KAUST Prospective Student: Damilya Saduakhas

-By Taruna Rapaka

Damilya Saduakhas, 21 years old, from Kazakhstan, obtained a B.Sc. degree in mathematics from the Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan. Damilya has been selected as a young scientist to participate in the summer Data Lab from Yessenov Foundation and will join KAUST in the fall of 2020 as an M.S./Ph.D. candidate in the KAUST Stochastic Processes and Applied Statistics Research group under the supervision of Professor David Bolin.

In leisure, Damilya loves to study and do yoga. She enjoys hiking and traveling, and any active sport in general. She is enthusiastic about analyzing art, history, and philosophy books, and loves teaching maths to junior students. She loves to dig into exceptional subjects and connect the threads to make the bigger picture emerge. For instance, she has an in-depth knowledge of biohacking, considering she is a massive fan of PubMed. 

What was your main subject during your undergraduate degree? Why did you choose it?

My major was Mathematics, and I took more Statistics courses in later years since I decided to specialize in this field. Already at primary school, I realized that numbers are ruling the world, and I tried to prove it with a project on imaginary numbers. Later, I participated in various regional Olympiads and became even more passionate. I believe mathematics is the foundation for many natural sciences, so I chose the statistics as further specialization. Through the development of mathematical theory, we can simulate and solve real-world problems.

Why have you chosen to do an M.S./Ph.D. at KAUST?

When making a final decision to pursue a degree, I had several options from top world universities. I chose KAUST for several reasons: top students and professors, researchers, were among the prime motivations for me. The University is also a place where many passionate people explore science and push further the horizon of our scientific understanding. It has a unique atmosphere where all conditions promote scientific progress. 

When did your interest in Statistics arise? What are your research interests?

Before my senior year, I tried to explore all the possible fields of further development. I even tried robotics and participated in one of the Riga Summer School where I created an auto-leveling quadruped. But what really caught my attention was the way time-series can model real-time processes. This is why I decided to dig deeper into this field and learn more about machine learning. At this very moment, for example, I am studying deep learning and Natural Language Processing and its applications. Next in line will be stochastic processes.

What is your future outlook?

In the coming years, I plan to broaden my knowledge in applied statistics and possibly have a go with biostatistics.

Can you give a piece of advice to students who plan to pursue a Master’s/Ph.D. at KAUST?

The primary advice would be to focus on a goal and try to stay dedicated. The second is to make good use of all the given opportunities. Any miss is lost forever.