Nikola Surjanovic

Scalable Bayesian Methods for Sampling From Complex Probability Distributions
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I love the combination of creative thinking and logical reasoning that is required for success in a graduate program. Solving a new research problem is like solving a puzzle for the first time. Each problem is different and exciting. Going to graduate school seemed like an obvious choice for me because of my interest in research and my desire to pursue a career in academia in the future.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

UBC has a large number of research faculty working on a diverse array of projects and on interdisciplinary research. I feel that UBC offers the perfect environment for me to pursue my career goals and work on many interesting projects.

What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?

UBC is an exciting place to conduct research in computational Bayesian statistics, with multiple recent hires in this area in the Statistics and Computer Science departments. It is also one of only a few universities in Canada to have a separate Department of Statistics, which speaks about the strength of the program and its faculty.

What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?

I can’t say that I am new to Vancouver, but I am still often surprised at how many places there are to explore. There aren’t many cities in which it is theoretically possible to go to the beach and ski on a mountain in the same day! So far, at UBC the faculty and administration seem to be very friendly and supportive.

What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?

Experiences gained during undergraduate research have helped me immensely in graduate school. It’s best to start early with research to learn how to identify interesting research problems and what steps to take to solve them. I also gained a great deal of insight into graduate school by speaking with other graduate students and professors.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I have been playing tennis for a long time now. It’s a great way to relax, catch up with friends, and get some exercise all at the same time.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Join a club (or start a new one) and meet new people. Every new connection is valuable. Also, with respect to research, try to expose yourself to as many research areas as possible to get a better feeling of what it is that really interests you. This means attending seminars or engaging in casual conversations with professors and other students.


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