2022-23 School Year Kickoff

The Department of Statistics kicked off the 2022-2023 school year with its annual ice cream social held at Graeter’s Ice Cream on Lane Ave. This event is always one of the highlights of the semester since we get to meet the incoming cohort, catch up with others in the department, and enjoy free ice cream! We went around asking faculty/students what they are most excited for the upcoming school year and what advice the faculty and senior students may have for new students.

Loving Hut (By Akira Horiguchi)

“Akira’s vegan adventures” is a blog series that chronicles experiences at vegan-friendly or vegan-exclusive food vendors. If the vegan scene in Columbus is popping, imagine how the general food scene is.
My friend and I had been trying to go together to Loving Hut for almost two years now. The first time around, we got there just to see a “closed until XX, XX, 2018” sign. We kept making dates to go, but whenever the day would come around, one of us would get sick. But finally, after two years, we made it.
The decor is super zen. You walk in and immediately feel calm. The owner greets you, takes your order, and serves you. She just radiates with enlightenment and you feel like you (yes, you!) can also achieve enlightenment, even for just an hour.
The menu is entirely vegan and covers mainly cuisine from various Asian cultures. I am normally skeptical of “Asian” restaurants (because Asia is obviously a country), but they did a great job on everything we ordered.
My friend and I decided to splurge, so we got tea and a strawberry and banana smoothie for drinks, Saigon rolls and Golden Nuggets as our appetizers, and pho and mac and cheese as our entrees. For dessert, we shared a slice of strawberry shortcake.

Admittedly, Loving Hut is a bit of a trek by Columbus standards. By car, it’s 20 minutes away. But it’s worth it!

Highlights of Columbus

In this post, some students describe their favorite places in Columbus, enjoy!

Anna Seffernick (3rd Year PhD Biostatistics):

The Olentangy trail is great for biking, walking, and running, and has several entrances near campus. My friends and I like to meet for long runs here on the weekends. If you want to get off the pavement, there are also several metro parks within a short drive of campus. (Photo Credit:

Danaye Nixon (1st Year MS Statistics)

I am a member of the Third Hand Bike Co-op, which is about a 20 minute bike ride or 10 minute drive from campus. You can become a member by volunteering, which earns some great discounts on a bike each year and new/used parts. Other members will teach you how to fix up bikes, so fear not if you do not know anything when you start. Whether or not you’re a member, you can still stop in to make a purchase! I like going to the Co-op because I can buy nice and affordable biking gear, and I can do some volunteering in the community as well!
James Matuk (4th Year PhD Statistics)
North Market is one of my favorite places in Columbus to visit.  The market has quite a few restaurants that operate like food trucks,  bakeries, and Columbus staples (Stauf’s Coffee, Jeni’s Ice Cream, Hot Chicken Takeover) all under one roof. I enjoy the bustling atmosphere and the fact that each visit can be a unique experience since the restaurants offer food from diverse cuisines.
Julia Mejia (2nd Year MAS Statistics)
One of my favorite things about Columbus is the metro parks. They all have great trails for hiking and some have interesting nature centers to check out. They also host a Winter Hike Series, which is a great way to get outside in the cold of winter and enjoy some free food!
Meredith McCormack-Mager (3rd Year PhD Biostatistics)
I spend every Sunday afternoon studying with classmates at Short North Coffee House. The homemade chai and grilled cheese sandwiches on naan are delicious and the family-run shop rotates an ecclectic collection of paintings by local artists. Above is my fellow student Anna’s favorite drink: italian soda with raspberry and lavender.
Nikki Schnitzler (3rd Year PhD Statistics)
One of my favorite places in Columbus is a donut shop called Buckeye Donuts. It is on High Street, about a five minute walk from Cockins Hall. They have amazing donuts and coffee plus a variety of food options. At least once a week, a group of us will walk over for a mid afternoon pick me up. Their red velvet donut with cream cheese frosting is my favorite, with their apple crisp donut taking a close second. You should definitely check them out when you get here!  (Photo Credit:
Vincent Geels (4th Year PhD Statistics)
One of my favorite parts about Columbus is the trail systems. I take advantage of the Olentangy Trail most days each week for running because of how close it is to where I live–it’s actually rare that I run anywhere else, unless I’m out of town or am planning to run on a different trail. Taking it south leads past OSU’s campus down toward the Scioto Mile, whereas taking it north leads me through quiet neighborhoods, past the Columbus Park of Roses, and up a beautiful wooded path on the way to Worthington. (Photo Credit:

