Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Department of Mathematics and Statistics
Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Wesley Burr

Wesley Burr

Ph.D. 2012
Assistant Prof.
Trent University
Ontario, Canada

The Queen's Mathematics & Statistics department is smaller than in some other places, but has tremendous breadth of skill and knowledge. I never found any of the professors to be less than approachable, and the smaller cohort sizes mean you know essentially everyone in the graduate program within a few months of arriving at Queen's. In addition, Kingston is a small but beautiful city, easily explored, with a spectacular summer season helping make up for the typically dreary Ontario winter.

I completed my dissertation in statistics in fall of 2012, after some roundabout travels through different disciplines: an undergraduate degree in engineering, a Masters in mathematics, and finally, statistics. Even my statistics doctorate was not without some changes: my proposal, defended in early 2008, bears no resemblance whatsoever to the final dissertation of 2012. Despite these changes and switches as I explored the options available to me, the department and my supervisor were never anything less than supportive and helpful. 

Support was provided by other, non-supervising faculty, and several relationships were formed which I retain and value to this day: in fact, a colleague at Queen's and I have just offered admission to several new Masters students for Fall 2017.
- Wesley Burr

My doctoral supervisor was incredibly generous with his time and resources, offering me numerous travel opportunities (at least 8 conferences across Masters and PhD, three of which were international) and funding for my entire period of study. Being given support to explore new areas of statistics, and to eventually settle on a topic for dissertation outside of his research focus was also valuable and appreciated. Support was also provided by other, non-supervising faculty, and several relationships were formed which I retain and value to this day: in fact, a colleague at Queen's and I have just offered admission to several new Masters students for Fall 2017.

After completing my PhD in 2012, I spent a little over two years at the Health Canada agency in the Environmental Health Research and Safety Bureau as a visiting (statistical research) fellow. I then accepted a position at Trent University, a small liberal arts college in Ontario, where I am now an assistant professor. I remember all of my time at Queen's with fondness, and highly recommend the environment there to anyone interested in graduate studies in mathematics or statistics.

Cesar Aguilar

Cesar Aguilar

Ph.D. 2010
Assistant Prof.
State University of New York
Geneseo, USA

I did my undergraduate and PhD (2010) in the Mathematics & Statistics department at Queen's.  Since graduating, I've come to appreciate more and more the value of a Queen's graduate degree, and in particular, the "pedigree" that a Queen's degree comes with.  The faculty are leaders in their field and are at the front of the wave of their respective research fields.  The faculty has leaders in number theory, control theory, analysis, algebra, and statistics, and this starting point is a great advantage as young researcher in academia or industry.  The proof of this is in the impressive trajectories of graduate students that have graduated in the last 20 years or so.  

The department offers a solid core of courses in algebra, analysis, probability, statistics, and geometry, and the faculty make a concerted effort to offer special topics courses and seminars.
- Cesar Agular

The department offers a solid core of courses in algebra, analysis, probability, statistics, and geometry, and the faculty make a concerted effort to offer special topics courses and seminars.  Also, the colloquium consistently hosts talks from world-renown researchers and establishes a nice academic and social environment.

I lived in Kingston for 9 years and had the chance to experience the city as an undergraduate living in the "student bubble" and then as a graduate student where I had a closer connection to the city itself.  Kingston is a great place to live and is very beautiful in the summer.  The downtown is very lively and has great restaurants and pubs.

Yangfan Zhong

Yangfan Zhong

Ph.D. 2008
VP, Senior Quantitative Finance Analyst
Bank of America Merrill Lynch

As an international student, I would say that Queen's University is very generous and supportive.
- Yangfan Zhong

My six years of study at Queen's were one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of my life. The program's coursework and academic training provided me with solid foundations in probability theory and stochastic processes, analysis, and statistical learning, in addition to my main area of research. The professors in the department were enthusiastic and dedicated. In particular, I benefited tremendously from the guidance I received from my supervisors. Influenced by them, I developed a detail-oriented and mathematically rigorous approach to research as well as thinking and analytical skills that have to date played a decisive role in my career and will continue to benefit me in the future. I also greatly appreciated the collaborative environment provided by the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. During my graduate studies, I was offered many opportunities to attend eminent international conferences to share research ideas, and I was able to collaborate on research papers with other professors and colleagues. As an international student, I would say that Queen's University is very generous and supportive. I am currently working as a quantitative analyst in the Financial Industry. The academic training and skills I received from Queen's have proved to constitute my most valuable assets.

Akiko Manada

Akiko Manada

Ph.D. 2009
Assistant Prof.
The Univ. of Electro-Communications
Japan

Everyone in the department was so enthusiastic in learning, and encouraged each other for completing their degree.
- Akiko Manada

I really enjoyed the study at Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Queen’s. Everyone in the department was so enthusiastic in learning, and encouraged each other for completing their degree. In particular, a weekly seminar organized by students was a good opportunity to share the knowledge in different areas. I also have to emphasize that professors were also great in teaching and supervising. I believe that I could finish my degree thanks to their kind and warm help.

Hector Pasten

Hector Pasten

Ph.D. 2014
Benjamin Peirce Fellow
Harvard University

My experience at Queen's as a PhD student was excellent in every aspect.

First of all, Kingston is peaceful, friendly and fun place with easy access to beautiful landscapes and wildlife. I very much enjoyed the lake, the trees, the birds and the squirrels. It was very easy for me to adapt to my new life when I first arrived, and even after graduation I have visited the town again just for the joy of walking through its streets and parks.

