Meet Mengyu Xu, PhD’16

How was your experience in the PhD program in Statistics?

It was fortunate for me to study in the statistics department at UChicago. The course work and research experience provided us with rigorous training in a wide range of topics in theoretical and applied statistics. Everyone in the department was friendly and supportive. We also had the opportunity to participate in consulting projects and to teach as an instructor during the PhD study. The training at UChicago helped us to build solid mathematical and statistical foundation, critical thinking habit and collaboration skills. I also had a lot of fun in the department, where we could discuss and work together with our peers in the lab, prepare weekly teatime, and enjoy the department barbeque at the lake shore. It was an incredible experience.

Did you feel that the environment in the department was inclusive?

Yes. I feel the environment was very diverse, inclusive and friendly. The department really cares about each student.

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. The professors were very supportive in answering my questions, guiding me to explore the study interests, advising the research, and providing helpful feedbacks. The staff members were also happy to assist in the needs that I have had.

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

I decided to look for a job in academia before graduating. My advisor, Prof. Wei Biao Wu, provided a lot of suggestions and help when I looked for a job, and he has been supportive throughout my career. I am an assistant professor at the University of Central Florida, and I collaborate with researchers in various fields such as engineering, public health and education.

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

The study in the program helped us to develop solid statistical foundation. Since entering the program, we received intensive training to read papers with an emphasis on critical thinking skills, which is pivotal in research work. The rigorous training also helps me to build statistical thinking, and to construct and use the proper statistical methods on datasets with specific features.

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

I would suggest the students to visit the department. It feels to me that the environment in the department is supportive and warm. Also Chicago is a beautiful city with plenty of resources and opportunities. The study in the department is challenging and requires a lot of effort, and it is worthwhile.