"I aim to make use of my programming, teamwork, and mathematical skills for social good, and have a passion for promoting science within the community."

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Student Profile: Nikola Surjanovic

Statistics master's student in the Faculty of Science

July 10, 2020
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I am a Master's student in Statistics under the supervision of Dr. Thomas Loughin at SFU, with research interests in machine learning and goodness-of-fit. I aim to make use of my programming, teamwork, and mathematical skills for social good, and have a passion for promoting science within the community.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?

I previously completed my undergraduate studies at Simon Fraser University and was very satisfied with the experience. Working on research projects during my undergraduate studies with Dr. Loughin also meant that I could naturally expand upon these ideas by choosing to stay at SFU.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR RESEARCH AND/OR PROGRAM.

Statisticians like to model various phenomena. It can happen that a model fits the training data well but makes poor predictions for test data. There are several ways to avoid this problem, some of which are more computationally efficient than others. Basically, my research lies in constructing “good” machine learning models efficiently, by making use of tools such as information criteria and goodness-of-fit tests. I am also interested in making accurate predictions with heteroscedastic (non-constant variance) data. Heteroscedasticity is quite common in real data, but its presence can be overlooked in practice.

WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYING ABOUT YOUR STUDIES/RESEARCH AT SFU?

I have found that the professors are very approachable and are willing to offer advice or to work on various projects with students.

HAVE YOU BEEN THE RECIPIENT OF ANY MAJOR OR DONOR FUNDED AWARDS?

I am a recipient of the Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship (Master's level) of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), as well as a recipient of the Governor General’s Silver Medal. I previously held the Simon Fraser Major Entrance Scholarship. I am very grateful for receiving such awards, because they allow me to spend more time on my studies and research.

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE?

I have more information on my website at http://www.sfu.ca/~nsurjano/. Aside from machine learning and goodness-of-fit, I am also interested in sports analytics and musical acoustics. Please let me know if you would like to work on a project together!