Savannah native Stacy Cobb made history on May 6, 2017, becoming the first African-American to earn a Ph.D. in Statistics at the University of Georgia.
Along the way, Stacy has discovered an expansive capacity for learning, the importance of role models and the crucial role that confidence plays in the formula for academic success.
While at UGA, she studied in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.
Stacy grew up on the city’s eastside, mostly in Thunderbolt. She and her family attended Second African Baptist Church. She was in the choir, served as a junior usher and was on the step praise team. Outside of church, she participated in track and volleyball but mainly played basketball.
While attending H. V. Jenkins High School, Stacy enrolled at Savannah State University through the Joint Enrollment and Pipeline programs.
She graduated from Savannah State University in three years and received a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and a minor in biology in May 2008, graduating Magna Cum Laude.
When asked what drew her interest to the science field, she said “Math has just always been my favorite subject.” She added that the interest of applying it to science wasn’t sparked until she started to attend college.
While pursuing her degree in Mathematics and a minor in Biology, Stacy made the dean’s list, honor roll and was listed in Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities & Colleges. She was also a Hill Hall Scholar and earned scholarships from The Links and Kendell Patterson.
During her time at SSU, Stacy became a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., National Honor Society, Alpha Kappa Mu National Honor Society and was a Peach State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participants (PSLSAMP). The PSLSAMP program is for students majoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
As an undergraduate at Savannah State, Stacy was among one of the first cohorts of STEM programs for minorities.
“Dr. Chellu Chetty and his team really pushed us to stay in the science realm,” said Stacy. She added that she didn’t always have the confidence necessary to succeed in a very challenging discipline.
Though gaps remain, Stacy’s success shows that developing the interest of young women and minorities in science and technology fields results from a combination of effective programs that encourage underrepresented groups in STEM fields, as well as the enduring power of societal cues and role models.
Stacy began her graduate studies at Stony Brook University, in New York, in a bridge-to-doctorate program, she received a master’s degree instead. in 2010. She received a yearlong research assistantship at Harvard in the epidemiology department, where she gained more experience and decided to try to re-enroll in a Ph.D. program. Instead, she enrolled at UGA and was accepted with a full scholarship.
Stacy defended her dissertation in January and has not returned to campus since because she has already started her dream job at Duke Clinical Research Institute in Durham, North Carolina. “I love the type of work that I do. Right now, I’m doing public health research, coordinating with physicians such as cardiologists to answer pertinent health questions that affect communities at a global level,” she said. “It will help save more lives, and my goal is to be a part of some positive change when it comes to public health.”
As a member of one earliest cohorts of a women in STEM initiative, what does she think is the best way to encourage young women and people of color to pursue their interests in science, technology, engineering or mathematics?
Stacy, who was recently home to celebrate the 10th anniversary with her line sisters of them becoming members Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, is the daughter of Andre and Larrice Cobb. She has one son, Ayden, and one brother, DeVon, who will be receiving his engineering degree from SSU on May 13.