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directors corner

Dr. Lizhen Lin

There has never been a better time to be in the fields of statistics and machine learning.

The ubiquity of large and complex data sets in virtually any scientific domain and the need to extract scientific answers from them present statisticians with unique opportunities for developing statistical principles and methods for analyzing such data. Statistics and machine learning also provide learning foundations for the recent advancement in AI technologies that has already shaped many aspects of human life.

With such developments comes career opportunities in industry as well as academia for our students. In carving out a successful career path, first, it would be important to have solid foundational training by taking enough courses in probability, statistics and machine learning, which are offered in our course catalog. Second, strong computational skills are a must. Finally, to be equipped with deep and broad knowledge to  become a real expert, it’s important to dive deep into a thesis topic by making some fundamental contribution in a related field or subfield. Some skills one can develop through working on a solid thesis, such as research vision, and the ability to create new theories and make new discoveries can not be acquired through course work.  

pursuing academia

A Conversation with Dr. Radu Balan 

Professor, University of Maryland Mathematics Department


What inspired you to pursue a career in academia? 
I always loved helping my classmates with their homework. Specifically with their math homework. I had great teachers in high-school, college, and graduate school, who taught me not only science but also how to think critically about what I learn. They inspired me to embark on this journey to discover the world and discover myself in the process.

What specific steps did you take to prepare for and pursue a career in academia? 
I took a slightly unorthodox path to get here. In the early 90’s, I graduated in Romania with a double degree in Electrical Engineering and Physics, but then I continued in the US with a PhD in Applied Mathematics. Life took an interesting turn when, after earning the PhD, I joined industry instead of remaining on a standard academic path. I worked for Siemens at its R&D lab in New Jersey for 8-9 years before I came to UMD. I enjoyed my time there (in fact I still have collaborators from that era), but I also discovered that my heart is truly in academia. During my time at Siemens, I had the opportunity to work with undergraduate and graduate students on various research projects. I was also fortunate for the opportunity to teach in parallel for two years before transitioning to academia. That teaching experience eased the tenure process at UMD. After that, the rest is history. 

What are the most rewarding aspects of being a professor, and what are some of the challenges?
Being a professor does not mean that the learning process is over. On the contrary, every day and in every class I teach, I learn something new. Working with students and postdocs stimulates your mind, while interacting with collaborators outside mathematics brings you to the real world. On the other hand, the world changes, and we need to change with it. One of the biggest challenges is to figure out which change is a fad and which one will really last and alter our way of thinking. 

Can you share any advice for students who aspire to become professors? 
As they say, follow your heart but listen to your mind. While the opportunities I had 25 years ago (e.g., the .com revolution) are no longer present now, the recent past teaches us that opportunities (and challenges) appear all the time. Just do not lose hope!

What are some important skills and qualities that aspiring professors should cultivate as they prepare for a career in academia?
This is a bit hard to say. Sometimes those qualities and skills that make a candidate successful in getting an academic position might not be the same as what will make him/her successful in their academic life. Today, it is not sufficient to be able to prove and solve open conjectures, but it is also important to know how to “sell” yourself.

What is something Math Department students might not know about you?
In mathematics, we like to avoid contradictions and paradoxes. Yet … I do math for a living, but in my heart, I feel I am an engineer. I never learned to play any instrument, but I like to listen to music (particularly, renaissance and baroque music). Perhaps living with contradictions is the biggest challenge of all.

 math dept events

Embark on an epic quest for professional growth with this ultimate career developmentthe calculated career 300 x 300 px 350 x 300 px 240 x 240 px challenge and a chance to win a mystery bag with goodies worth $100.    

Here’s the challenge: 

Throughout the spring semester, you’ll choose your adventure by picking from several professional development activities to conquer. Complete 4 PD activities, and you’ll earn one raffle entry for the mystery bag. Achieve an impressive feat by completing 5 activities, and you’ll double your chances with two raffle entries!  Feeling unstoppable? Take on all 6 activities, and you’ll earn three raffle entries! Your journey awaits!

Download the Quest!


Resume Rx: One-on-One Review Sessions  

Monday, April 8th, 10am-12pm, MATH Room 3103 (AMSC office)

One-on-one resume reviews with staff from the University Career Center and Graduate School Professional Development Office. Open to all AMSC, Math, & Stat grad students. Brunch will be provided.

Students must sign up for one of the twelve 20-minute slots.

Sign up for a time slot

Internship Insights

Wednesday, April 17th, 3:30pm-4:30pm, MATH Room 1310

Want to do an internship but don't know where to start? At this event, you’ll gain valuable insights as fellow Math Department grad students share their internship experiences. Open to all AMSC, Math, & Stat grad students. Drinks & snacks provided.

RSVP by emailing .


campus resource roundup

The Teaching and Learning Transformation Center 


Get to know a career and professional development office on campus.

The Teaching and Learning Transformation Center is a resource center focused on enhancing the quality of teaching and learning at the University. The TLTC provides support to instructors and TAs through a variety of initiatives aimed at empowering instructors/TAs to excel in their roles.


See the services and resources that the TLTC provides TAs:

 alumni success stories

Dr. Stephanie Allen, AMSC '22   

Website: https://sallen7.github.io/#about

Could you briefly describe your current role and responsibilities?
I am part of the senior technical staff at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. I also serve as an assistant project manager and an acting assistant section supervisor at the Lab. I view my primary responsibility as providing mathematical modeling and analysis to government policy makers to help them make informed technical decisions. In my role as an Assistant Project Manager, I accomplish this by doing direct modeling and analysis work as well as managing and guiding teams of people who also perform this modeling analysis. Additionally, in my role as an acting Assistant Section Supervisor, I serve as a resource to technical staff members on matters of tasking, questions about Lab procedures and policies, and goal setting.

What strategies or resources did you find most effective in your job search?
I found doing well at my internship at APL led to my eventual job at APL, so I would advise networking plus internships during graduate school as helpful ways of finding jobs outside of academia. When looking for those internships, I would also be aware of the hiring routines of different industries because certain industries might start recruiting in the fall.

What advice would you give to current students about finding and securing a job in your industry?
I would provide four pieces of advice: 
(a) Try to get at least one internship during graduate school or pursue an equivalent academic research opportunity (such as through AMS or MAA).
(b) Do informational interviews with people in the fields into which you plan to apply. I did informational interviews with someone at a consulting firm and someone in academia before I settled upon APL.
(c) Research different labs/companies/departments you might want to become a part of in order to be prepared to ask good questions during the informational interviews.
(d) Be aware of the hiring routines of different industries and when deadlines occur.

What skills or experiences from your time in the Math Department have been most valuable in your career?
Technical knowledge, presentation skills, leadership skills (refined from being involved in Math department extracurricular leadership roles), and time management skills.

How do you continue to develop professionally and stay competitive in your field?
In order to develop professionally, I seek a variety of work, from synthesizing knowledge at a managerial level to doing more “in the weeds” technical work. This broadens my skill set by allowing me to think both widely and deeply about subjects – to see both the “forest” and the “trees.” I also am willing to step outside of what is comfortable and be uncomfortable, which is important for professional development.

What do you enjoy most about your current job, and what are your future aspirations?
I really enjoy that I get to be part of higher level discussions in my leadership roles but also still am able to do “in the weeds” science as part of the technical staff at APL. I eventually would like to manage an entire project, and I hope to continue to develop my abilities to see the “forest” and the “trees.”

 events around campus


campus resource roundup 2

Math Jobs Page

Access the math jobs listings by clicking the link here.