We asked Lu to share a bit more about his doctoral journey as a Sun Devil.

Question: Why did you choose ASU for your graduate studies?

Answer: I chose ASU because it offered me the opportunity to pursue my dreams.

Q: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study statistics?

A: Actually, it's a process rather than a moment. After a small progress in my study, I can know what do I want next.

Q: What do you like most about statistics?

A: Statistics knowledge helps me to become a problem solver in this “big data” age.

Q: What is something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

A: Think big and work hard. As you step up the ladder of progress, you will find out that the impossible has just become a little bit more possible.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: Professors Robert McCulloch and Steven Saul, they taught me how to do research. During my study, Robert always trusted me with his many great ideas and, at the same time, encouraged me to confidently further develop and explore them in my own ways, always while offering invaluable advice. Steven is my co-adviser, as well as a good friend. Four years ago he introduced me to spatial statistics, which was a total new area for me. Without his inspirational guidance, constant support, and patient encouragement, I would not have graduated on time.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you would give to those still in school?

A: Interest is the best teacher. Find the field that you are most interested in, the sooner the better.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life? 

A: The Noble Library. I think I spent 80% of my time in Noble Library when I was on campus (before the pandemic).

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time for fun?

A: Listening to music, hiking and playing with my five-year-old daughter. Reading story books is her favorite activity. Recently she loves pony stories.

Q: What do you think is most misunderstood about math by the general public?

A: A possible misunderstanding about math by the general public is that they consider math as a set of numbers and formulas. But, actually, math is a language-— the language of the universe. Using math we can then build imaginary systems and model possible behavioral states and properties of real entities, phenomena and objects in the universe.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: Although the budget is far more than enough, the problem that I want to tackle is the threat of artificial intelligence (AI). The AI research is now progressing rapidly. As Stephen Hawking said, "There are no fundamental limits to what can be achieved. Whereas the short-term impact of AI depends on who controls it, the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all." I totally agree with Hawking. For AI, humans have to find ways to improve the chances of reaping the benefits and avoiding the risks.

Rhonda Olson

Manager of Marketing and Communication, School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences