Meet Riya Sheth, FinMath studentĀ 

May 30, 2023

Riya Sheth was born and raised in Mumbai, India. She has been at UChicago for six months, as a Financial Mathematics student. Riya has an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and computer science from the National University of Singapore, and she has worked as a research engineer at the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology. 

We interviewed her about her experiences at UChicago.

1. Why did you choose the University of Chicago? 
The Financial Mathematics program at the University of Chicago is a well-rounded, comprehensive, and practical program. The faculty at FinMath is a perfect blend of academics and industry professionals who give a holistic view of the coursework. Apart from that, the University of Chicago is a school renowned for its academic rigor, intellectual diversity, and vibrant campus life. For these reasons, the University of Chicago was an obvious choice while considering where to pursue my master’s degree. 

2. What have you been studying or researching as part of your program?
Financial Mathematics balances between mathematics, computer science, finance, and data analysis. I have been deep diving into each of these subjects through my coursework. The FinMath program has an initiative called Project Lab which allows students to work with industry partners on their firm’s research projects. I am currently working with Bodhi Research Group on a project pertaining to tail-risk hedging.

3. Please describe something you are proud of accomplishing at UChicago.
I am a part of Wattshift, a start-up founded by a student at the Booth School of Business. One of my proudest accomplishments at UChicago would be to advance into the New Venture Challenge where we are competing with other start-ups to secure about $1.1 million dollars in funding. As an energy trader and data scientist in the team, I was able to learn so much about the start-up culture, business models, and elevator pitches, while still being in touch with engineering, and financial mathematics. 

4. What’s something you love to do outside of the classroom and lab? 
Outside of academics, I thoroughly enjoy filmmaking. I am pursuing an externship with STAGE at UChicago, which is a full-scale laboratory focused on creating and developing new theatre and film work inspired by science and technology. I am currently shooting and editing scenes for a documentary film on Walter Massey for our docuseries ‘Serendipity’. While I am surrounded by numbers on a daily basis, I believe filmmaking is an outlet for my creative juices and I absolutely relish being behind the camera and onset. 

5. What are your plans post-UChicago? 
I would like to pursue a career in the capacity of a Quantitative Trader or Quantitative Researcher. I will be interning with the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) this summer in the role of Quant Developer. I am thoroughly excited to be writing and testing code for the infrastructure of exchanges while understanding the flow of an entire trade, right from its initiation by the trader to its completion. I believe this experience would be invaluable to help me achieve my eventual goal of being a trader in the future. 

6. What support have you received at UChicago that was particularly valuable to you? 
I believe that the Career Development Office (CDO) at FinMath along with my program manager, Meredith, have been invaluable resources at UChicago. It is easy to be overwhelmed with challenging coursework and internship searches–this can be quite tedious and long. However, the CDO office directs you to the necessary resources, alumni networks, and interview preparation materials while providing invaluable guidance, advice, reassurance, and support. My UChicago journey has been much more fruitful, enjoyable, and smooth because of CDO and the ever-helpful Meredith. 

7. If you were speaking to someone who wants to learn about UChicago, what would you tell them? 
UChicago is a place conducive to growth and learning. The academic cooperation, the emphasis on learning and not grades, and the opportunity to be part of interdisciplinary research are something so unique to UChicago. Despite being in the Physical Sciences Division, I was able to be a part of Prof. Jeff Levy’s research at the Harris School of Public Policy. Apart from curricular work, there are a plethora of clubs on campus. All these clubs are very inclusive and enjoyable, students in these clubs are more than willing to share their knowledge with you. For example, I joined the equestrian club without much experience myself, and through all the weekly lessons, I have now progressed to a stage where I am learning how to play polo! 

8. How has your background or experience prepared you to contribute to an environment where diversity and inclusion are valued? 
I have experienced a broad variety of cultures and interacted with people from diverse walks of life – born and raised in Mumbai, lived in Singapore for five years, and did exchange semesters in Hong Kong and Atlanta. These enriching and fulfilling experiences have been pivotal in understanding the importance of appreciating and valuing different perspectives. I view diversity as a positive part of collaboration and a way to broaden my horizons by exposing myself to different viewpoints. I hope to continue learning about different cultures and people at UChicago, where diversity and inclusion are very valued.

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