Department of Statistics

Xuxu (Demi) Wang: Statistics PhD student


"Choosing the University of Auckland means I also chose an amazing lifestyle."


Xuxu (Demi) Wang’s research looks at multivariate nonparametric mixture models, which provide solutions to challenging real-world issues in cluster analysis, density estimation, discriminant analysis and random effects models.

Why did you choose to do your post-graduate study at the University of Auckland?

Firstly, I was attracted by the high-quality research being done at the University of Auckland. Secondly, I found a teacher here, Dr Yong Wang, whose research interests really matched mine, and he has published lots of high-level papers in these fields. Now he is my supervisor. And last but not least, I love New Zealand, which is the most beautiful country in the world.

How important was the University’s worldwide ranking in your decision to study here?
It was important; it told me that the University of Auckland was a very good university, better than many other universities in the world.

How important in your decision to study here were the researchers and research topics available in the Department of Statistics?
When I worked as a product analyst at a large Chinese-language search-engine company, I found there were many problems in clustering we could not solve. As a result of my enthusiasm for statistics, I decided to do a PhD and find answers for these problems. After browsing some universities’ websites, I decided the University of Auckland would be the best choice for me because many researchers there are interested in clustering and other statistical problems. Furthermore, the University of Auckland is the birthplace of statistical computing and graphic software package R, so I knew I would learn much about R here which would be helpful in my future research.

Has life in New Zealand been as you imagined?
Totally! I had seen the movie The Lord of the Rings, so I knew New Zealand was a very beautiful country. On weekends, I usually go trekking with friends to enjoy the landscape. In summer, we like spending time on the beach. Sometimes we go fishing together too. I came here on my own, but I have lots of friends here now.

How important was Auckland’s lifestyle, climate and amenities in your decision to study here?
Very important. Auckland is peaceful and the climate here is comfortable. In addition, there are many beautiful parks, such as One Tree Hill, where I usually spend my weekend mornings. All these are parts of Auckland, and part of my life, so choosing the University of Auckland means I also chose an amazing lifestyle.

Was Auckland’s cultural diversity an important part of your decision to study here?
It was. In making the decision to come here I hoped to make friends from different cultures. And the cultural diversity of the city also means it is open and friendly, which make life easier in a foreign country.

What questions do you think potential postgraduate students from overseas need to ask when making their decision about where to study?
People need to ask about the condition of the New Zealand economy and job opportunities here after graduating.

How have you funded your study?
I am supported by my part-time job and parents. I also work as a tutor in the Department. I really enjoy this job because I love sharing knowledge with others. Furthermore, it helps me get to know more people and practice my English.

Xuxu (Demi) Wang is from Chengdu in southwest China. She holds an undergraduate degree in aircraft manufacturing engineering from Beihang University, Beijing, China and a Master of Engineering from Beihang University, Beijing, China.

UPDATE: Xuxu Wang graduated in 2014 and is now working as a data scientist in Auckland for Workday Inc., an American cloud-based software company.