Roger Palmenberg is a second-year student at the University of Arizona studying statistics and data science in the Department of Mathematics, but that is just the beginning of his interests. A professional athlete, and musician and an environmental advocate, Palmenberg talks about how everyone — regardless of their field of study or hobbies — can care for the Earth.
What is your year and major? Why did you choose this program of study?
I am a second-year student here at the University of Arizona, studying statistics and data science. I chose this major because I'm interested in the rapid increase of digital data and its role in today's society. Did you know a user would need approximately 200 million years to download all data from the internet? Additionally, about 80% of all data is unstructured, meaning someone is needed to transform data into a desired format that humans can process. I am very interested in the combination of statistics with data science and how they can be used to make beneficial predictions for society. I also strongly believe in truthful representations of data and data privacy, which are two notorious issues in today’s world.
What are you interested in doing with your future career?
Given the fact that data is exponentially growing, I aspire to be a professional who knows how to deal with data efficiently and effectively, such as a data engineer or data scientist. Data engineers generate, maintain and enhance large sets of information to ensure it is formatted correctly for the desired consumer. This requires a particular process and certain skill set, as it entails many responsibilities and little room for error. I enjoy structured, procedural work that makes a difference in the world, which is why this career would suit me. Data scientists use this altered data to understand applicable situations and make predictions to positively impact the future of the discipline they are working in. I have yet to decide what discipline I want to pursue with a data science degree, but I am exploring many different areas of study during my time here at the University of Arizona.
How have you been involved in the environment both on and off campus?
I was born and raised in Tucson and couldn’t see myself living anywhere else for college. I love Tucson’s desert trails, hiking paths, breathtaking mountains, magnificent sunsets and beautiful weather. On campus, I enjoy engaging with the environment around me by studying outside and obeying the regulations set in place to protect surrounding ecosystems. I believe in environmental preservation and often bring this topic to the attention of friends and family, bringing awareness to the importance of protecting our world.
Additionally, I am a student employee for the Arizona Institute for Resilience, which is a group that actively works on solutions for the environment and society. Specifically, my research team develops technological innovations to benefit the environment, such as weather sensors, forecast data analysis, fire-weather predictions, and more.
At home, I live on a ranch with my family where we have rescued llamas, alpacas, goats, chickens, pigeons, turkeys, ducks, and additional livestock animals. My family and I work outside daily to ensure our pets live a good life and facilitate a positive relationship with the environment around our ranch. I take pride in giving my time to improve the environment by participating in trash clean-ups on community streets, washes, and trails.
What other programs are you involved in?
One activity that I am heavily involved in is jump rope. I am a professional and competitive athlete who has had opportunities to travel the world for various competitions, workshops, and performances. In Tucson, I am a head coach for the Tucson Twist-Its Jump Rope Team, which is a youth centric performance team that facilitates a healthy lifestyle by providing members with fun ways to stay fit and social.
I also volunteer with many committees under the American Jump Rope Federation, such as competition planning, technological advancements, and an athlete council. I hope to be the founder of a jump rope club here at the University of Arizona in the future. Aside from school and jump rope, I enjoy playing video games and board games with friends and family. Furthermore, I take pleasure in the musical arts and play the trombone for a symphonic band on campus.
Why do you think science is relevant in decision making?
I believe that science is vital in any decision making process. Science-based conclusions are backed up with evidence from many trials that stem from a deep consideration of hypotheses. Conjointly, bias is typically absent from scientific reasoning, as the methods involved are based on problem-solving skills. Decision making should consider the procedure of scientific reasoning, as the two paired together form very positive results.
Why do you think students should care about the environment, even if it isn't their major or area of study?
Caring about the environment should not be a controversial topic. No matter what area of study a student is pursuing or what beliefs a student may have, humans undoubtedly need safe water, food, and air to live. The Earth is irreplaceable; if we don’t take care of the environment, we will follow it in its downfall! There is no other place that humans are aware of that can accommodate our needs, and we should therefore care about the environment around us. We are lucky to live on such a beautiful planet!