PhD, Mathematical Sciences, 2010
Current job/field: Research Statistical Analyst
Employer: Abbott Laboratories
Born in Dandong, China, a small and beautiful city in Liaoning Province, Xiaoqi (Heidi) Cui says she is accustomed to cold weather. "Winters in Houghton were not a big shock to me," she says. "There is not as much snow in my hometown as there is in Houghton, though. I love how white and pure the snow in Houghton is."
Cui arrived in Houghton in 2004 to study statistics as a doctoral student, after completing her bachelor’s degree in applied math at Dalian University of Technology in Dalian, China. Cui’s dissertation research focuses on developing efficient statistical and computational methods to identify gene-to-gene interactions that affect certain complex human diseases. Her research moves on to locate gene regulators that are critical in a biological process.
"The field I am most interested in is human health, and I work to apply my mathematical and statistical knowledge to help find critical factors that can affect complex human diseases," Cui explains. "My goal is for my research to contribute to the development of effective drugs to treat those diseases."
Cui has always been good at math and logic, and even as a child she earned several honors and awards in math competitions at school. While at Michigan Tech, she developed an interest in statistical genetics as a way to contribute to solving human health problems. "Whether working in academia or industry, I want to be able to use my mathematics and statistics knowledge to help people solve real-world problems," Cui emphasizes.
Cui strives to make a difference in the world. Since completing her doctoral work at Michigan Tech, Cui has been employed at Abbott Laboratories, a pharmaceutical company located north of Chicago. Her work in the Biostatistics and Data Management Department focuses on exploring new statistical methods to support Abbott’s pharmaceutical research and development.
"My graduate work at Michigan Tech has helped to build a strong foundation for my research and work," Cui says.
But research wasn’t the only thing that drew Cui to the University. "Michigan Tech’s math department provides graduate students with opportunities to teach, not as just a teaching assistant but as an instructor," she says. "This was an exciting experience for me as it helped to improve my confidence in my English communication."
Outside her professional and research life, Cui enjoys participating in aerobics and running, as well as cooking. Her family is a strong support to her as well, "My husband, my grandma, and my parents always give me boundless love and support. I owe them a lot."
"Whatever I’m doing, I believe, ‘Small changes make a big difference,’" Cui says. "This belief works well in both my research and in my everyday life."
Xiaoqi (Heidi) Cui