Valeriy Korostyshevskiy, PhD: An educator, first and foremost.
Associate Professor, Department of Biostatistics, Bioinformatics, Biomathematics;
Director of Graduate Studies
“You have to learn that there is nothing that should stop you from learning.”
At Georgetown University since 2005
An educator first and foremost.
I firmly believe in learning something new every day, both in your area of interest and outside. Personal and professional growth are very enriching and are components of success. And it is a huge thing to see our students walk across the podium at the graduation, dive into the real world, and succeed – as consultants, members of interdisciplinary research teams, and PhD professionals.
A happy coincidence.
I defended my dissertation right around the time my first child was born. A happy coincidence, one might say. But it surely wasn’t looking like that several months before, when virtually nothing was working out on the job search front; I even started questioning myself and choices I made. But, as it turned out, the then Chair of Biostatistics at Georgetown was looking for a postdoc who was “good at programming, good at math, and good at computational analysis.” Long story short, I got the job! One might argue that this was a happy coincidence (and it was), but it made me think, “OK, maybe everything I’ve done in the past five years wasn’t wrong because I got the job based on merit.” That shake-up made me realize that if there is something that you feel may even remotely impact your future, career, family life, your life in general — just do it. Don’t think to yourself, “Oh, this is small” if two years down the line, you look back in retrospect and realize that was “the thing”.
Conquer your fears and open up. Communicate.
Some students may have a fear that their math background may not be adequate or the program is too intense. These things may make them upset, and when I see that in my advisees/students, I remind them that it’s ok to be upset. We get upset by thinking that we can’t understand a concept, and the question we should ask ourselves, how do we overcome this? We may close down and feel like there isn’t anything we can do. Or we may reach out to our colleagues, friends, faculty. Students need to know: We are here to help you in any way we can. Let’s talk and find a way. Let’s communicate. Communication is a key.
The interdisciplinary nature of research.
I am involved in a number of collaborative studies having to do with different sets of non-statistical research. Almost everything requires statistics, which makes research a very rich experience. Its interdisciplinary nature — I have goosebumps as I talk about it — is what makes it cool. You have to be able to work with people from diverse backgrounds on topics that you did not know two weeks ago before you were invited to collaborate. Research makes you read, analyze, and research every day. You can learn something new every day from reading papers or books, from going up to people and doing online research. Every day when you go to work you get to relate what you do professionally, what you encounter in real life, and what other people do – and you get to do it as a group. It’s just amazing.