Coffee enthusiast and biochemistry and molecular biology major, Joshua Goldfaden received Honorable Mention for his project, “The Concernment of Coffee: A Statistical Analysis of Coffee’s Chemical Properties.” He was encouraged by mathematics professor Dr. Criselda Pacioles to submit a project from his MATH-303 Biostatistics class he took with her in the fall of 2018.
The competition is called the Undergraduate Statistics Class Project (USCLAP) and is a division of the Undergraduate Statistics Project Competition (USPROC) Student Award. It is sponsored by the Consortium for Advancement of Undergraduate Statistics Education (CAUSE) and the American Statistical Association (ASA). Dr. Pacioles is an active member and currently serves as the president of the Orange County Long Beach chapter of the ASA (OCLBASA).
“I was not aware of this competition until I accidentally came across their website as I was doing some research online about statistics competitions. After reading the rules and requirements of the competition, I got excited because the requirements of the competition are exactly what the students work hard on the whole semester in our MATH-303 (Biostatistics). I thought that this would be a great opportunity to showcase the products of the students’ hard work in my class. I was confident that their projects would do well in the competition, as they were as good, if not even better, than the projects that won in the past years.” – Dr. Criselda Pacioles
Joshua’s project applied statistical methods to analyze the chemistry in coffee to determine the relationship between the flavor and the average pH of different brands of bagged coffee. First, he determined the average pH of various flavors of coffee and then used an ANOVA test to determine statistically significant differences in pH values of the different flavored coffees. He used this data as a foundation for conducting literature research on the different coffee flavors.
“Something that surprised me about my data was that there was only a very weak, positive correlation between the milligrams of caffeine and the pH of the coffee. I was expecting caffeine to have a greater deal of influence on the pH of coffee.” – Joshua Goldfaden
When Joshua agreed to take part in the competition, Dr. Pacioles helped Joshua to revise his project report from her class to meet the requirements of the competition and reviewed his report before submitting it to the competition.
“I was very, very happy and super excited when I got the email that Josh won in the competition. It was such a great feeling that my student won given that it was our first time to participate in this competition. This made me more enthusiastic to invite my current students in MATH-303 to participate for next year. So I will definitely work hard to help my students produce excellent quality project this semester so we can participate, and possible win again in the next cycle of the competition.” – Dr. Criselda Pacioles
“I am extremely proud to have my work published, and this accomplishment is definitely motivation for me to continue conducting research in different facets of the natural sciences!” – Joshua Goldfaden
This is not Joshua’s first research award. In 2018, he was the 1st place recipient of Kevin and Tam Ross Undergraduate Research Prize.
Joshua plans to attend dental school following graduation. He currently has interviews with the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC and the University of Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry.