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Student Profiles

Yifei Huang

I am a Ph.D. candidate in statistics at UIC and I am interested in optimal design theories in experimental design and their applications in healthcare, engineering, and big data. I am also interested in clinical trial design and biostatistics. Before I joined UIC I received my MS in physical sciences at the University of Chicago, where I conducted computer simulations to study molecule movements and structures. During this process, I developed an interest in statistics and I was excited to join the UIC community. Everyone in the program is warm and welcoming, and I also appreciate the diversity here. UIC is one of the most diverse universities in the US. Besides, I have also had a lot of great opportunities to be exposed to different research and industry internships to explore my future career options after graduation.

Yifei Huang
Johnny Joyce

I am a third-year PhD student and I am interested in the mathematics of machine learning. I find various sub-areas particularly interesting, such as how to employ strategies when learning and how to protect against attacks. Before starting my PhD, I did a BS in math and an MS in artificial intelligence in my home country, the UK. During that time, I went on an exchange year at UIC as an undergraduate — I was highly eager to return to UIC ever since, and I’m thrilled to be back! UIC’s community has always been welcoming and kind. Being at UIC has given me great opportunities I couldn’t have gotten otherwise, like working at Chicago’s Museum of Science & Industry, teaching over the summer, and receiving training for internships in industry.

Johnny Joyce  |
Jennifer Vaccaro

I’m a third-year Pure Math PhD student here at UIC. My research interests are in geometry and topology, and I want to write software to generate mathematical examples and visualizations. Outside of teaching and classes, I organize the undergraduate COMAP Mathematical Competition in Modeling at UIC, and I’m involved with the Association of Women in Mathematics. Before UIC, I studied electrical and computer engineering at Olin College of Engineering. However, my favorite courses were math, and I got involved in a math research project involving hyperbolic geometry. After undergrad, I worked for a few years writing software for deep ocean robots at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Working before graduate school was the right choice for me, and our department is very welcoming to students with a variety of math interests and backgrounds.

Jennifer Vaccaro  |
Kevin Zhou

I am a fifth-year PhD student studying mathematical logic and model theory under the supervision of Professor James Freitag. In particular, I am interested in the interactions between model theory, combinatorics, and machine learning. One example of the surprising overlap between these fields is in the correspondence between various combinatorial dividing lines in first-order classification theory (a key area of study in model theory) and notions of learnability. My work is focused on leveraging these correspondences and using ideas from model theory to solve problems in learning theory, and vice versa. Aside from research, I’m also very interested in the teaching of mathematics. I’ve taught my own independent workshops as part of the Emerging Scholars Program, and have also been involved with Math Circles of Chicago, which is an organization that runs free after-school math programs all around Chicago. Outside of math, I love to read, make music, and play video games, and I am also very involved in my local church.

Kevin Zhou  |