Biostatistics Alumni Feature

Lan LuoLan Luo, PhD 

Michigan Biostatistics, class of 2020
Assistant Professor
Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science
University of Iowa

The transition from graduate student to faculty member can be intimidating - We talked to recent graduate Lan Luo about her experience.

What was your first year as a faculty member like?

"I believe the first year for a brand new faculty member in COVID-19 pandemic is quite different from what it should be. But I felt it made my transition more smooth as most of my time are blocked from interruptions due to the stay at home order. The dimension of my new life does not increase dramatically except that I have to spend some time on teaching, but it is as terrible as what I heard before. To be honest, teaching helped to relieve from depression as I have to be energetic and enthusiastic in front of my students especially for a virtual class, so that they are more likely to be interested and motivated. As for research, being a faculty member means you will have a chance to be exposed to all different projects, talking to different people with various expertise and this is definitely exciting experience. Even though most of the work are quite challenging and I have to always push myself to boundaries, there is almost nothing comparable to that sense of accomplishment which is so worthwhile. To put it simply, it is indeed a challenge but enjoyable journey!"

Any words of wisdom or tips that you might want to share with those that might be job searching soon?

"First, there is a huge amount work to be done in the application process including different statements, CV, personal website etc. So make sure to start early and try to make good advertisements about your work. Second, once you get a chance to be interviewed, prepare an exciting and super smooth job talk as well as written answers to every possible questions. Practicing tons of times and record every single practice and try to make improvements over time. Finally, feeling proud of being a PhD candidate from UM, stay calm and Go Blue!"

How do you feel UM Biostatistics prepared you for your current job?

"My past six years at UM Biostat definitely changed my career path since I used to be majoring in pure biology for undergraduate, there is nothing I should be more grateful to than my years spent at UM Biostat. All my basic statistics training came from my first two years in master program and those courses as well as evaluation criterions are so great. More importantly, I can never become a faculty member in a statistical department without the mentorship from my PhD advisor, Professor Peter Song. He is so inspiring, motivated, patient… I don’t think I have enough words to express my sincere gratefulness to his supervision and support. But being a PhD student of him is indeed the luckiest thing that ever happened to me in my life. Overall, I really love and miss the warm community at UM Biostat, everyone including faculty members, staffs and my peers are always nice and helpful!"

Is there anything else you want to share?

"I am so grateful to my students who are so supportive of me as a brand new teacher, they gave me a lot of compliments which made me feel all the efforts are worthwhile and meaningful. I still remember in the first few weeks I felt so bad about myself for making any mistakes in class, and it was so terrible to be a public speaker three times a week. I talked to my father at that time and he told me “you are under high pressure only because you are taking more responsibilities”. Thereafter, I just focused on trying my best to deliver knowledge to those lovely students who fully trusted me and overcame the hurdles in my heart."