By David Murphy

Introducing KAUST’s very own "THE FANTASTATISTICS 4." Gaurav Agarwal, Jian Cao, Wanfang Chen, and Yuxiao Li are four Ph.D. alumni from the Statistics program at KAUST. The four students obtained their Ph.D.s last year under the supervision of Professor Ying Sun, Agarwal and Li, and Distinguished Professor Marc Genton, Cao and Chen, respectively.

Joining KAUST together in August 2016, the students worked on analyzing and modeling the complex real-world problems that arise in modern statistical data science. Their work focused on using statistics to increase global food production, combat air pollution, increase statistical models’ efficiency, and assess wind energy potential and associated spatio-temporal patterns over Saudi Arabia.

In particular, their research focused on:

  • Agarwal: multivariate quantiles, non-parametric statistics, functional data analysis, and spatial statistics;
  • Cao: scientific computing and high-performance computing;
  • Chen: spatio-temporal statistics, wind energy, and spatial extremes;
  • Li: computational methods for large datasets, deep learning, environmental statistics, spatio-temporal statistics, and stochastic weather generators.

Since leaving KAUST in 2020, Agarwal has gone to work as a postdoctoral research associate investigating the statistical scalability of streaming data at Lancaster University, U.K. Cao is now a postdoctoral fellow at Texas A&M University, U.S. Chen is an assistant professor at East China Normal University, China, while Li is currently working as a research engineer at the multinational technology company Huawei.