Department of Statistics celebrates hundreds of spring 2024 graduates

On Wednesday, May 8, the Department of Statistics community gathered to celebrate a total of 647 new alumni, including 566 undergraduates and 81 graduate students, across the department’s array of academic programs.

The department’s spring 2024 graduates have successfully completed the following programs:

  • Data Science Major: 334
  • Statistics Major: 59
  • Data Science Certificate: 182
  • Statistics Certificate: 10
  • MS Statistics: Statistics and Data Science option: 51
  • MS Statistics: Biostatistics option: 1
  • MS Statistics: Statistics option: 4
  • MS Data Science: 2 (This is the first-ever graduating cohort of the MS Data Science, a joint professional program between the Departments of Statistics and Computer Sciences.)
  • PhD Statistics: 4

Our new alumni have a wide range of backgrounds and skill sets, as the five vignettes below illustrate.

Susan Glenn, PhD Statistics

Susan Glenn began her PhD in Statistics after serving as a Peace Corps mathematics teacher. Advised by Professor Jun Zhu and Assistant Professor Jessi Cisewski-Kehe, Glenn has been involved in numerous interdisciplinary research projects throughout her time in the program. She said she particularly enjoys the uncertainty and randomness involved in statistics.

“You’re trying to understand the unknowable,” Glenn said. “I think that’s the side of statistics I really love.”

Statistics highlights: Glenn has assisted Cisewski-Kehe on research in the field of astrostatistics, looking for patterns in data to reveal astronomical discoveries. Her research has also delved into Topological Data Analysis (TDA), which pulls methods from topography, allowing researchers to look for patterns in noisy datasets by scrutinizing the shape of the data in space—and looking for holes.

Glenn said Cisewski-Kehe and Zhu were both “amazing advisors,” and she credited several other faculty members with opening her eyes to new statistical techniques, including Associate professor Garvesh Raskutti and Professor Cécile Ané.

Post-graduation plans: Postdoctoral Researcher, Los Alamos National Laboratory (New Mexico)

Claire Knutson, Data Science major

Claire Knutson, like many of her peers in the Data Science major, is graduating from multiple programs. As a Data Science and Economics double major, Knutson has studied the many ways in which technology, data, and business overlap.

Statistics highlights: For Knutson, one of the more memorable courses in her time at UW-Madison was STAT 340 (Data Modeling II) with Brian Powers. “I really enjoyed the class and his teaching style,” Knutson said. “He always worked to make the class interesting and I enjoyed when he would make statistics jokes. I appreciated the sense of lightness and fun it brought to the class.”

Post-graduation plans: Software Engineer at ForeFlight (Austin, TX). “ForeFlight is a flight planning software company, where I previously interned and have been working throughout my Senior year,” Knutson said. “I am passionate about aviation, so I’m excited to apply the skills I have learned at the UW to help solve real problems in the aviation industry.”

Yinuo Chen, Data Science & Statistics double major

Yinuo Chen, and her fellow double majors in statistics and data science, understands not only the coding involved in data analysis, but also the mathematical foundations.

Statistics highlights: While many technical disciplines leave little room for uncertainty, Chen noted that, like Glenn, she liked that the opposite is true in Statistics.

“My experience in Statistics and Data Science experience has taught me to embrace complexity and uncertainty, enabling me to make impactful contributions to real-world challenges,” Chen said.

Post-graduation plans: Applying to Statistics graduate programs

Zekun (Bill) Wang, MS Statistics: Statistics and Data Science Option

On most weekdays during his degree program, you could find Bill Wang working diligently in his favorite spot, tucked away at a high-top table in room 1205 of the Medical Sciences Center. Wang has made the most of his MS program, working with several renowned faculty members and preparing to pursue a PhD.

Statistics highlights: Wang thanked numerous faculty members for their impact on his MS journey. “I am very honored and fortunate to have started my research journey under the guidance of Assistant Professor Joshua Cape and Assistant Professor Vivak Patel,” Wang said. “I also sincerely thank Assistant Professor Yiqiao (Joe) Zhong, Assistant Professor Nicolas Garcia Trillos, Assistant Professor Yinqiu He, and Professor Chunming Zhang, for their wonderful lectures and recommendations to Ph.D. programs in Statistics.”

Post-graduation plans: Pursuing PhD in Applied Mathematics and Statistics at Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD). “The Department of Statistics at UW-Madison has been instrumental in nurturing and equipping me for the upcoming PhD journey,” Wang said.

Grant Zhou, Statistics major

Grant Zhou is graduating with a double major in Statistics and Mathematics, in addition to a Computer Sciences Certificate. As an undergraduate, he was involved with research for the IceCube Neutrino Observatory; he will transition directly into his PhD program next year.

Statistics highlights: Zhou described his work with Cisewski-Kehe in the IceCube Observatory as “unforgettable.”

He explained, “We spent almost two years working on developing new statistical methodologies for the IceCube Neutrino Observatory. [Cisewski-Kehe] is truly patient and inspiring, and she gives me priceless guidance in doing interdisciplinary research, which motivates me to keep working on related topics after graduation.”

Post-graduation plans: Pursuing PhD in Statistics at Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA). “I will focus on inverse problems and spatio-temporal data in physical science,” Zhou said.

Congratulations to all of the newest alumni of the UW-Madison Department of Statistics!

For more information about Department of Statistics degrees, explore our undergraduate programs or graduate programs.