How was your experience in the PhD program in Statistics?
I have spent 5 fantastic years in Chicago. For me it was also the first time living abroad, so my PhD experience is closely intertwined with my personal experience as a foreigner adapting to American culture. What I most vividly remember was the sense of community among PhD students across all years, the long discussions about statistics and beyond, in the office and outside of it. Most of the friendships I have made in those years still last to this day and I have only great memories of my time there.
Did you feel that the environment in the department was 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?
Definitely, my advisor was always available, I used to just knock at his door for a chat, he would always find time to speak with me and help me in my research. Other faculty and staff have been equally supportive whenever I had inquiries about either research or general administrative tasks.
How were your job prospects after graduating, and what are you doing now?
I had a rather unusual job path. When seeking for postdocs, I ended up relocating to King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia for one year, then Newcastle Upon Tyne in the United Kingdom for three years as Lecturer (Assistant Professor in the US academic system), and I am now an Associate Professor at the University of Notre Dame. Most of my choices were dictated by both job opportunities and a two body problem that I am really glad has been solved. Looking back, I find it quite ironic that I have lived in three different continents before relocating an hour drive from where I did my PhD!
Are there aspects of your degree program that have been particularly relevant or useful in your job hunt or current work?
I am a statistics professor, so clearly my training at UChicago has been the cornerstone of my current job. Specifically, the PhD program has taught me statistics at a level of rigor that I try to apply to every single aspect of the work I perform. Even though I am more of a collaborative and interdisciplinary scholar rather than a foundational one, the background from my doctoral years have taught me to carefully formalize problems mathematically, and perhaps most importantly to never give any assumption on the data for granted.
Is there anything else you would like to add for prospective students to know when applying to the program?
The years of graduate school, if done in the right place with the right scholar, will be the most memorable time of your life. You will have the energy, enthusiasm and freedom to explore topics which will open your mind, and you will have the privilege of doing it without the additional professional duties that will inevitably fall on you as you will have more seniority. For me UChicago was the right place, and my advisor was the right scholar. I hope it will be the same for you.