Read what our alumni have to say about their experiences and training while at the Department of Statistics, and their interesting career highlights.

Meet Jason Willwerscheid, PhD'21

Assistant Professor in Mathematics & Computer Science at Providence College

How was your experience in the PhD program in Statistics?

It was great! I loved living in Chicago, and more particularly in Hyde Park: Lake Michigan is magical; the Chicago skyline is mesmerizing; the architecture, food, and art are all world-class. And the program is truly elite. The faculty are without exception true luminaries in their respective fields: you will be inspired and humbled, turn by turn.

Do you think your needs were met within the department in that it accommodated your background and experiences both personally and culturally?

I was rather unusual in that I came to the program with a previous PhD in literature. (And no one held it against me!) But yes, I felt very welcome within the department. And I came to know many students with extremely different backgrounds and priorities; all found niches in which they were able to flourish. The department is small enough to feel very personal, yet large and diverse enough to nurture a wide range of interests and goals.

Did you feel that you had enough support within the department from faculty and staff to assist in any needs you may have had?

I did, and it was clear to me that the department is strongly invested in ensuring that all its PhD students succeed. This is especially remarkable because the program is challenging; no corners have been cut. You will work hard, but you will receive top-tier training in statistical practice.

How were your job prospects after graduating, and what are you doing now?

I had multiple attractive offers in industry and academia. I am now Assistant Professor in the Mathematics and Computer Science department at Providence College in Rhode Island. In a lot of ways Providence feels similar to Hyde Park: proximity to one of the world’s great cities; old industry, bricks, bodies of water. I count myself lucky to have ended up here.

Are there aspects of your degree program that have been particularly relevant or useful in your job hunt or current work?

I owe to the PhD program a statistical frame of mind. There is literally not a day that goes by in my work in which I am not deeply indebted to the training I received at the University of Chicago.

Is there anything else you would like to add for prospective students to know when applying to the program?

If you end up joining the program, do not under any circumstances miss the chance to view Prof. Nicolae’s eclectic collection of elephant figurines, to sample Prof. McCullagh’s outstanding barbequed pork shoulder, or to say hello to Prof. Stephens’s urban-dwelling chickens!