Introducing: New International MA in Statistics

A conversation with the Head of the New International MA in Statistics, Prof. Ori Davidov

Professor Ori Davidov will be the Head of the new International MA in Statistics. Prof. Davidov has been a member of the faulty since 1999 and will teach two courses in the new program.

After completing his Master’s in Statistics from Carnegie Mellon University, Prof. Davidov continued to a doctorate in Biostatistics from Harvard University.

Davidov has held visiting positions at Merck Research Labs, Harvard University and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and his research has been supported by the U.S-Israeli Bi-National Science Foundation (BSF), the Israeli Science Foundation (ISF), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He is an elected Fellow of International Institute of Statistics.

What was your experience being a foreign student abroad?

Prof. Davidov:  I really enjoyed studying abroad.  I enjoyed the changed environment, the weather, the food. I made friends with people from all around the world. It really opened a window to a world I did not know and changed my perspective on what statistics is, what research is about and life in general. As graduate student at Harvard University I had the good fortune to be advised by Professor Marvin Zelen, who would routinely introduce me to people that I never imagined meeting and which led to conversations and experiences that I wouldn’t have otherwise had.

Why do you encourage potential students to study abroad?

Prof. Davidov: Studying abroad is an opportunity to familiarize yourself with a different culture, a different way of thinking. It truly is a once in a lifetime experience. If you don’t do it now, you may not be able fully experience the same kind of immersion and focus at a later, busier, age. I think it was one of the best things I have ever done.

Why should people come study statistics at the University of Haifa?

Prof. Davidov:  The Data Mining and Data Science are growing fields in the modern economy. Statistics skills are listed as the top skills in 2016-2017 in many countries, including United States, Netherlands, China, Canada, Australia, and so on. I truly believe that we have one of the best programs in Israel. Our faculty members are keenly aware of the needs of the 21st century statistician. Our curriculum, as well as our individual research programs, reflect that. We focus on providing our students with tools and skills needed today and the concepts and ideas which will be useful to them tomorrow. We expect our students to find jobs in a variety of settings and industries; as statisticians in the pharmaceutical industry or government, as analysts in financial firms and of course data scientists and big data specialists wherever theses skills are called for. Of course we will be delighted if some students decide to stay with us and decide to pursue a Ph.D. in Statistics.

What advice do you have for potential future students?

Prof. Davidov:  There are many things a successful statistician needs to know, these may change from one type of environment to another and from time to time. For example, the skill set required from a statistician working in a pharmaceutical company is different from the skill set required at an on-line seller. Even within the same industry things may change, even radically, over time. However, the fundamentals, probability, statistical inference and general statistical modelling ideas, as we teach them, are not about to change. So, although, you should be familiar with new tools, methods and buzz words, you should never neglect the basics. These will serve you forever. Other, work and industry specific knowledge is much easier to pick up at a later time, especially on a firm foundation.  Acquiring the fundamentals may be hard work, but it will serve you great deal in your future career.

Students that will choose to study in our department will have the opportunity to join an excellent and focused academic program. At the same time you will be exposed to an extremely interesting country, mixed culture and stimulating learning environment. Located on top of Mount Carmel the campus of the University of Haifa enjoys beautiful views.

Israel is one of the most dynamic societies around, it is steeped in history and at the same time well known for its advanced technology and cutting edge start up mentality. IBM, Google, Intel and Microsoft all have research centers here as do many other leading companies. There is an incredible need for data expertise and bright future for people armed with the right skills. Studying with us can be an important step forward in your career, a step that you will enjoy and that will pay off greatly in the future.

New International MA in Statistics will open in the 2017-2018 academic year. We are currently accepting applications, you can apply here


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