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Stacks of ceramic bowls created by students in the ceramics studio.

Ole Forsberg

At Knox Since: 2016

Associate Professor of Mathematics

Forsberg uses statistics to trace real-life issues of fairness and accuracy in political elections.

Ole Forsberg, assistant professor of mathematics

Forsberg holds a bachelor of science degree in mathematics from the University of Portland, a master of teaching degree in secondary education from Johns Hopkins University, a master's degree and Ph.D. in political science from the University of Tennessee, a master of science degree in engineering from Johns Hopkins University, and a Ph.D. in statistics from Oklahoma State University. His teaching interests include statistics and linear models.

How did you first get interested in your academic field?

While growing up, my parents pushed me to excel in mathematics and science. They were successful. As the years passed, however, my interests broadened. My first Ph.D. is in political science, with a dissertation that looked at several correlates of terrorism in nationalist-separatist movements. Doing that dissertation forcefully showed me the importance of statistics in life. I was able to draw conclusions about a complicated phenomenon simply by using statistics. More importantly, I was able to quantify my uncertainty in the results. In 2009, when I was at Johns Hopkins studying statistics, I got caught up in the excitement and intrigue about the Iranian presidential election. Claims of fraud were common, but first-hand evidence of fraud was non-existent. At that point, I turned my interests to analyzing elections with an eye toward detecting unfairness, whether due to fraud or due to something in the electoral system itself.

Why did you choose to teach at a liberal arts college?

My first advanced degree was in education, and I did my student teaching at a small high school located next to a cow pasture in northern Baltimore County, Maryland. From there, I spent the next decade teaching middle and high school students in Portland, Oregon. That desire to educate has always been with me. From a purely selfish point of view, teaching gives me meaning when my research comes up dry.

Describe one of your favorite teaching moments.

This winter break, I had a student work with me analyzing the 2015 Nigerian Presidential election. He started with just the basic knowledge about regression learned in STAT200. It is a great place to start, but there is so much more that needs to be done to understand electoral fraud detection. For that first week, he and I would discuss statistics, regression, and Nigerian politics. Over break, I saw his growth in understanding and in confidence with statistics.

Tell us one unexpected thing about yourself.

I am a fan of anime and manga. I happily own several series and watch even more. I originally got hooked on anime back in the mid-1970s with the original Speed Racer and his car Melange (a mis-translation of Marengo, Napoleon's horse). I got back into it just a decade ago with Inuyasha and D.N.Angel. Since then, Toonami is my Saturday night habit, and the anime selection on Hulu is my habit for the other six days.

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Knox College

Printed on Thursday, April 25, 2024