Wanted to continue teaching and researching

Jolanta Pielaszkiewicz received her PhD in 2015 after five years of doctoral studies at MAI. Today she works as a lecturera in statistics at the Department of Computer Science (IDA).

Jolanta Pielaszkiewicz former PhD student at MAI.

What did you do before you started your PhD?

I studied financial mathematics for five years in my home country, Poland. My last year I studied at Halmstad University where I obtained a Master's degree. After my studies, I worked for a year as an assistant professor in Poland. I was offered a PhD in Poland but I wanted to continue my education abroad. When I saw that MAI was advertising for PhD students, I applied and got an interview.

Why did you choose to do a PhD?

I have always found mathematics exciting. During my studies, I discovered that mathematics is so much more than calculations. I had an affinity for mathematics and started getting involved in research-related activities. Research studies seemed like a natural next step.

What do you do when you study to obtain your PhD?

You study and do research. At MAI, you have to pass 120 credits of doctoral level courses and write and present a dissertation worth 120 credits. In my case, the dissertation included four research articles. You also have to be able to present and discuss your results at international conferences. At MAI you also can teach 20% that extends your employment from 4 to 5 years. When I started my PhD at MAI, it was not decided which project I would do research on. I had to find my own path together with my supervisor.

What is the best thing about doing a PhD?

The best thing is that you get to work on what you are really interested in. It's work you can almost completely influence what you want to do.

What is the most difficult part of doing a PhD?

It's that you have ongoing projects all the time. You can finish the actual writing but sometimes you have to wait up to a year before you get feedback and a decision on whether the paper is accepted for publication. I can miss the actual feeling of knowing that I've really finished a project. When you get feedback so late, it's like someone saying happy birthday a month too late!

What is important to consider when choosing where to do your PhD?

Usually it's not the university that's the most important thing, but the project you're going to be involved in. The most important thing is that you get to do research on something you are interested in. It also helps if you click with your supervisors and your project team.

What qualities are good to have if you want to do a PhD?

It's good to be independent and driven. You should also be able to build up a network of contacts. As a PhD student, there are great opportunities to go abroad to conferences and meet other researchers. It makes a difference to be in such an environment with people with similar interests to learn more but also to make new contacts that can lead to future collaborations.

You are still at LiU, can you tell us what you are working on now?

Yes that's right. After my PhD, I worked as a post-doc at Linnaeus University and then I worked as a lecturer at Stockholm University. In 2019, I decided to come back to Linköping and now I work as a senior lecturer in statistics at the Department of Computer Science. I am also the director of studies at the department.

Why did you decide to stay in academia?

It was obvious. During my third year as a PhD student, I started teaching and felt that it was something that suited me. Teaching is a lot of fun. I also appreciate that there are great opportunities to make an impact in my work and that you can develop yourself in many areas.

Do you do research in your current position? If so, can you tell us what you are researching?

Yes, I do. My last paper was an international collaboration with researchers from Slovakia and Poland where we prove that some specific test statistics can be approximated by the normal distribution which makes tests easy to perform even in high dimensional regime.

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