Graduate Student Research Working Group

Earlier this semester, a few senior graduate students started to organize a research working group in order to provide a space to informally discuss research progress, get experience talking to people not directly in their research areas about their work, troubleshoot programming issues, and support one another to make weekly progress. As the semester developed, the focus of the group tended towards research accountability. Group members recorded long term goals related to professional milestones; for many members this was related to dates by which they would like to pass candidacy, defend their dissertation, finish projects or have work submitted to a journal. Members also chose a process-oriented method to track their weekly progress not tied to their goals like the amount of time spent working on research, the number of intervals of a specific time worked, etc. The choice to track progress by focusing on the process of getting work done is based on the principle that it leads to an easier way to measure success and get self-motivated rather than focusing on long-term goals which can lead to procrastination or feeling overwhelmed. Week to week, the students in the working group discuss how successful their previous week was, discuss any particularly good or bad things that happened throughout the week, and reflect on their progress towards their goal.
As the semester comes to an end, the final meeting of the year will be held on December 5th from 11 am – 12 pm in 212 Cockins Hall. We would like to invite anyone interested in participating in the group to join us for the meeting and enjoy some donuts from Buckeye Donuts. While the group originated to talk about research, the success framework followed by the group is flexible and could be applied to any goal. All students in the department are encouraged to come and participate.
Please see below for thoughts about the group from some of the members.

Vincent Geels (4th year PhD Statistics):

Having this regular meeting has been a great way to see how others manage their time and workload from week to week. I’ve been able to take away valuable ideas after each meeting that have helped me improve my productivity and strike a better balance between work and life. Finally, the social component of these meetings has been a welcome bonus as I transition out of coursework with fellow students to the research-focused phase of my PhD trajectory.

Akira Horiguchi (5th year PhD Statistics):

Once you stop taking classes and start your research full-time, it’s easy to silo yourself and get stuck in the same productivity loop. These meetings help me figure out concrete steps toward becoming a more productive researcher, which I can take with me once I’m out of graduate school and am truly on my own.

Nate Onnen (5th year PhD Statistics):

One of the best things about the working group for me was realizing that I was not alone. A lot of the time when you get into your personal research, it is so easy to think that you are the only person struggling. By hearing others talk about their research, you learn that it is just a messy process in general, and that we’re all going through the same stuff.

The Pets of the Department

In this post students from the program write about their pets. Enjoy viewing and reading about these adorable animals!

Joel Bracken (2nd year MS Statistics):


About a month ago my girlfriend and I adopted Mountie! He’s a Goldendoodle and almost 4 months old! He’s a very curious, scrappy, and cuddly guy. He enjoys biting the eyes off his plushy toys, getting love from strangers while on walks, and watching his favorite sports team, the West Virginia Mountaineers.

Han Fu (2nd year PhD Biostatistics):

This is Schrodinger. He was a stray cat and ran into our home ten days ago. He is so cute and sweet so we decided to accept him as a family member.

Vincent Geels (4th year PhD Statistics):

My housemates and I welcomed a kitten into our West Philadelphia home in 2011. We considered various names for the little fella–Lance, Keith, etc.–but ultimately decided on “Ned.” It has proven to be a fitting name for him.
After the original housemates went our separate ways, my wife and I kept Ned and ended up bringing him with us to Columbus when I started grad school at OSU. I like to think he appreciated the move to a less busy home and, since we decamped from our old apartment in the Short North to a house in the Clintonville area, the extra space to roam around in, too.
Ned likes what all cats like, really: sleeping for 20+ hours a day, basking in the sun, chasing shoestrings and shiny things. In the past few years he’s also developed into a sometime lap cat (mostly during the cold months–surprise!), which does not go unappreciated. I love this little guy.
A requisite picture:

Zihan Lin & Xiaohan Guo (3rd year PhD Biostatistics):

Cookie is a three-year-old boy, and we adopted him from the Cat Welfare Association at 2017 Christmas. I would say it’s very warm to have such a furry ball in our life, especially when you come home and find your cat is always waiting at the window. Although cat could be very naughty sometimes, Cookie does help us feel less stressful and have much more laughing.  We really enjoy the company of Cookie, and he is already an important part of our life.

