In AMSI scholarship recipient
AMSI scholarship recipient profile: Alex Verhoijsen

Alex Verhoijsen

University of Melbourne

In 2015, Alex Verhoijsen obtained an MSc in Economics at Ghent University in Belgium. Furthermore, in 2019 he obtained an MSc in Statistics at the Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve (Belgium). From 2017 to 2018, Alex Verhoijsen worked as a teaching assistant in econometrics and as a research assistant in public health at Ghent University. In 2020 he started joint PhD in statistics at the University of Melbourne and at the University of Pau and Adour Countries (France). In the PhD research, He looked at fast inference methods for high-dimensional factors copulas, and change-point detection, and their applications in finance and climate science.

Can you give me a quick overview of the type of mathematics you are studying and its potential impacts for the broader community ?

As a PhD candidate in statistics I try to find fast computational methods to find how variables are related via one underlying driving factor. Think for example of the state of the economy that affects stock prices in the stock market. The hard thing is that (i) there are many different stocks, and (ii) not all stocks will be impacted in the same fashion when the underlying economic conditions change. While methods do already exist to tackle these problems, they are often slow and computationally cumbersome. My research focuses on speeding up existing methods to facilitate real-world applications in finance and climate science.

How did you get into mathematics/statistics/data science? Was there someone or something that inspired you to this field?

I did not always want to have a career in maths. However, I always had excellent teachers in mathematics that could make difficult concepts look very easy and were very passionate about teaching.

You received a scholarship to attend AMSI Summer School 2022. How important was this in terms of your ability to attend, fully participate in the program and meet others studying in similar fields?

The AMSI Scholarship was of paramount importance in being able to successfully complete the AMSI Summer School as it provided a means to fully focus on the AMSI Summer School.

The purpose of Summer School is to give students an opportunity to develop their mathematical skills, meet like-minded people and network with potential employers. What was the most valuable part of the program for you? Was it the course content or the people you met? Do you have new ideas for your work/research or see it in a new light?

I very much liked the course content and also met some very interesting people. Moreover, the AMSI Summer School has broadened my knowledge outside the field of statistics, thus giving a new perspective to topics I already knew and giving me new ideas of which direction I want to go in with my research.

Summer School included a special Careers Day program which aims to help give students an idea of the kinds of career paths available to maths graduates in industry and private sector research areas. Were you previously aware of the types of industry opportunities available to mathematical science graduates? Would you consider working with industry? Do you feel better equipped to explore career options in the mathematical sciences after attending AMSI Summer School?

My primary career goal is to stay in academia. However, doing research-related work in industry and the private sector also remains an option. In this regard, the Careers Day helped in providing a good overview of the different opportunities for mathematics graduates.

AMSI Summer School was held as a virtual event. What was the biggest positive from your point of view holding it in this format and/or the biggest challenge?

The organising team of the AMSI Summer School did an excellent job of making the virtual format an enjoyable experience. However, I think nothing can replace the face-to-face mode of teaching and networking (but this is of course outside of AMSI’s control).

What advice would you give to someone who is considering applying for Summer School in 2023? Should they apply and why?

Students that are considering to apply to the AMSI Summer School should carefully assess which course they want to take up. Moreover, future applicants should not only consider the academic activities of the AMSI Summer School, but also realize that it offers the opportunity to network with other students at the summer school.

Where do you want the mathematical sciences to take you? Where do you see yourself in five, ten years time In a research-related role, either in academia or in the private sector.

In a research-related role, either in academia or in the private sector.

Any other comments you would like to provide ?

I would definitely recommend AMSI Summer School to any student who is still in doubt!