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Instructor Spotlight: David Kleinbaum

David Kleinbaum developed several courses for, including Survival Analysis, Epidemiologic Statistics, and Designing Valid Statistical Studies.  David retired a little over a year ago from Emory University, where he was a popular and effective teacher with the ability to distill and explain difficult statistical concepts with clarity and concision.  David had a flair for showmanship and humor, and was well known for his collection of loudly colored Hawaiian shirts that he wore while teaching.

Kleinbaum prefers the term “active teaching,” which involves both the teacher’s engagement with students and students’ active participation in learning the course content and materials.

“When I started teaching mandatory biostatistics classes in 1970 at UNC, I realized early on that a lot of kids didn’t want to take a course they perceived as boring, so I kept things relaxed and fun,”

Anticipating the era of online learning, David took the active teaching methods he used in the classroom and translated them to a completely new type of textbook – an integrated and hyperlinked compendium of multimedia elements (examples, briefings, footnotes for more detail, animations, quizzes).  He completed it in 2002, the same year that got started, called it “ActivEpi,” and published it on CD. In 2015 he brought it out as a free web product – ActivEpi Web. Both have been used at, in hundreds of other courses, and by thousands of students.

Emory’ tribute  to Kleinbaum on his retirement noted:

Kleinbaum is internationally recognized for his teaching and has won several of the most prestigious awards offered to public health educators. He won the very first Pfizer/ASPPH National Award for Teaching Excellence in 2005, was named an elected fellow of the American Statistical Association and has won both the Rollins Teacher of the Year Award and the Emory Williams Distinguished Teacher Award, among numerous additional honors.
Though, Kleinbaum notes he received his greatest award a few months ago, when he learned a professor in Uganda—a stranger who is a fan of Kleinbaum’s textbooks—named his son David Kleinbaum Migisha. “It doesn’t get much better than that,” he says.

Kleinbaum is formally retired from Emory, but he is still involved with his courses and has enthusiastically embraced a new project – bringing epidemiology to high schools.  He believes ActivEpi Web is very suitable for teaching epidemiology in high school.