Insight Diversity: IWD 2023 – Iuliia Promskaia on her journey from Siberia to Insight

Submitted on Friday, 17/03/2023

Iuliia (Yulia) Promskaia

I am originally Russian, coming from a small mining town in Siberia. I moved to England on my own as a teenager, and this experience shaped my personality and my aspirations. I am currently in my third year of PhD in Statistics.

What inspired you to pursue a career in research, and how did you get started in your field?

As a woman born and raised in a developing country, research wasn’t on my radar for a good while. I didn’t know any adults growing up who had a PhD or any research experience or career. Being an academic there is still not considered prestigious, and only limited research is done in the industry. When I moved to the UK on my own in my middle teens, I started to realise that there was a much wider spectrum of career options available to me in the West that I had never seen before. Although I had started university with the idea of becoming an economist and going into consulting, in the second year of my undergraduate degree I realised that I wasn’t feeling particularly passionate about it. I was leaning more and more towards statistics that was a big part of my course. At that time I was taking a statistics module taught by one of the best lecturers I’ve ever had, and his enthusiasm was contagious. Even though the major part of the module was theoretical, he would always give real-world examples to show us WHY we were studying the theory. He would collect data in our class and use it as one of his examples. He inspired me to try out statistics research, so I went on to do a research internship that summer working in the area of epidemic modelling. Once my internship was complete, I was certain that I wanted to pursue a PhD in statistics. I read statistics for my masters, purposefully picking the most challenging modules on offer to make sure I had the most in-depth knowledge in preparation for my future PhD. When I had to choose my masters thesis topic, I decided to go with something that was not covered in any modules that my university offered as I saw it as a good way to explore the unfamiliar territory – this is how I started working with statistical networks that are now one of my main research interests and a major part of my PhD research.