Meet Kushal K. Dey, PhD’18

How was your experience in the PhD program in Statistics?

My time as a graduate student in the PhD program in Statistics at the University of Chicago was very enjoyable. I was introduced to the topic of statistical genetics and genomics during my PhD in Matthew Stephens' lab, which laid the groundwork for my current research career. I also made many new friends during my time in the program, many of whom I continue to stay in touch.

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

Yes. I felt the environment in the program was extremely inclusive. The consulting projects and the various Physical Sciences Division activities round the year greatly fostered cultural exchanges among the students.

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

Yes. All the faculty I had the opportunity to interact with were extremely supportive. I will specifically mention Mei Wang and Linda Collins for their guidance related to teaching.

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

I received several offers for a postdoctoral position after my graduation, as well as a job offer for a data scientist position in Google. Eventually, I accepted a postdoc researcher position in Alkes Price lab at Harvard School of Public Health. Currently, I am an Assistant Professor in the Computational and Systems Biology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, with a secondary appointment in Weill Cornell Medicine.

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

Both during my postdoc and faculty job hunts, my PhD work on topic models with Matthew Stephens played a major role, as that work is recognized by many in the field. I also learnt several new skills during my PhD – from coding, data management, cluster computing – that are integral to my current research work as a PI and for running a lab. Also, my PhD training helped me develop a statistical intuition which has been instrumental in shaping my research directions.

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

The University of Chicago Statistics program, through its course structure, projects, and guidance, provides a strong foundation in both theoretical and applied statistics. I would highly recommend this program to all prospective students.