KAUST STAT Students Launch First ASA Chapter Outside of the U.S.

 By David Murphy

This October, Zhuo Qu, a Ph.D. candidate in statistics, along with several of her fellow Statistics (STAT) Program students, launched the first-ever American Statistical Association (ASA) student chapter outside of the United States. The idea for launching the KAUST chapter came from Qu’s supervisor Marc Genton, chair and distinguished professor of the KAUST STAT Program and head of the Spatio-Temporal Statistics & Data Science research group. The chapter was created with the broad aim of encouraging and providing opportunities to KAUST students interested in statistics to connect with other statisticians from around the world.

Qu, who likes to use statistical methods to interpret data in applications while exploring new statistical models, feels that—although it is harder to get invited speakers to come to Saudi Arabia versus the U.S.—there are several novel benefits to the KAUST ASA student chapter.

 “Our case is kind of special because right now we are the first ASA student chapter which is not based in America. There are some unique benefits for our group; since October alone, we have already held three high-quality panel discussions and have hosted the annual statistics workshop, which happened this November. Thanks to the unique environment at KAUST, the chapter is already beginning to flourish,” she noted.

Qu, whose research areas include functional data, robust statistics, nonparametric statistics, and spatio-temporal statistics, joined the University in 2017, having completed her Bachelor of Economics and Mathematics at the China University of Political Science and Law, Beijing, China. With an eye towards the future, Qu and her fellow group members have several activities and incentives planned for the coming year to connect students with a passion for statistics.

“We plan to organize regular seminars about the hot issues in statistics and data mining every semester,” she noted. “More importantly, we want to unite the students within KAUST who are interested in statistics and connect with passionate statisticians from all over the globe."

“Because we want to enhance the cohesiveness of all statistics students, we would love to share our knowledge of data analysis and statistics with others. The KAUST ASA student chapter would also like to welcome other students interested in statistics and data analysis to join our group and follow the events we will hold every semester. After all, a person who understands data thoroughly understands the world.”