ASA Student Chapter at UC San Diego

Information regarding UC San Diego's First ASA Student Chapter


2020 Activities

Members of the ASA Student Chapter attended Career Day

The Career Day, organized annually by the Orange County/Long Beach ASA Chapter (OCLBASA), was held on February 29, 2020, at the Chapman University in Orange, CA. The ASA Student Chapter represented and promoted the UCSD Biostatistics program. Students also had an opportunity to meet with representatives from Southern Californian businesses (e.g., Allergan Pharmaceuticals) and universities (e.g., UCSB, CSU Fullerton).

ASA Student Chapter Presidents Anya Umlauf and Brian Kwan. 

The ASA Student Chapter invites Dr. Nelson to speak to students about working as a biostatistician in the industry

Dr. Sandahl Nelson, a graduate of the UCSD/SDSU joint doctoral program in Epidemiology, held an information session about her experience as a biostatistician working for a global contract research organization (CRO). Dr. Nelson spoke of key differences between working in industry and academia, described essential skills needed to be successful as a practicing statistician, and gave an overview of types of projects and responsibilities. She answered students’ questions about work/life balance, work load/pressures, and importance of networking. 

Dr. Sandahl Nelson (second from the left) with ASA Student Chapter’s members (from left) Anya Umlauf, Brian Kwan, and Anubhav Singh Sachan.

2019 Activities

The ASA Student Chapter welcomes local SDSU faculty speaker

For the Spring quarter of 2019, the ASA student chapter invited Professor Barbara Bailey to give a research talk. Dr. Barbara Bailey is an Associate Professor in the Statistics Division at San Diego State University (SDSU) and serves as the statistics undergraduate advisor. She presented a talk on characterizing and clustering an adult cystic fibrosis patient population using longitudinal measurements of lung functioning. Prior to the talk, Dr. Bailey talked to chapter members about her experiences working with computational tools before the 21st century as well as gave an overview of the statistics programs at SDSU.


Dr. Barbara Bailey (center) with members of the ASA Student Chapter and UCSD biostatistics faculty.

Jinyuan Liu completes a summer internship at Bayer

Jinyuan Liu, who completed her second year in the PhD program, did a 12-weeks internship at the pharmaceutical company Bayer, focusing on a project called “Increase Clinical Trial Efficiency using Basket Trial Design with Bayesian Clustering Analysis” by developing a novel basket trial design and building an R package as well as R shiny for easy usage of this design in clinical trials.

UC San Diego Biostatistics students attend conferences during the summer break

Ruifeng Chen, who will start his third year in the PhD program in the fall of 2019, participated in the 2019 Western North American Region of the International Biometric Society Annual Meeting (2019 WNAR) in Portland, OR. Ruifeng gave a 15-minute student paper competition talk “Doubly Robust Causal Inference Using Doubly Matching Estimators” at the Causal Inference Section. WNAR offered the participants short courses, invited talk sections, student paper competition and the poster section. It was a great opportunity for Ruifeng to present his work, as WNAR was the first statistical conference he attended.

Tuo Lin, who finished his first year in the PhD program, went to the Statistical Methods in Imaging Conference (SMI 2019) held at UC Irvine, where he learned about the statistical research in the imaging area and also had a great chance to meet specialists leading the field. Tuo also traveled to Portland, OR, to attend the 2019 WNAR, where he presented his own research on causal inference. He had a chance to meet other researchers interested in that topic, prompting productive discussions with them that led to further development of Tuo’s research. Tuo found the experience helpful and recommends to everyone going to the conference.

Jinyuan Liu won the Student Travel Awards to attend 2 conferences. In June, she went to the 2019 Nonclinical Biostatistics Conference in New Brunswick, NJ, organized by the ASA Biopharmaceutical Section, where she presented a poster “The Effect of Estimating Residual Variance on Post-Selection Inference of LASSO in High-Dimensional Settings”. In September 2019, Jinyuan will travel to Washington, DC to attend the 2019 ASA Biopharmaceutical Section Regulatory-Industry Statistics Workshop, for which she received the Student Travel Award. Jinyuan will present a poster “A New Approach for Analysis of Beta-Diversity to Assess Microbiome Composition in Patients with Alcoholic Hepatitis and Alcoholic Use Disorder”.

