Ran Xu is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Allied Health Sciences and is interested in using statistics to address various social science problems. After earning his bachelor’s degree in mathematics, Dr. Xu became interested in how math and statistics can be applied to model human behavior and improve public outcomes.He went on to earn his Ph.D. in Measurement and Quantitative Methods from Michigan State University’s College of Education, where he was able to pursue his interests related to education and health. “I think education is important both in terms of health and of all other outcomes, especially for young kids,” says Xu, in response to why he pursued his degree within the College of Education. “I was interested in the human side, and how we can apply all of this math knowledge to model human behavior and prevent for the public good, improving human lives,” he adds. As a doctoral student, he then analyzed social networks, which incorporated how kids learn behaviors from peers and social networks within their school system. As a post-doctoral research associate, his work was within industrial and system engineering, particularly aiming to identify important and interrelated factors that contribute to complex system problems.
Involvement with CSCH
At UConn, Xu is interested in how students develop their identity and health behaviors within the school context, as well as how their education impacts their health and later outcomes. He is interested in the various pathways that can impact children’s health, and the relationships between those pathways. Citing the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) Model, Dr. Xu believes these types of pathways can impact overall student functioning beyond academic achievement, including psychological and physical well-being. “All of these different stakeholders can impact the well-being of children, and I think system dynamics and agent-based models are just great tools so we can make people understand how these factors work together and influence children’s health,” says Xu. This understanding can then help identify strengths and weaknesses within systems, leading to the development of the most effectiveness strategies for addressing existing needs. “Through CSCH, I am really interested in being more involved with the health projects within the school contexts…I am hoping to develop more empirical projects in that area.”
Dr. Xu enjoys playing basketball and tennis. He is always looking for new people to play with.