Faculty Spotlight - Dr. Tracey Hammel

Dr. Tracey Hammel


Online Courses
Areas of Interest

My research interests are mixture models and nonparametric methods. What I enjoy most about teaching statistics is experiencing how much the appreciation of the subject grows for students when they connect statistics to their work or daily lives.


I received my Bachelor's and Master's degree in Statistics from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo Michigan. I am originally from Detroit, MI and currently live in Allentown, PA.

I received my PhD in Statistics from Penn State in December 2010. I have worked for Penn State since 2004 and taught many different courses both on-campus and for World Campus. I thoroughly enjoy teaching and am willing to help students in any way that I can.

When I am not teaching, I am mostly a home-body. I enjoy walking, swimming, reading, crocheting, learning, watching movies, playing outside, and spending as much time as I can with my family. I have three young sons. They are so much fun and keep me very busy.

How did you get started with teaching online for Penn State?

As I was finishing up my PhD, a family member fell ill. I was offered the opportunity to teach online so I could travel. I loved teaching online from the very first semester. After the birth of my first child, I decided to stick with teaching online so that I could be at home to raise my children.

What do you like best about teaching online?

I like the diversity of the students. Many online students are working full time in various fields and offer a great deal of experience and interesting applications to the class. I also like the flexibility of being online.

How do you engage online students with statistics?

I find the best way to engage students with statistics is through real-world and interesting examples.

Making a presence is essential for instructors. Students need to know their instructors are there. Video chats, such as Zoom, are great ways to connect with students. I try to respond to questions quickly.

What is your best advice to students in order to be successful in an online statistics course?

Students taking online courses need to be self-disciplined. It helps to set aside specific times each week that are designated to the course.

Students should actively go through the notes, as if they were in class. For example, if the notes walk through an example using software, try it yourself to see if you get the same results. If there are mathematical steps in an example, go through the steps with a pen and paper.