James Matuk (4th year PhD Statistics):

This is my wife and I’s mischievous cat Chloe. We adopted her around two years ago when she was just five months old. She was quite shy when we first got her, but has grown up to be very outgoing and loves to snuggle up with us.

Julia Mejia (2nd year MAS Statistics):


Penny is a 3-year-old Vizsla who loves to go on runs and chase squirrels!

Nate Onnen (5th year PhD Statistics):


Name: Spencer
Favorite Hobby: Naps
Favorite treat: Turkey Jerky.
(My partner and) I adopted this little guy back in August, and I’m so happy to have done so. This little scamp is a great dog/companion!
Nikki Schnitzler (3rd year PhD Statistics)
This is my cat Newton, who I call Newt for short. One picture is shortly after I adopted him and one is more current.
Newt was my undergrad graduation present from my parents. He is almost three and his favorite foods are Oreos, Goldfish (the crackers, not the real fish), and anything with carbs in it. He loves to play with a laser pointer and distract me by sitting on whatever I am trying to work on at the moment.
Yuxuan Xin (1st Year PhD Statistics):
I am in my first year in Ph.D. Program of Statistics , and my cat is domestic medium hair called Frosty, while I would like to call her RMB, which means Chinese Currency. She is so cute and attracts me so much that I hope to pet her at every time everywhere! Actually, she is adopted by my boyfriend Yang 4 years ago and it is him who gives her that weird and interesting name. After he graduates, he asked me to take care of RMB so that RMB is not only my pet but also with my miss and love. I hope that everyone who sees her picture will feel happier!

Vegan ribz jazz festival (by Akira Horiguchi)

“Akira’s vegan adventures” is a blog series that chronicles experiences at vegan-friendly or vegan-exclusive food vendors. If the vegan scene in Columbus is popping, imagine how the general food scene is.

My friend Karen found this event on Facebook and asked if I wanted to go. This seemed like a perfect way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon. To fit in with the expected hipster crowd there, neither Karen or I drove there; she biked and I took the bus (free if you’re an OSU student).

I walked through the back door of Savor Pint in Clintonville (one of Columbus’s many neighborhoods), and a wall of sizzling smells hit me. Various food vendors stood proud, each executing their own vision of what vegan BBQ should be.

Wanting to try a little bit of everything, I first bit into some seitan ribz and was amazed at the flavorful bbq sauce and the seitan’s chewy texture. I then had some mac and cheeze, where the cheeze sauce was on point. Karen and I tried some of each other’s food — it was all delicious.

By the time we finished catching up and eating round 1, we went back to the vendors and ordered some more food. My last item were these fish sliders (no alternative spellings here). They were fried to order and, with the tartar sauce, tasted like some of the best fried fish I’ve ever had.

By then I had to leave to catch a flight to Denver for JSM, but I’ll definitely be back the next time this event rolls around.


Graduate Student Summer Experiences

In this post, a few fifth year graduate students in statistics share their experiences at workshops & conferences over the summer and early fall, enjoy!

Akira Horiguchi (5th Year Stat Ph.D. Student):


This summer I attended a two-week workshop hosted by SAMSI for graduate students looking to work on real national laboratory problems and be guided by actual scientists at these national labs.
The workshop was intense, to say the least. Imagine spending 9am-9pm every day for ten days straight in the same room with the same people working on the same problem. We learned a lot from each other and from our advisors. In particular, I learned about the pitfalls of a popular-R-package-that-shall-not-be-named and how to delegate work on a team with a large variance in skill level. I’m proud of how much we accomplished in such a short span of time.
It’s also difficult to not feel closer to your group, both students and advisors, after such an experience. By Day 10 we all felt like we had known each other for years. There’s a saying: “Who you know IS what you know.” At JSM a few days later, I unintentionally ran into my advisors several times and was introduced to some of their coworkers at Los Alamos National Lab. The ties we make at workshops like these help us progress through our careers, whether it’s through insider knowledge about an organization or opportunity or through actual job connections.
For more info and even a 5-minute video, see the link below. The workshop felt like a ten-week summer internship (of which I’ve done many) compressed into two weeks. For the reasons above, I recommend this workshop to any of our graduate students.

