KAUST STAT students come together for second ASA chapter meeting

By David Murphy

Members of the KAUST American Statistical Association (ASA) student chapter recently came together for the group’s second online meeting held on Tuesday, November 10, 2020. The meeting served as an orientation exercise for new KAUST Statistics (STAT) Program students while also highlighting the shared experience of STAT Ph.D. candidates: Jian Cao, Wanfang Chen, Yuxiao Li, and Gaurav Agarwal.

The KAUST ASA student chapter—which was launched by KAUST Ph.D. student Zhuo Qu, along with several of her STAT colleagues in October 2019—is the first ASA student chapter established outside of the United States. Meeting once monthly, the group encourages and provides opportunities for KAUST students interested in statistics to connect with other statisticians from around the world. The group also organizes regular seminars on the latest trends and topics in statistics and data science.

During their most recent meeting, Agarwal, Cao, Chen, and Li covered subjects such as determining research interests and practical advice to junior students before fielding a Q&A session from participants.

“They discussed their specific approaches to completing projects; their research paper submission/acceptance rate; and shared many tips for creating a good research-life balance,” Qu said.

“Jian and Gaurav talked about the challenges of living at KAUST and how to enjoy life here. Yuxiao discussed employment opportunities after graduation and the skills students should explore and develop. Wanfang shared her experience of balancing her everyday life between her research work and becoming a new mom.

“We are glad that our candidates not only described the awards they received, but they also shared the rejections and frustrations they encountered in the first two years of their degree. To know that Jian, Wanfang, Yuxiao, and Gaurav felt the same frustrations as other chapter members helps us to learn and motivates us moving forward,” she added.

Future chapter direction

The KAUST ASA student chapter has several activities and incentives planned for the coming year, including hosting a seminar featuring KAUST alumni on how to succeed in the job market, post-KAUST.

Professor Hernando Ombao, our STAT program chair, gave me some advice regarding possible chapter topics next year. In 2021, we hope to invite some young faculty members, data scientists, and engineers to share their experiences on the differences between the domains of campus and work, industry and academia,” Qu said.

“The KAUST ASA chapter is not only for current statistics students; we also want to keep in touch with our alumni members. Although this year we did not have much contact with professors and data scientists outside of KAUST, we sincerely hope to reverse this scenario in the coming year,” she concluded.

To join the KAUST ASA student chapter, please click here.