New Faculty Spotlight: Big Data Holds the Link
Algorithms Toward World Change
By Jenifer Rankin
Yang Li, Ph.D., will join FAU's department of mathematical sciences at Charles E. Schmidt College of Science as an assistant professor in Spring 2021. Li's research will focus on mathematical formulas, models, and techniques that are used in statistical analysis of research data. Li's approach includes unique statistical methods to extract information from research data and provide researchers a different way to assess that data.
Here's a look at what Li said about his journey to FAU:
Q: What is your research focus?
A: My research focuses on the development of statistical methodologies. I have strong interests in both theory and applications in spatial statistics, spatio-temporal modeling, network science, data mining, and interdisciplinary research. These fields are fun to work with and have a great impact on diverse scientific research fields.
Q: What do you want people to know about your research?
A: My main focus is on spatial and spatio-temporal statistics which are distinct from the classical statistics due to their rich correlation structures. The increasing sample size in the big data era nowadays makes both modeling and computation even more challenging. Therefore, there is an urgent need for some novel and powerful ideas and that is something I have been working on since graduate school. Spatial and spatio-temporal statistics have broad usages in geoscience, economics, ecology, epidemiology and other environmental fields.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: Besides my ongoing work in spatial statistics, network science is my new hobby, which is the study of complex networks such as social networks, transportation networks, computer networks, and biological networks. Understanding how the elements are interacting with each other and the structure of the network can help prevent the spread of infectious diseases (such as COVID-19), provide more relevant recommendations in online shopping websites, and gather more job opportunities on the job market. Network science is a highly interdisciplinary field with contributions from mathematics, statistics, physics, and computer science.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish with your work?
A: My goal is to develop innovative and efficient statistical methods and algorithms that can be used in applications in different scientific communities. I am aiming to establish and increase my own research portfolio and meanwhile, to engage actively in collaborative research relationships.
Q: Do you have any advice for becoming a researcher in your field?
A: Be a friend with big data!
Q: What is an interesting fact that people at FAU may not know about you?
A: I was born and grew up in the city of Xuzhou, China. I received my bachelor's degree in physics from University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, Anhui province. After earning my first doctorate in physics from the University of Minnesota in the U.S., I spent a couple of years working as a postdoc at Iowa State University where I also received my second PhD in statistics. I have worked for several years at the University of Minnesota-Duluth before joining FAU in Spring 2021. In my spare time, I enjoy playing soccer, volleyball, badminton, and Go (a strategy board game popular in East Asia). I also love going outside and enjoying nature. The beautiful South Florida provides a great opportunity for that.
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