Leonard Mushunje, Shunri (David) Zheng, Tengyu Song, and Qinyuan Dong received a departmental Travel Award to attend the JSM Conference in Toronto this summer. Read about their conference experience!


My experience at the 2023 JSM conference was undoubtedly life changing and rewarding.

The program was packed with captivating, diverse and rich sessions ranging from theoretical to applied Statistics topics. More than hundred sessions were delivered every day and I was fortunate to attend interesting sessions on high dimensional statistics, the future of data science and algebraic statistics. These sessions have definitely enriched me with more advanced knowledge in algebraic statistics, high dimensional statistics, and ultimately my approach to conquering the data science arena. A big thank you goes to the Statistics department for honoring me with a Travel award to attend the JSM 2023. I also had time to listen to talks from bright minds from top notch schools and organizations such as Harvard, MIT,

Stanford, Columbia, Oxford, University of Cambridge, Google, DeepMind, Fidelity Investments among others. I also had a chance to present my poster, “Generative adversarial networks for high dimensional financial time series data” and I received useful feedback and comments from the audience. My hope is to give a special or invited talk in the future JSM conferences. Last but not least, one of the most memorable benefits from the conference was networking. With over 6000 participants from both academia and industry, I managed to create lifelong networks and had time to share my past, current and future plans with others, molding me into a more determined scholar. We had a JSM app which enabled us to access the contact information for all speakers and attendees which made our future networking easier.”



Attending the Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM) was an exhilarating experience for me. It was my first dive into the world of academic conferences, and every moment was filled with learning and connection. I was especially captivated by the talks and courses centered around reinforcement learning, a topic I’m deeply passionate about. Beyond the academic insights, JSM provided a wonderful platform to bond with like-minded individuals. I found joy in making new friends and discussing shared interests with students and professionals alike. The event was a wealth of knowledge, and I am grateful for every session I attended. A special thanks goes to our department for their support, making this enriching experience possible for me.”



I had the amazing opportunity to attend this year’s Joint Statistical Meeting (JSM) in Toronto, my first-ever JSM experience. Let me sum up my time there.
JSM is a fantastic place to learn about new statistical topics. Every day, there are lots of interesting presentation sessions, though sometimes I had to choose because they overlapped. They also offer professional development courses for an extra fee. Just before JSM began, Mr. Peterson emailed me to volunteer as a course monitor. This let me take a professional development course for free. So, I ended up taking two courses without any charge. These courses were really good, especially the one about fundamental reinforcement learning. The instructors covered the basics and also talked about their own research and where current theories might have gaps. 

JSM is also great for making connections. There are loads of people at the event, like professors, exhibitors, and PhD students from around the world. I met many people during the first-timer orientation, poster sessions, receptions, and even the dance party. I quickly made friends with a lot of them. 

JSM isn’t just about learning and networking – it’s fun too. At the EXPO, you can chat with exhibitors and get some cool stuff. The dance party is a chance to relax with colleagues and friends over a beer. I even joined the scavenger hunt, scanning QR codes at different places to win prizes. I didn’t quite make it to the top five, but the organizers still gave me a free JSM T-shirt. 

And of course, I can’t forget the COPSS Award. This year, Professor Tibshirani from Berkeley won it. Also, Professor Gelman got the Monroe G. Sirken Award and gave an interesting talk about his latest research on handling weight in sampling inference. 

All in all, my first JSM experience was a mix of learning, networking, and fun. It broadened my statistical knowledge and helped me connect with others in the field. I am deeply grateful to our statistics department for granting me this remarkable opportunity.”



My first-time academic conference experience has been more than fantastic. Though I only

stayed for three days, the impressive academic atmosphere and abundant presentations are

something that I will never forget. To meet my previously learned knowledge and future research

interests, I joined several presentations regarding Bayesian statistics and machine learning,

which I might not be able to thoroughly understand but really got me exposed to the newest and

most advanced theories and methods. During the conference, I enjoyed wandering in the JSM

Expo and taking part in the scavenger hunt, exploring those companies and organizations that

successfully bring statistics into application. Also, I went to our department’s reception and

luckily had the chance to talk to Chair Zheng and fellow students, which really gave me the

feeling of being in this great family of statistics.”


Congratulations, Varchasvi!

The Statistics Club and the MA Team would like to congratulate Varchasvi Vedula,  winner of the 2022 DataFest

“It was amazing to finally participate in a DataFest! I loved being one of the first people analyzing this real data set to create new features and metrics, study for trends, and share my findings and suggestions with the data providers. It’s a cherry on top and a huge honor to be appreciated for my work. Thank you!”    ~ Varchasvi Vedula


Daiki Tagami, who will graduate in May 2022 from the MA Program in Statistics, has won the 2022 Columbia College Leadership & Excellence Award for Innovation & Enhancement.  Daiki’s selection as an honoree is a testament to the outstanding impact he’s had on his peers, the campus, and other communities he has served. On behalf of the Department of Statistics, join us, as we congratulate Daiki. 

The DataFest Fall 2019 findings were presented on the topic of religiosity by six teams. Each team developed robust models and analyzed the dataset. The DataFest was judged by professors from the Statistics Department: Professors Liu, Vatter and Lee.

First Place was awarded to 4 Students, one of which is an MA Stastistics student, Ali Turfah. Other students included: Chao Tang, Aastha Joshi, Mengni Zhu


Yuki Kitayama, Keane Nguyen-Ba and Xinyue Li, MA students, received a departmental Travel Award to attend the JSM Conference in Denver this summer. Here is what they had to say about the conference…

Yuki Kitayama

“JSM was a great experience from an academic and career perspective. I was able to take a one day course on Bayesian Time Series Analysis and Forecasting. I attended interesting presentations on topics including NLP and real estate value forecasting. In terms of career advancement, I talked to many employers and shared my resume. I actually had three FT interviews onsite with banking and asset management companies. I was also able to expand my network through mixer events with other MA and PhD students at Columbia, as well as other universities.” 


Keane Nguyen-Ba 

“It was an honor to receive the MA Statistics program’s support to attend JSM 2019. From start to end, the event was a rewarding experience as I had the opportunities to learn from the some of the brightest minds in both academia and industry. As the theme of JSM was about making an impact, I got to see how immensely applicable machine learning, and statistics in general, has been to a wide range of fields, from healthcare to sport to the game industry. One of my favorite sessions was where top-notched researchers from Harvard, Stanford and Google Brain discussed a widely popular Applied Causality paper by our very own professor David Blei and one of his PhD Students. There was also a series of enlightening lectures by Stanford professor Trevor Hastie, whose statistical learning books have become every Statistics students’ Bible! I came back inspired and motivated, I am already looking forward to returning next year, and hopefully with a chance to present my own poster.”  

Xinyue Li

“The six days experience at JSM was beyond my expectation. Over a hundred of programs and sessions were delivered every day covering very detailed knowledge and topics of statistics. I was very excited to find studies of applying Machine Learning in marketing, game industry and music classification. I also attended presentations of recent advances in statistical methods and deep learning algorithms. This has definitely broadened my knowledge in carrying out statistical analysis and knowing more about advanced methods that I’ve never heard before. It was also a great opportunity for networking. Finally, IBM built an app for JSM so that I could obtain contact information of all attendees and speakers. I’d love to connect with some of them in the future.”