Gail E. Potter, PhD

Mathematical Statistician

National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases National Institutes of Health

I am the Deputy Section Chief of the Clinical Trials Research Section of NIAID's Biostatistics Research Branch. Prior to joining NIH, I was a principal biostatistician at the Emmes Company for 5 years and an Assistant Professor of Statistics at California Polytechnic State University for three years. I completed my PhD in statistics at the University of Washington and a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

My research involves development and application of statistical methodology to improve global health. I have provided statistical leadership to more than 20 clinical trials and have developed statistical models for social contact networks to better understand epidemic transmission in a variety of countries and contexts.

I am a returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Guinea, Nepal). My experience in Peace Corps continues to inform my passionate perspective on social justice.

Selected Publications

Gail E. Potter, 2020. Dismantling the Fragility Index: A Demonstration of Statistical Reasoning. Statistics in Medicine.

Gail E. Potter, Nicole Carnegie, Jonathan D. Sugimoto, Aldiouma Diallo, John Chris Victor, Kathleen Neuzil, and M. Elizabeth Halloran, Using social contact data to improve the overall effect estimate of a cluster-randomized influenza vaccination program in Senegal, submitted and under review.

Wendy A. Keitel, Gail E. Potter, David Diemert, Jeffrey Bethony, Hana M. El Sahly, Jessie K. Kennedy, Shital M. Patel, Jordan L. Plieskatt, Walter Jones, Gregory Deye, and Maria Elena Bottazzi, 2019. A phase 1 study of the safety, reactogenicity, and immunogenicity of a Schistosoma mansoni vaccine with or without glucopyranosyl lipid A aqueous formulation (GLA-AF) in healthy adults from a non-endemic area. Vaccine.

Gail E. Potter, Jimmy Wong, Jonathan Sugimoto, Aldiouma Diallo, John C. Victor, Kathleen Neuzil, and M. Elizabeth Halloran, 2019. Networks of face-to-face social contacts in Niakhar, Senegal. PLoS One 14 (8)

Matthew B Laurens, Andrea A Berry, Mark A Travassos, Kathy Strauss, Matthew Adams, Biraj Shrestha, Tao Li, Abraham Eappen, Anita Manoj, Yonas Abebe, Tooba Murshedkar, Anusha Gunasekera, Thomas L Richie, Kirsten E Lyke, Christopher V Plowe, Jessie K Kennedy, Gail E Potter, Gregory A Deye, BKL Sim, Stephen L Hoffman, 2019. Dose dependent infectivity of aseptic, purified, cryopreserved Plasmodium falciparum 7G8 sporozoites in malaria-naive adults. The Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Nele Goeyvaerts, Eva Santermans, Gail Potter, Andrea Torneri, Kim Van Kerckhove, Lander Willem, Marc Aerts, Philippe Beutels and Niel Hens, 2018. Household members do not contact each other at random: implications for infectious disease modelling. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 285 (1893).

Titus H. Divala, Randy G. Mungwira, Patricia M. Mawindo, Osward M. Nyirenda, Maxwell Kanjala, Masiye Ndaferankhande, Lufina E. Tsirizani, Rhoda Masonga, Francis Muwalo, Gail E. Potter, Jessie Kennedy, et al., 2018. Chloroquine as weekly chemoprophylaxis or intermittent treatment to prevent malaria in pregnancy in Malawi: a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 18 (10), 1097-1107.

Jimmy Doi, Gail E. Potter, Jimmy Wong, Irvin Alcaraz, and Peter Chi, Web Application Teaching Tools for Statistics Using R and Shiny, (2016) Technology Innovations in Statistics Education 9 (1).

Gail E. Potter, Timo Smieszek, and Kerstin Sailer, Modeling workplace contact networks: The effects of organizational structure, architecture, and reporting errors on epidemic predictions, (2015) Network Science 3 (3), 298-325.

Gail E. Potter and Niel Hens. A penalized likelihood approach to estimate within-household contact networks from egocentric data, (2013) Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series C (Applied Statistics), 62 (4), p. 629-648.

Gail E. Potter, Mark S. Handcock, Ira M. Longini, Jr., and M. Elizabeth Halloran. Estimating Within-School Contact Networks to Understand Influenza Transmission, (2012) The Annals of Applied Statistics, 6 (1), 1-26.

Gail E. Potter, Mark S. Handcock, Ira M. Longini, Jr., and M. Elizabeth Halloran. Estimating Within-Household Contact Networks from Egocentric Data, (2011) The Annals of Applied Statistics, 5 (3), 1816-1838.

Gail E. Potter and Mark S. Handcock, A Description of Within-Family Resource Exchange Networks in a Malawian Village, (2010) Demographic Research, 23, 117-152

Yang Yang, Jonathan D. Sugimoto, M. Elizabeth Halloran, Nicole E. Basta, Dennis L. Chao, Laura Matrajt, Gail Potter, Eben Kenah, Ira M. Longini, Jr. The Transmissibility and Control of Pandemic Influenza A (H1N1) Virus. Science 30 October 2009: 326 (5953), 729 – 733

Web Applications created with Shiny and R

Maximum Likelihood Estimation. This app illustrates the concept of maximum likelihood estimation through the example of estimating a binomial proportion.

Robustness of ANOVA. This app allows the user to explore robustness of ANOVA to violation of the constant variance assumption and derive a rule of thumb for practitioners of statistics.

Sampling distributions. This app uses simulation to illustrate the concept of sampling distributions. Various population shapes and statistics (min, max, mean, median, quartiles, etc.) can be selected by the user.

These apps are part of the Cal Poly Shiny Series.

Senior Research Projects

Boudewijn Aasman (2015), Simulating the NBA playoffs using Logistic Regression and Random Forests.

Irvin Alcaraz (2015), Web Applications through RStudio's Shiny package. Three apps (links below) were created in this project and are part of the Cal Poly Shiny Series.

Correlation and Regression Game, in which the user guesses the correlation of simulated data, and guesses the intercept and slope of the least squares regression line;

Multiple Regression Visualization, in which various regression surfaces are visualized in three dimensions; and

Probability Distribution Viewer, which displays various probability distributions, p-values, and quantiles.

Kelly Johnson (2015), Using Shiny to Visualize Terrorism Data.

Helen Totterdell (2015), Developing Applets for Science Courses: a Data Science Capstone Project.

Jessica Watson (2015), A Statistical Analysis of Implicit Race Attitudes as Predictors of Vote in the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election.

Henry Bongiovi (2014), Simulating Influenza Transmission with Network Data.

Ciani Sparks (2013), Is Obesity Socially Contagious?


  • Math Camp for Masters of Applied Statistics Students, UCLA, summer 2016

  • Statistical Methods for Engineers, Cal Poly, Spring 2015

  • Statistical Computing with R, Cal Poly, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014

  • Statistics II, Cal Poly, Winter 2014 and Winter 2015

  • Statistical Methods for Life Science Graduate Students, Cal Poly, Fall 2013

  • Probability and Statistics for Engineers and Scientists, Cal Poly, Winter, 2013

  • Statistics for the Life Sciences, Cal Poly, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014

  • Introduction to R for Social Scientists, University of Washington, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

  • Math Camp for Social Scientists, University of Washington, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011

  • Dorothy M. Gilford Teaching Award, University of Washington Statistics Department, 2009

  • NSF-Funded GK-12 Fellowship, University of Washington, 2007-2008

  • U.S. Peace Corps (Guinea, 1997-97; Nepal 1999-2001)