Alicia Specht


1.  What interested you in the doctoral program in Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics at Notre Dame?

Initially I was attracted to the ACMS program at Notre Dame because of the research being performed here--particularly in statistics. After visiting, it was clear that it was a program filled with great people interested in teaching and learning.

2.  What was the best part of the program?

The best part is the department's encouragement to graduate students to take on internships, workshops and teaching experiences over the summer. It really helped me personally decide between a career in academia or industry, and gave me the experience to successfully acquire a job upon graduating.

3.  Tell us about your doctoral thesis.

My doctoral thesis focused on methods for constructing networks using non-Gaussian data, such as is generated by RNA-sequencing. These networks can then be used to infer gene functions and regulatory relationships.

4.  What are you working on now?

I'm working on constructing networks using the data generated by single-cell RNA-sequencing, which allows researchers to measure gene expression for cells individually. These networks could help us better understand the heterogeneous nature of certain tumors.

5.  How did the program prepare you for your career?

The program allowed me to not only develop as a researcher, but also gave me the opportunity to teach summer statistics courses, improving my skills as an instructor.

6.  What are your career plans for the near future?

I have accepted a tenure-track assistant professor position in the mathematics department at Bryant University. There, I will be equally focused on teaching and research.

7.  What advice would you give to students considering the program?
The most important thing is to make sure that there is a faculty member performing research you are excited about and who you believe you will work well with. For this reason, definitely visit if you can!