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SDS Student Spotlight: Omar Chavez

20170201 170757 298x53024 April 2017—Meet Omar Chavez, a student in the PhD program in the Department of Statistics and Data Sciences.

Tell us a little bit about yourself—educational background, previous work experience, etc. 

I am originally from West Texas. I got my BS from UT in Mathematics. After school, I was a touring musician but after several years decided the life was not for me. I have always had an affinity for technology and so my intention was to get an MS in Computer Science and find a job but I found my self getting the most excited about my Machine Learning and Data Mining classes. It was at this point I decided to switch gears, sort of, and attend University of Michigan's Applied Statistics program. Realizing a masters degree was only going to get me part of the way to a deeper understanding of statistics, I decided to go all the way and pursue a PhD. 

What attracted you to the PhD in Statistics program at UT? 

I was most attracted to the PhD in Statistics program at UT because even though it did not have a top 10 rank on a site like US News or phd.org, its periphery programs in subjects like Math, Computer Science and  Information Risk and Operations Management in the Business School did. Many of UT's Statistics professors have joint appointments and it seemed like a safe bet UT would produce a top end Statistics program.

How would you describe your area of study/specific research to someone outside your field? 

Since I started doing research, I have focused on two areas. The first is related to Scalable Inference where I make use of distributed systems to do statistics on big data. The second is in Causal Inference where I am working to adapt the methods used to estimate individual treatment effects to large scale data.
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