How was your experience in the PhD program in Statistics?
It is hard to put into words what my PhD experience has been. I think a couple of aspects are characteristic of this program at UChicago. First is the rigorous foundational training that you receive during the first year's classes. These were very challenging for me but at the end, they allowed me to link together different aspects of Statistics with the same mathematical and logical rigour, common to all of those classes, both theoretical and applied. Second, the people I met. My PhD was a tremendous opportunity to meet with extremely intelligent people, coming from everywhere in the world, who have either accompanied me or guided me through this tough but invaluable 5-year journey.
Did you feel that the environment in the department was inclusive?
Yes, I thought it was very inclusive.
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 received a lot of support by the Statistics department faculty and staff throughout my whole PhD program. Without the support of my advisor, Professor Peter McCullagh, I just would have never made it to the end. He has been an incredible guide, who surely played a big part in shaping my perspective on statistical problems. In general, in the Statistics Department of UChicago, you are privileged to interact with faculty that are all exceptional minds.
How were your job prospects after graduating, and what are you doing now?
I had decided to go to industry before graduating and I was very fortunate to join right after my graduation, the Statistics team of the R&D division of a big chemical company. Being a statistician in a chemical company is not easy but definitely very stimulating, and what I like the most is observing how Statistics can dramatically help other sciences to advance and find concrete solutions to concrete problems.
Are there aspects of your degree program that have been particularly relevant or useful in your job hunt or current work?
The first year of classes, with the three sequences, has been unbelievably valuable because it builds the rigorous foundations for everything that comes after. Also, the consulting program has been extremely beneficial because it provides first-hand experience of how Statistics can interplay with other sciences, in all of the different aspects that this entails. Especially it taught me how important it is to be able to communicate with other scientists who speak a different “science language”. Only a deep understanding of the initial scientific problem can lead to sensible statistical approaches.
Is there anything else you would like to add for prospective students to know when applying to the program?
Despite some common themes and common episodes, any PhD experience is going to be unique, different from that of everyone else, so one has to shape it with a lot of care and passion and dedication. Absolutely worthy!