Advice for Prospective PhD Students (in biostatistics)

It’s application season for graduate admissions again! As a current PhD student, I thought I would share some advice for prospective students. I’d previously written on whether you should get a PhD. In this post, I will talk about things you can do to prepare for a biostatistics PhD and the application process. As with any advice I give on this blog, it is based on my personal experience – I was a math and statistics major in undergrad at UChicago and I’m now a biostatistics PhD student at Johns Hopkins – so your mileage may vary.

What is the Effect of Increasing Voter Turnout in the U.S.?

On campaign trails across the U.S., the same message is often repeated: vote! Their goal is to encourage more people to vote, especially the people who are likely to vote for them. But which party benefits more from increasing overall voter turnout? The conventional wisdom today is that it benefits the Democratic party more than the Republican party. This is based on the working knowledge that young people of color are believed to have lower voting turnouts and are also more likely to vote for Democratic candidates.

Learning to Use Vim

Even though vim has been my default text editor for a couple of years now, I’m still woefully ignorant about how to actually use it. Because 95% of my coding time is spent in RStudio, I really only use vim to briefly edit some bash scripts and therefore my unfamiliarity with it isn’t an urgent issue. Nonetheless, I tried to rectify this shortcoming a few months ago by changing my RStudio settings to “vim mode” and forcing myself to use vim commands all the time.

My Preliminary Oral Exam

In my PhD program, we are required to take a “preliminary oral exam.” It’s the second major hurdle to getting your PhD, the first being the written comprehensive exam and the last being the thesis defense, and it typically takes place during your third year. The structure of the oral exam is the following. First, I was asked to leave the room for a few minutes as the committee members decide what order they’re going to ask questions and other logistics.

Introduction to Regular Expressions (regex) in R

If you haven’t used regular expressions (regex) before, they are basically a way to write search patterns for strings. I’ve always found them to be inscrutable and unintuitive, so even though the search pattern I have in mind is usually very simple and should, in theory, require only a basic regex, I always have to Google what the correct syntax is. Today, I’m going to try to solve this problem by writing my own guide to regex.