UC San Diego Biostatistics students presented their work at the Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM) in Denver

Serene Jiang gave a talk titled “Multi-Block Sparse Functional Principal Components Analysis for Longitudinal Microbiome-Metabolomics Data” at the Section of Statistical Methods for Complex Interactions and Genetic and Environmental Epidemiology. This 15-minute presentation triggered many interesting discussions afterwards and potential collaborations were established with other statisticians.

Brian Kwan presented a contributed poster titled “Modeling Kidney Function Decline via Functional Principal Components Analysis (FPCA)” for the Section on Nonparametric Statistics. His results uncovered dominant modes of variation and novel patterns of kidney function decline. Furthermore, Brian attended two JSM courses: “Functional Data Analysis for Wearables: Methods and Applications” and “Meeting Within a Meeting”. Brian’s career development in research and teaching benefited immensely from both courses.

Brian Kwan presents a poster at JSM.

Anya Umlauf gave a speed talk titled “Advantages of parallel design over crossover design in the study on effects of cannabis on driving in healthy adults” at the Biopharmaceutical Section on Power and Sample Size. The speed talk session was followed by the e-poster session. In addition, Anya volunteered with the Statistics Education/History booth where she provided information on resources for persons practicing or interested in teaching statistics.

Anya Umlauf presents an e-poster at JSM.

The ASA Student Chapter gave an overview of biostatistics to high school students

On April 27, 2019, the High School Honors Statistics Contest was held on the UCSD campus. Dr. Ery Arias-Castro welcomed the co-presidents of the ASA Student Chapter, Anya Umlauf and Brian Kwan, to introduce biostatistics to the contest’s participants. Anya and Brian described biostatistics from a career standpoint and its pivotal role in advancing health-related research at UCSD. 

Anya Umlauf and Brian Kwan give an overview of biostatistics to participants of the High School Honors Statistics Contest

The ASA Student Chapter celebrates Lunar New Year

In February 2019, the ASA Student Chapter celebrated Lunar New Year. Current members, prospective members, and invited guests from as far as Oxford, England, gathered together to enjoy delicious Asian cuisine. Students took a break from studying for the midterm exams to catch up with friends and share personal stories and news.

ASA Student Chapter of UCSD welcomes its members and guests to celebrate Lunar New Year.

2018 Activities

The ASA Student Chapter welcomes its first invited speaker

Professor Jessica Utts became the first speaker invited by the ASA Student Chapter to give a talk on the topic of her choice. Dr. Utts is a Professor Emerita in the Department of Statistics at UC Irvine and was the 2016 President of the ASA. She presented a fascinating talk on studies of psychic abilities and the effect investigators’ personal beliefs may have on conclusions about the possible existence of psychic phenomena. The talk generated a lively discussion on the topic of psychic abilities as well as the appropriate scientific methods used to study such phenomena and importance of accurate interpretation of the results. The talk was followed by Q&A session, in which Dr. Utts answered questions from ASA student chapter members on various topics related to her current and past experiences as a practicing statistician and as a Professor of Statistics.

Dr. Jessica Utts gives a talk on studies of psychic abilities.

Dr. Jessica Utts with ASA Student Chapter’s members (from left) Brian Kwan, Anya Umlauf, and Anubhav Singh Sachan.

Two distinguished statisticians share their experiences with the ASA Student Chapter members

In the Fall quarter of 2018, members of the ASA student chapter had the opportunity to socialize with two esteemed statisticians prior to their talks for the Division of Biostatistics. On November 7th, the chapter members joined the biostatistics faculty for lunch with Dr. Tim Hesterberg, a Senior Statistician at Google. And on December 5th, the students met with Dr. Adrian E. Raftery, a Professor of Statistics and Sociology at the University of Washington. Both guests generously took questions from the students, sharing their wisdom and personal experience on topics ranging from effectively choosing a dissertation topic and successfully maintaining work-life balance. Students received valuable professional advice on developing skills and strategies for seeking and obtaining internships and future employment opportunities.


Dr. Adrian E. Raftery (center) with members of the ASA Student Chapter.

The ASA Student Chapter welcomes its first members

In September 2018, the ASA Student Chapter welcomed its first members. The chapter was greeted by Professor Natarajan, the Director of the UCSD Graduate Program in Biostatistics, and the chapter’s inaugural co-president Brian Kwan, a third year PhD student. In his address to the members, Brian outlined the vision for the chapter’s future and its role in student life, and described planned events for the upcoming year. Afterwards, the students had a mixer to get to know one another better.

Brian Kwan opens the first meeting of the ASA Student Chapter of UCSD.