Pursuing Your PhD? There’s a Website for That

Interested in pursuing a PhD in statistics but not sure where to start? StatsPhD.com is a resource dedicated to making graduate study in statistics more broadly accessible by providing panel discussions that help viewers learn about the process of earning a PhD. The site is curated by a group of volunteer PhD students: Sarah Teichman from the University of Washington; Emily Flanagan from the University of California at Berkeley; Dan Kessler from the University of Michigan; and Anna Neufeld from the University of Washington.

We wanted to know more about this resource, so we asked the students, as a group, to answer the following questions.

What is StatsPhD?

StatsPhD is an informal organization composed of volunteer statistics PhD students interested in making graduate study in statistics more broadly accessible. We operate StatsPhD.com and organize publicly accessible events for prospective statistics students.

Who is StatsPhD for?

StatsPhD is for people considering pursuing a PhD in statistics, although we also hope our content is useful to students considering master’s degrees and programs in statistics, biostatistics, or related fields. We especially would like to reach students who do not have mentors at their current institutions or workplaces to help them through the graduate school application process.

Who organizes the events, and how can I get in touch with them?

The idea for our first panel came from a meeting between groups focused on diversity, equality, and inclusion at the University of Michigan and University of California, Berkeley. As part of the planning process, we created the StatsPhD.com website and later connected with a group of students at the University of Washington who were organizing a similar event. Students from all three universities teamed up to organize and run our most recent panel. You can get in touch with the organizers via email.

Who are some past panelists?

At our first event, the University of Michigan panelists were Weijing Tang, Michael Law, and Charlotte Zilber Mann, while we had Amanda Glazer, Drew Nguyen, and Jacob Spertus from UC Berkeley. Dan Kessler of the University of Michigan moderated. This year, our panelists were Charlotte Zilbez Mann and Simon Fontaine from the University of Michigan, Anupreet Porwal and Erin Lipman from the University of Washington, and Austin Zane and Tiffany Tang from UC Berkeley. Alex Asemota from UC Berkeley served as moderator. We also had several students from each of the three universities answering questions in the chat. Recordings of past events are available on the website.

How do you select panelists?

We aim for diversity in experience and background, so we look for students from different departments, domestic and international students, students who started their PhD with or without a master’s degree, and students who went to several types of undergraduate institutions.

What are some of the topics discussed and questions answered?

We generally discuss the graduate school application process, what it is like to be a PhD student, panelists’ experiences transitioning into graduate school, etc. Example questions include the following:

  • If you considered pursuing a PhD in a related field like math or biostatistics, how did you decide on statistics?
  • What factors did you consider when deciding where to apply?
  • Did you have some potential adviser(s) in mind when you were applying? How did you choose an adviser?
  • What has been the most difficult part of pursuing a PhD in statistics?
  • For any current international students, what advice would you offer to prospective international students?

Is there a plan for more?

Yes! We hope to have another panel next fall.

Who can join the presentations, and is there a registration fee?

Anyone can attend the panels and submit questions, and there is no registration fee.

How do you sign up?

Once we start advertising our panel in the fall, there will be a link to sign up for a Zoom webinar at StatsPhD.com.
Want to participate? Contact Teichman and she will add you to a list to reach out to when the group starts planning for next year.