Summer scholar joins the big (data) league

18 February 2019
Yongshi Deng, Department of Statistics, Honours degree e and Vodafone summer intern
Yongshi Deng

Yongshi Deng has only just completed her honours degree in statistics from the University of Auckland. But she’s already had a taste of the big league, working in the data analytics team at communications company Vodafone over summer.

Her entry to Vodafone was a Summer Research Scholarship which allowed her to work on a Statistics summer research project.

Every year, domestic and international students apply to take part in a range of projects in and outside the university. The recipients get a $6,000 stipend for 10 weeks of learning, growing and networking while contributing to a real-world project.

Under the supervision of Dr Ciprian Giurcaneanu, Yongshi worked with Vodafone staff on analysing and modelling opt-out behaviour among the company’s fixed line customers – those who had purchased broadband, landline telephone and television services. She used a combination of data on customer use of their services, network data, and information from Vodafone’s call centre.

Yongshi relished being able to put into practice what she learned in her BSc in mathematics and statistics and her honours in statistics. There were plenty of problems to solve, particularly in data cleaning.

“Big, real-world datasets can be very messy. There are millions of missing values that need to be handled," she says.

Yongshi, who hopes to pursue a PhD this year, was one of eight students studying statistics who received Summer Research Scholarships. Each is profiled on StatsChat, the Department of Statistics blog. Read Yongshi’s full story here. The other students were:

  • Larisa Morales Soto, who worked with Dr Beatrix Jones on a project exploring how the eating habits of New Zealand children change during their childhood and the transition to adolescence. Read more.
  • Simon Goodwin, who worked with Dr Jesse Goodman on random graph dynamics and hitting times. Read more.
  • Yiwen He, who worked with Professor Chris Wild on developing functions to convert raw dates and times data to a standard format in iNZight, the free data visualisation and analysis software he developed. Read more.
  • Lushi Cai, who also worked with Professor Chris Wild on iNZight, implementing interactive web graphs for R-generated statistics plots. Read more.
  • Monica Merchant, who worked with Professor Chris Wild on developing the predictive analytics module for iNZight. Read more.
  • Grace Namuhan, who worked with Professional Teaching Fellow Anna Fergusson on the design of interactive data visualisation tools for large classes. Read more.
  • Xin Qian, who worked with Dr Ben Stevenson, an expert in statistical methods for estimating animal populations. Read more.


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