Matthew Wascher (5th Year Stat Ph.D. Student):

AMS Mathematical Research Communities: Stochastic Spatial Models
The professional highlight of my summer was a week-long research program sponsored by the AMS and focused on stochastic spatial models. The aim of the program was to work on open problems in groups with other graduates students and recently graduated PhDs with some guidance from faculty mentors. Topics covered included first passage percolation, chase escape processes, and a variety of interacting particle systems. My group of 6 focused on epidemics on networks and was mentored primarily by noted probabilist Rick Durrett of Duke.
In addition to about a standard workday of time working on problems, the conference also included professional development and networking opportunities. The program took place at Whispering Pines in Rhode Island and included a trip to Newport and a guided tour of a local observatory. In addition, there were panel discussions from recently hired faculty and representatives from the AMS and mathjobs (a website where many math and stats faculty jobs are posted) about the process of going on the academic market. It was also an invaluable experience to meet and learn about the research interests of many young probabilists who may one day be my colleagues or collaborators.
The program also includes opportunities for support for follow-up collaborations. I have already made plans to meet with two of my group members to continue work on interesting problems. In addition, I will have the opportunity to present my research on epidemics on networks during a special session of the AMS Joint Mathematics Meeting in 2020 (the math equivalent of JSM.) Overall the program was an enjoyable and valuable experience and I am grateful to my adviser, David Sivakoff, for suggesting that I apply. I would encourage anyone interested in research to look for an apply to these types of programs.
For more information of the AMS MRC: Stochastic Spatial Models session, see the following link
Nate Onnen (5th Year Stat Ph.D. Student):

STATMOS Workshop 2019

On September 13th– September 14th 2019, I attended a workshop hosted by STATMOS (Statistical Methods for Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences). The goal of this workshop was to “bring young researchers into the field of Spatial Statistics and develop collaborations”. During the two days of the workshop, we were lucky to have lectures given by esteemed professors and researchers in the field of spatial statistics: Christopher Wikle from the University of Missouri, Doug Nychka from the Colorado School of Mines, and Will Kleiber from the University of Colorado Boulder. They gave an overview of the state of spatio-temporal statistics today, with topics ranging from fitting basic spatio-temporal models, through using spectral analysis to evaluate the role of parameters in complex multivariate spatial structures. In the afternoons, we got to get our hands dirty with some real world data; we worked in small groups and got to see how other minds approach the same problems.

I personally enjoyed the location that we were in as well. I always find it refreshing to get out of Columbus every now and again to experience a new place. This workshop was held in Iowa City, Iowa, which is the home to the University of Iowa. This is a true college town, which featured a bunch of great bars and restaurants that I got to experience in my time there. Furthermore, I really enjoyed getting to meet some of my peers in the field. We all came from different institutions and were in different places in our research, which gave me a lot more perspective about the graduate experience as a whole.

In all, this was not a large conference, but I think that the impact that it had on my studies was quite enormous. I would encourage all graduate students to keep your eyes peeled for small conferences or workshops in your specific research fields. There is often money involved, and you might just get yourself a free trip. The experience of these conferences is often invaluable as well!

Christopher Wikle, PhD

Douglas Nychka, PhD

Will Kleiber, PhD

Curators Distinguished Professor and Department Chair of the Department of Statistics at the University of Missouri. Professor of Statistics at the Colorado School of Mines and Emeritus Scientist for the National Center for Atmospheric Research Associate Professor of Statistics at the University of Colorado

The hotel I got to stay at (free of charge!)

A neon sign from St. Burch’s Tavern: a great restaurant I got to eat at in Iowa City (thanks to that per diem!):