Gardner: The Iowa student who started

From Hayes Gardner at the Ames Tribune on October 9, 2019, on SABR member Sean Forman:

Sean Forman was intensely studying one of the great unsolved problems in biology. An applied mathematics doctoral student at the University of Iowa in the late 1990s, Forman’s thesis centered on trying to predict the three-dimensional folding pattern of a string of amino acids, which form a protein.

It was a daunting and impressive project and one that his advisor, Professor Alberto Segre, was more than pleased with. At times, though, Segre was not elated with the pace that Forman worked — his degree took about 18 months longer to earn that it probably should’ve.

That’s because Forman had a side hobby.

“The work, to be frank, didn’t always progress as quickly as I would’ve liked it to because he was off coding stats in his basement,” Segre told the Ames Tribune.

Forman, a former Iowa State graduate student who dropped out to pursue a separate Ph.D. at Iowa, spent chunks of time on a project that had nothing to do with protein structures and amino acids: the online organization of baseball statistics.

He’d spend his nights and weekends enshrouded with baseball statistics and working for various outlets, using stats to predict how well a baseball prospect might play the following year. That hobby eventually grew into a user-friendly website for baseball data that he started in 1999.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: October 10, 2019. Last Updated: October 10, 2019.