Student Focus: Wanfang Chen and Yuxiao Li

Wanfang Chen and Yuxiao Li came to KAUST in August 2016 to pursue their Ph.D. studies in the field of statistics.

-By David Murphy, KAUST News

Married couple Wanfang Chen and Yuxiao Li came to KAUST in August 2016 to pursue their Ph.D. studies in the field of statistics. Both students are based in the University's Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Science & Engineering division—Chen under the supervision of Distinguished Professor Marc Genton and Li under the supervision of Professor Ying Sun.

Prior to joining KAUST, both Chen and Li obtained their undergraduate degrees in mathematics at the Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT). Chen completed her master's degree in econometrics at Xiamen University (XMU), China, while Li completed his master's in statistics at the University of California, Irvine (UCI).

Opportunities to learn

Chen and Li were attracted to KAUST because of the University's excellent faculty and advisors, wonderful facilities (both labs and recreational facilities), considerate support for students and the diversity of the KAUST community.

"As students at KAUST, we can focus on our study and research with very supportive help from our advisors as well as our colleagues. We have a lot of opportunities to learn both on the campus and outside the campus at the international workshops and conferences. We also benefit from the amazing community diversity by communicating with and learning from people with various backgrounds," Li said.

"In addition, we are provided wonderful sports facilities in multiple sports centers. My husband and I have been enjoying the social nights for badminton, swimming classes and workout training sessions. We also like the diverse events organized by different communities at KAUST, such as the badminton tournament (we got the runner-up for mixed doubles in the University Badminton Championship 2016), barbecue at South Beach, the Flavors food festival and so on. All of these make a colorful and enthusiastic life for us at KAUST," Chen noted.

Future plans

With the supervision of their advisors, Chen and Li are making promising progress in their research. Both have completed their first academic papers and have submitted the papers to the corresponding journals.

"My husband has just been selected to receive one of the International Biometric Society Eastern North American Region's (ENAR) Distinguished Student Paper Awards for the ENAR 2018 Spring Meeting in Atlanta for his excellent paper entitled Efficient Estimation for Non-stationary Spatial Covariance Functions with Application to Climate Model Downscaling," Chen said.

"Our goal is to find postdoctoral positions and hopefully later find faculty positions in academia," she added.

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