Department of Statistics

Xinxing (Joyce) Li, China: Statistics PhD student


"Researchers and research topics were very important in my decision"


Xinxing’s research is driven by computational problems arising in the use of the univariate generalised hyperbolic distribution (GHyp) in statistical applications. In most cases, their solution requires advances in theory and methodology. Her research necessitates developing software in R, the free statistical computing and graphics tool developed at the University of Auckland in the 1990s and now used worldwide.

Why did you choose to do your PhD study at the University of Auckland?
I came to New Zealand on my own to study at Wanganui High School and then did a BSc in Operations Research at the University of Auckland. By the time I graduated with my MSc from the University of Auckland, I knew I wanted my PhD research to involve incorporating statistical theory work into the R project, which was born in the Department of Statistics. So it was the ideal place to continue my study. Besides, I was already familiar with the University’s facilities.

How important was the University’s worldwide ranking in your decision to study here?
It was quite important as the University of Auckland was the only New Zealand institution ranked in the top 50 in 2007, which motivated me to start my postgraduate study here.

How important in your decision to study here were the researchers and research topics available in the Department of Statistics?
Researchers and research topics were very important in my decision. My research topic is not only something I am interested in doing but also I’m good at, and that would help me to build a solid foundation for my future career. Researchers are equally important as they set the academic atmosphere and quality of a department.

How important was Auckland’s lifestyle, climate and amenities in your decision to study here?
Climate wasn’t that important, but lifestyle and amenities were quite important.

Was Auckland’s cultural diversity an important part of your decision to study here?
Yes, it was, as cultural diversity helps me find my feet in a new place. Whenever I felt homesick I was always able to find a Chinese place – a restaurant or a shop.

What questions do you think potential postgraduate students from overseas need to ask when making choices about where to study?
I’d ask three questions: What research facilities can this university offer me? What type of scholarships can you offer? Will I have any work opportunities while I study?

How have you funded your study?
I’ve funded myself and I’m also working part-time at the University as a tutor/marker, which I enjoy a lot.

Xinxing (Joyce) Li is from Beijing, China. She studied at Wanganui High School, then completed her BSc in Operations Research and her MSc in Statistics at the University of Auckland.

UPDATE:  Xinxing finished her PhD in 2014 and now works as a data scientist for the Bank of New Zealand