March 9, 2021
Ahmed Bou-Rabee was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and spent the first half of his life in Kuwait and the second in the United States, mostly in California. Before coming to the University of Chicago, he received an undergraduate degree in math and a master’s degree in statistics from Stanford. He has been at UChicago for five years as a doctoral student in the statistics program.
Ahmed studies probability and partial differential equations. His research so far has been on the Abelian sandpile, which he describes as “a model from statistical physics with beautiful pictures and also deep connections to vast swaths of math.” We interviewed Ahmed about his experiences below.
Why did you choose the University of Chicago?
I asked my undergraduate mentors at Stanford and they wholeheartedly recommended University of Chicago for its academic rigor and brilliant faculty.
What is something you are proud of accomplishing here?
I am happy to have written some research articles in the last two years. It was also exciting to give talks about my work at seminars and conferences outside of UChicago. This wouldn’t have been possible without my advisor and the probability community here.
What’s something you love to do outside of the classroom and lab?
I enjoy playing tennis. UChicago has a friendly, active tennis club. (We even have access to indoor courts in the winter!)
What are your plans post-graduation?
I hope to continue in academia and will apply for postdoctoral positions in the upcoming cycle.
What support have you received at UChicago that was particularly valuable to you?
I’ve received a lot of support from my advisor. Our regular conversations have been an anchor in the tumultuous seas of graduate school. As a whole, UChicago faculty have always been friendly and available.
If you were speaking to someone who wants to learn about UChicago, what would you tell them?
I came to UChicago not knowing exactly what I wanted to do research in. In my first two years at the University, I had the opportunity to learn from several world-renowned faculty and hone my research interests. There is a wide breadth of expertise at UChicago, and so I could choose a dissertation topic I was passionate about from among many options.
How has your background or experience prepared you to contribute to an environment where diversity and inclusion are valued?
I strongly believe that diversity is necessary in science. I have been fortunate enough to travel to different countries and learn from others with distinct life experiences and beliefs. I’ve observed a human aspect to scholarship which is enriched by those with varying backgrounds and ideas.