In AMSI scholarship recipient
AMSI scholarship recipient profile: Yicen Li

Yicen Li

University of Queensland

Yicen Li obtained my bachelor of science degree at Beijing Jiaotong University, majoring in Optoelectronic information science and Engineering. His undergraduate thesis is related to 2D THz-QCL resonator simulation by COMSOL and awarded school excellence. The Engineering and Physics background gives him an edge in modeling and mathematical applications. The undergraduate work-study and internship programs also taught him the increasing data processing demands of the industry today.  He enjoys dealing with large amounts of data of interest and analyzing complex datasets by statistical methods to conclude valuable conclusions which is incredible for him. For this reason, He is deeply attracted by such approaches of exploring order from disorder and simplicity from complexity. Thus, he is pursuing a master of science in statistics at the University of Queensland to broaden his knowledge. Currently, He is taking the graduate thesis which focuses on model-based clustering and finite mixture models. And would like to pursue a PhD in the relevant field after graduation, which he believes will be of tremendous value for his development in statistics career and life.

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

I am studying model-based clustering methods. In this way, we can collect data with the same or similar features into a group, so as to highlight these features and attributes. A simple example is the processing of height data for students. Without knowing the gender, we currently know that a student’s height is 190cm, then according to these methods, the student is more likely to be clustered as male. After clustering, we can make further analysis on these features, so clustering is also regarded as an important step in data mining.

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

This is a big-data era. Not matter research or working both highly rely on data analysis. Industries need to process clients’ data to enhance their experience. At the same time, researchers conclude conclusions via studying from data of interest. I take the view that it is promising to be able to handle and play around with data. Thus, I got into statistics.

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?

For me, the scholarship is a great affirmation and encouragement to my study and passion for statistics. This makes me understand that people from different academic backgrounds have the opportunity to participate in summer school, work hard to learn new knowledge, play and contribute their strengths in the future, and finally gain the respect and recognition of the community. I will be more motivated to research and study in the future.

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 think meeting like-minded people is very important. This made me realize that in the same field, there are actually many people who are working hard to study, overcome difficulties, and update existing methods to achieve higher goals. Especially Dr. Matias and Tom, I was impressed with their passion for teaching, attitude towards knowledge sharing, and understanding of Bayesian methods. They taught me that research can be lonely at times, but never helpless.

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?

After attending the Careers Day, I did realize that there were many job opportunities for mathematics students. I would be working in the industry in the future because I think statisticians develop, implement and apply statistical methods for real-world purposes. The Careers day made me understand that mathematics students should not only have professional knowledge but also have good communication skills to be able to let people from other backgrounds understand the methods you use and be convinced of your conclusion so that they will also start to use these methods to work or research more efficiently in the future.

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?

I think the biggest benefit is that this format is more effective and more accessible. Students from all over the world (especially those who could not come to Australia at that stage) can participate, and it is more convenient to invite professors to give lectures. The biggest challenge is that interactivity may become weaker, and not being able to communicate face-to-face means there is not enough immersion for learning.

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

Be sure to attend, you will enrich your knowledge, meet lots of passionate people, and give you a deeper understanding of your area of interest. My only suggestion is to plan your time properly so that you can use the summer vacation to interact and study more effectively.

Where do you want the mathematical sciences to take you? Where do you see yourself in five, ten years time?

That is, I have completed my Ph.D. and entered the industry, using what I have learned to work on solving complex real-world problems and benefiting more people. I will let more people learn to use statistical methods to address their difficulties.

Any other comments you would like to provide ?

I am grateful for providing me AMSI Scholarship to attend such a high-quality summer school, which gave me a very unforgettable experience and strengthened my motivation for Ph.D. in statistics. I wish AMSI all the best in the future.