Department of Statistics

Meet our students

Learn more about why current students of the Department of Statistics chose to study with us and what their hopes for the future are.


Niffe Hermansson: PhD student in Statistics, Stochastic Processes

What I enjoy most about statistics is how it helps us to understand and communicate precise things about reality through mathematics. I am studying what happens in certain types of queuing systems, when customers themselves decide what to do based on the state of the system.

I initially thought of doing my PhD in Auckland because I really like New Zealand. Then, when I visited the University, it was obvious that the Department of Statistics would be a stimulating place to study. The quality of researchers and research topics available in the Department were very important in my decision to do my study here.

Life in New Zealand has exceeded my wildest expectations. Living in Auckland means that I can enjoy the combination of the atmosphere of a vibrant city with proximity to nature.

Niffe completed his PhD in 2018.


Alex Wang: PhD student in Statistics, Stochastic Processes

What I really enjoy most about statistics and research is that moment when I get inspiration for a new idea. Then, testing this idea by simulation and finally proving that it works!

Last year, when I was looking for a good place to do my PhD, The University of Auckland was my first choice. This is because the UoA is a top-ranked university in the world, it is great in research, and Auckland is so nice! The research environment here is awesome, and quite different from some top universities in US. Here, I can feel “You wanna do a PhD, and we will support you.”

My main research area is queuing networks with selfish routing. My PhD project will investigate the performance and control of queuing networks with state-dependent selfish routing. That is, situations where individuals can choose their own route through the network, based on full or partial knowledge of the current state of the network.

Alex completed his PhD in 2018 and is now a senior data scientist for Auckland-based company Causality.


Sampath Fernando: PhD in Statistics, Forensics

I really enjoy the mathematical basis of statistics, and I appreciate its applicability to almost all subject areas. My PhD study aims to find statistical solutions to problems in forensic science, and is thereby in applied statistics. I am using Bayesian and Monte Carlo Markov Chain (MCMC) methods in interpretation of mixed DNA.

Foreign exposure during postgraduate studies is highly valued in the Sri Lankan university community. Therefore I decided to obtain international research experience by doing a PhD overseas. I chose the University of Auckland not only because it is the leading university in New Zealand, but also because it ranks within the top hundred universities in the world. In addition, the variety, quality and experience of the academic staff at the Department of Statistics attracted me a lot.

Update: Sampath graduated in 2017, and is now a senior lecturer at Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka.


Blake Seers: PhD in Statistics and Marine Science

My research is in assessing and predicting the likely impacts that climate change will have on sedimentation in the coastal marine environment.

I love the fact that Statistics is a tool that can be applied to many different situations and disciplines. Marine Science is my passion and I use statistics to understand the complex interactions that exist between natural processes and our unique marine environment.

I am doing a PhD because although I learnt so much when researching marine water quality and sedimentation for my masters, it turned out that my research left me with more questions than answers. I thoroughly enjoyed the research aspect of my MSc and I wanted more answers to some of the most pressing questions that face marine science today.

Update: Blake Seers graduated in 2017 and is now  a member of the Statistical Consulting Centre within the Department of Statistics at the University of Auckland.


Leshun Xu: PhD student in Statistics

I enjoy finding the reasons behind statistical phenomena and providing solutions for practical problems. I decided to do a PhD in Statistics because it is an important scientific language and tool for almost every field of research, it’s essential for problem-solving.

I chose The University of Auckland for my PhD because of the top-level research that is done here and because it is the birthplace of ‘R’. My research is in spatial microfoundations for complex survey asymptotics; the goal of my research is to use existing asymptotic theory for spatial random fields and point processes to derive new asymptotic results for survey sampling that are more general and whose assumptions are more naturally related to the underlying geographic reality.