Tim Chartier is an applied mathematician with a focus in computer science, a former MAA vice president, and a professor of Mathematics and Computer Science at Davidson College, who frequently works in data analytics with a specialty in sports analytics. He has worked with the NBA, ESPN's Sport Science TV series, NASCAR teams, and fantasy sports sites. He also directs and works with a team of about 70 student researchers to provide analytics to Davidson College sports teams.
What are some of the challenges you have faced in your professional career and how did you overcome them?
During graduate school, I struggled with where I might fit in the mathematical world. I enjoyed research and my work with national labs. I also enjoyed teaching and found meaning in a semester’s journey with students. I also have professional training in mime and puppetry. Throughout graduate school, I was performing nationally and internationally and pondered the path of a professional performing arts career. It was difficult to keep doors open for various paths. Yet, I found my place by simply moving forward and letting doors open and close. My path and place would unfold even though I did not know for some time what journey would be mine.
What are some professional development opportunities that you find helpful and take advantage of?
The MAA plays a vital role in my professional development. MAA MathFest, for instance, is a place where I hear talks that enable me to extend my reach in teaching and research. Each year, I springboard into the fall semester with the inspiring and informative experiences of MAA MathFest. Within my work of sports analytics, a major place of development is attending functions by those in sports. I talk to coaches, reporters, and even fans. I listen for what they see, need, and want quantitatively.
Can you tell me about Cats Stats at Davidson College, how it began, how it evolved, and what kind of experiences does it provide students?
Cats Stats (Davidson’s sports teams are the Wildcats) began in 2013-14 with 3 students. The goal was offering sports analytics to the men’s basketball team, which is a tall order when you think about that being the program for which Steph Curry played during college. In the end, we did offer valuable insights via data to the team. Fast forward and I now direct over 70 students from various majors in Cats Stats. Within the college, Cats Stats works with men's and women's basketball, women's soccer, baseball, football, swimming, and volleyball. Our work expanded beyond the college and we've completed projects for ESPN, the New York Times, the US Olympic Committee and teams in the NBA, NFL, and NASCAR. The students are truly my collaborators. With so many projects, students lead initiatives and manage their team, whether it be supplying analytics to the volleyball coaches or turning play-by-play from a Saturday football game into a report for coaches for their Sunday strategic planning for the coming week.
Read part one of this interview.
Photo Credit: Davidson College