Yunkai Zhang selected for NSF GRFP!

by Natalia Diaz Amabilis, PR Assistant 


Congratulations to Yunkai Zhang, a fourth year undergraduate  student at UCSB for being recently selected for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)! This program functions to help ensure the vitality of the human resource base of science and engineering in the United States and reinforces its diversity. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-Supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions. 

Past fellows include numerous Nobel Prize winners, U.S. Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, Google founder, Sergey Brin and Freakonomics co-author, Steven Levitt.

Zhang belongs to the College of Creative Studies and double majoring in Mathematics (BS) and Computing (BS) with a focus on Machine Learning. He has received several offers to competitive PhD programs, but has ultimately decided he will be entering the IEOR (Operations Research) PhD program at UC Berkeley in Fall 2020. 

During his time at UCSB, Zhang has mainly been working on time series analysis since the summer of his second year with Professor Xifeng Yan, who has been very supportive of Zhang’s achievements. In the past, he did the RIPS REU summer program at UCLA after his first year and interned with the People and Spatial Analytics Team at WeWork during the summer of his third year. 

Zhang was also the director and founder of a non-profit math modeling organization called the Association of Computational and Mathematical Modeling (AoCMM) since 2015 that spreads the knowledge of math modeling through creating free online tutorials and hosting annual competitions. 

Zhang’s advice to students with similar interests is to “finish the classes related to your research earlier and save the less related classes until the end so you can start your research earlier.”

We wish Yunkai the best in his pursuit of higher education as we celebrate his excellence in academia.