Ying Chen - Undergraduate Students in Science Research

Meet Ying Chen

Ying Chen is an international student in her fourth year of the Statistics/Actuarial Honours BSc degree program in the Faculty of Science.  She is originally from Chongqing, a major city in Southwest China.  The municipality of Chongqing has a population of 32.8 million, and the city itself has a population of 3.9 million.  Moving to Winnipeg meant moving to a much smaller city in a place far from home: quite the change for a recent high school graduate!
Why did she choose the UM?

After completing high school in China, Ying knew that she wanted an international experience, and she chose the UM because of the reputation of the Actuarial program.  She also wanted to do some work in Statistics, and the double honours Actuarial/Statistics program fit the bill.

How did she find out about the Undergraduate Summer Research Awards (USRA) program?

During the school term, there was an announcement in one of her classes about the USRAs, and she decided to apply.  On being accepted into the program Ying says: “I was given the opportunity to work as a summer research assistant in the Department of Statistics with Drs. Saumen Mandal and Xikui Wang. The Department was able to accommodate a range of interests – so I was able to work on and get a taste of different projects.”

The Projects

Coming into the project, Ying, a finance student, did not have a background in optimal design or in research, but she was keen to learn.  She began the summer working with Dr. Wang on a project involving finance and medical research, as an introduction to working on a research question, and then she eased her way into the optimal design project with Dr. Mandal.

The main objective of the optimal design research was to come up with a good estimation of the parameters of a regression model. These methods allow statisticians to estimate parameters without bias and with minimum variance. Ying looked at four different designs of one model.

She explains: “I learned how the values or levels of inputs are chosen before running an experiment and observing a measurement on some variables of interest. I also learned how optimal design could be used to reduce the cost of experimentation. For example, you can choose an efficient design with a smaller sample size to reduce the cost of an experiment.”

The project has many practical applications including medical science and agriculture.  Ying says: “I learned a lot over the summer, not only statistical knowledge and research skills, but also ways of communicating and collaborating with my professors.”

Ying’s Advice to Other Students

“A summer research experience will help you explore more academic fields and their applications and broaden your experience. So if you are in the process of deciding whether to continue on to a graduate program or to go into industry, you should try at least one summer research project, because it is the best way to find the answer!”

“Also, make sure you follow up with those in-class announcements, and take advantage of the awards!  It’s a great way to make practical decisions about your future.”

About the USRAs in the Faculty of Science

Summer undergraduate research award projects in the Faculty of Science are funded by various sources such as the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada, the Faculty of Science and the grants held by professors at the University of Manitoba.

Students apply for awards during the Fall Term.  Check with the Departments in Science for deadlines.


Ying Chen

Ying Chen with her USRA Department of Statistics Professors, Saumen Mandal (left) and Xikui Wang, Department Head, (right)