of specialization as Phase Adequate Engagement. That is do young people correctly modify their engagement behaviour in order to make the best choices at key developmental periods like after graduating high school). I love the research part of my job and the fact I only have graduate students. I like doing the stats but not writting up the results. I dislike the constant publishing pressure and I hate having to constantly write grant proposals.

After all Dasons linux help the other day I gotta say bots are not bad. They can take over the world for all I care as long as they keep my stats up and running :)
 

Lazar

Phineas Packard
#13
TheEcologist said:
Hi Lazar!

1) I'll start with a nasty job-interview question; What are your strengths and weaknesses?

2) Your answer to this one will mean everything; How do you feel about ggplot?

In that same light; How do you feel about the pre-packaged "blackbox" type analyses that students (outside of statistics) are taught (SPSS, point and click analyses)?
An improvement? As most students won't /don't want to get it anyway? Or would it be better if we spent some more time teaching students the real nitty gritty details?

3) Where do you see yourself in 10 years? And in 20?

4) Many of us are true workaholics, do you work normal or over hours mostly?

5) Do you think that the statistics are the most important part of any research? Why? Why not?

6) What is the first thing you do when you get your hands on some new data?

7) What got you hooked on TS?

1. Strengths: I pick things up fast I think and I am curious which is the best trait anyone can have. Weaknesses: Well spelling is the major one but also attention to detail :)
2. Used to love it now hate it. Would much rather do everything in base. I have several PhD students and I hate that they use SPSS. The problem is that they do not document their processes correctly. Theyoften end up with very ugly databases where they do not know what they did to them. They also cannot remeber what analyses they did. I have since introduced a Learn R course to which all my students are signed up BUT to which none of them have done any of the courses :(
3. I would like to be at A Prof or Prof in 10 years and would like to be running a research centre in 20.
4. I do a lot of hours outside of work time (mainly reading, reviewing and skill development outside work hours). My wife does not really like it but it is the life of an academic.
5. Yes. The centre in which I work places a massive emphasis on new and evolving methodologies. In addition, because I work with secondary data the stats have to take centre stage. I am trying to move a little into more theory development work but my heart is in the data analysis side of things.
6. Set up my work flow, set up documentation, summary() then I clean.
7. It is a nice balance between interesting questions from regulars and areas in which I can help others. I also think that the atmosphere here is much nicer than other stat help lists etc. I think largely due to the influence of the regulars.
 

spunky

Can't make spagetti
#15
do you ever have the eerie feeling that after you've thrown all these complicated modelling techniques to scores gathered through some sort of survey or psychological test... you might still not getting at anything?

i dunno, we both seem to come from the same tradition but sometimes i worry that after i've been doing all sorts of crazy factor analyses and SEMs, in the end, probably the test was badly designed to begin with and nothing that one comes up with even matters... :/

also... where did you interest with Bayesian statistics began? it's still relatively new among social scientists...
 

Lazar

Phineas Packard
#16
do you ever have the eerie feeling that after you've thrown all these complicated modelling techniques to scores gathered through some sort of survey or psychological test... you might still not getting at anything?

i dunno, we both seem to come from the same tradition but sometimes i worry that after i've been doing all sorts of crazy factor analyses and SEMs, in the end, probably the test was badly designed to begin with and nothing that one comes up with even matters... :/

also... where did you interest with Bayesian statistics began? it's still relatively new among social scientists...

Oddly I think doing secondary data analysis has made me a better psychometrician because I HAVE to know what the data someone else collected can and cannot do. You still have to compromise a lot though and I often have to use less than perfect scales (i.e., one item self-concept scales). I do still have my doubts but where possible I try to have some concrete outcome because I think this provides more confidence. My biggest fear is not in the psychometrics but in the woefully inadequte causal models we end up having to use. Indeed I think psychology has become overly concerned with psychomtrics but has not really been much concerned with causal inference. Sociology is far in front on that score.

As for Bayes, I dont really remember. I can recall getting an interest and then working through Jackman's book but I am not sure where the initial interest came from.
 

Dason

Ambassador to the humans
#17
Would you be willing to post a photo of yourself?

Even more importantly... would you be willing to post a few photos of your beagles? What are their names?

What is your favorite movie?

If you had an all expenses paid vacation to anywhere in the world - where would you go?
 

Lazar

Phineas Packard
#18
Would you be willing to post a photo of yourself?
I will have to find one.

Even more importantly... would you be willing to post a few photos of your beagles? What are their names?
Yes I can do that. Their names are Pandora and Bella. Pandora is a cross with a cocker spaniel

What is your favorite movie?
Serenity is my favorite but I am not really a movie person though I much prefer TV series.

If you had an all expenses paid vacation to anywhere in the world - where would you go?
I would really like to go to Japan or South America.