It was very easy for me to adapt to my new life when I first arrived, and even after graduation I have visited (Kingston) again just for the joy of walking through its streets and parks.
- Hector Pasten

As far as math is concerned, I feel well prepared with my degree at Queen's. My field was number theory and we had a weekly seminar on this subject, covering various topics and providing a friendly environment for students to present their work. I was an enthusiastic student and every time I wanted to run an informal seminar with my fellow students, I was given all the help and resources needed, such as booking a lecture room. Access to bibliographic resources is also great: a good library, journal subscriptions, databases, etc. I was also encouraged to go to conferences to learn about recent developments and to present my own work.

I feel lucky and grateful for my time there. I left the town with more friends, with beautiful memories, and knowing more math than before.

Michael Brannon

Michael Brannan

Ph.D. 2012
Assistant Prof.
Texas A&M Univ.

I look back with great fondness at my time as a graduate student in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Queen's University.

On the academic side: I really think there is something very nice about doing a Ph.D. in a small to mid-sized department. At Queen's the result of this was a very closely knit community of graduate students and faculty members. For me, this resulted in beneficial interactions with department members from a variety of fields of mathematics (control, communications, algebra, geometry, analysis,...). Without a doubt, these interactions shaped who I am as a mathematician today.

The math department at Queen's has many internationally well-regarded faculty members who are experienced in graduate supervision.
- Michael Brannon

Another nice feature of the department's size was the weekly colloquium. This event was always well-attended, and provided a relaxed and informal atmosphere for grad students and faculty to learn about what is going on outside their own immediate mathematical world. Having worked in a few large math departments since being at Queen's, I have come to realize that these sorts of regular events don't exist everywhere. Sometimes, the larger the department, the less likely people are to interact!

My experiences being supervised by Queen's faculty was also very positive. The math department at Queen's has many internationally well-regarded faculty members who are experienced in graduate supervision. My situation was no exception: my supervisors gave me plenty of guidance and support, but also allowed me the freedom to develop my own mathematical taste and intuition.

In the last two years of my doctoral program, I was given the opportunity to serve as the instructor of record for two undergraduate courses. Having the freedom and responsibility associated with such a opportunity was an invaluable part of my training. The Department of Math & Stats also has an excellent teaching mentorship program for graduate students, which provides one on one guidance from a faculty member who helps them prepare for the time when they become instructors themselves. I found this to be very beneficial.

Living in Kingston: Kingston is truly a wonderful place to spend your years as a grad student. The Queen's campus is very picturesque, and the lively Kingston city center is within an easy walk. In fact, in Kingston, one can easily get along without a car at all (something that is not so common in North American college towns).

Jonathan Novak

Jonathan Novak

Ph.D. 2009
Assistant Prof.
Univ. of California
San Diego, California

In Fall 2004 I moved to Kingston to start an M.Sc. at Queen’s. In my first year as a Masters student, I took the standard graduate core courses in algebra and analysis, and found them very helpful in solidifying and extending the base of mathematical knowledge I had acquired as an undergraduate. At the same time, I met frequently with my advisor and attended the weekly seminar on probabilistic operator algebras. Attending the seminar helped to give me an idea of what the current research trends were in functional analysis; it was also enormously useful to see firsthand and how research-level mathematics is communicated. I was encouraged to present results from papers I was reading in the seminar, and this proved to be a very effective mechanism for accruing enough background knowledge to get started on my own research. After completing my masters, I decided to stay on at Queen’s and work towards a Ph.D. While it might have been possible to move to a larger graduate program to pursue my doctorate, I felt that the level of individual attention I was getting from my supervisor at Queen’s was unlikely to be matched elsewhere. By this time I had developed a good rapport with my advisor, and he gave me substantial leeway in finding my own dissertation topic while simultaneously ensuring that I was not straying towards problems that were either impossibly difficult or unlikely to be of sufficient depth and interest. I believe that this hands-off approach was very important in my development as a researcher, and greatly helped me to hone my own sense of what is interesting and important; this is perhaps the most important skill in research, and without it technical proficiency is useless.

I was given many opportunities to attend national and even international research conferences, and in this way I was exposed to the work of the leading figures in my research area.
- Jonathan Novak

I ultimately settled on a dissertation topic which overlapped somewhat with the core interests of the professors in the functional analysis group, but was not directly linked to their own research. However, far from this being a problem, the group was very supportive and showed great interest in learning more about the topic I had selected, frequently giving me opportunities to talk about the early stages of my thesis writing in the weekly seminar. This process resulted in a large amount of feedback which was very useful in zeroing in on the exact set of questions I wanted to address in my dissertation, and at every stage of thesis writing I felt that I had senior people around me who were more than superficially interested in my work. In short, it was the perfect balance of individual self-guided effort tempered by experience.

In addition to being very generous with his time, my Ph.D. supervisor, and more generally the entire math department, was very generous with resources. I was given many opportunities to attend national and even international research conferences, and in this way I was exposed to the work of the leading figures in my research area, and given the opportunity to connect with the broader research community. This greatly helped me to build my research profile and acquire a necessary baseline visibility for securing a postdoctoral position, and I am enormously grateful to the mathematics department for their support and generosity.

After completing my Ph.D. at the end of 2009, I held short-term postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Waterloo and the MSRI in Berkeley, and then moved on to a four-year instructorship at MIT. Following this, I became an assistant professor at the University of California in 2015. Now, as a professional mathematician with my own career underway, I remain in contact with my Ph.D. supervisor and many other faculty members at Queen’s, and return for regular visits. Several of the researchers I met while a graduate student at Queen’s are today my closest collaborators. Indisputably, my involvement with the Queen's math department shaped my development as a researcher, and continues to do so today.