Creating New Puzzle Pieces: Dr. Joseph Squillace on His New Position at URI

Name: Joseph Squillace
URI Title: Multicultural Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Statistics and Computer Science
Pronouns: he/him/his

Joining the URI community from the West Coast, Dr. Joseph Squillace, Multicultural Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Computer Science and Statistics (CSC), earned his Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of California, Irvine, where the topics in his dissertation were probability theory, combinatorics, and number theory. His decision to work at URI was primarily made due to the university’s unique CSC department. “The joint Computer Science and Statistics department at URI allows for collaboration opportunities for a variety of problems and studies,” he says. “I chose URI due to the fact that my research in probability overlaps with many statistical concepts. I believe in the department’s ability to provide students with the tools needed to thrive in academia or in industry. In addition, the campus and surrounding area is a very beautiful place to live and learn.”

With Fall 2020 coming to a close and Spring 2021 just on the horizon, Squillace looks forward to teaching STA 308: Introductory Statistics. When he isn’t teaching, Squillace looks forward to further pursuing the research interests he explored in his dissertation. “In probability theory, I worked on couplings, which allows one to learn about randomness by constructing probability spaces. I like to think of a coupling as a jigsaw puzzle, in which a certain number of puzzle pieces are provided but not enough of them to complete the puzzle,” he says. “We aim to find all of the ways that we can create new puzzle pieces in order to complete the puzzle; the ways in which this can be done reveals information about the original puzzle pieces. I am most eager to engage in projects that involve Bayesian learning, data science, as well as any new connections between pure mathematics and statistics.”

Now fully immersed in academic life at URI, Squillace has plenty of advice for Arts and Sciences students. “My advice for all students in the liberal arts is the following: practice and repetition is key,” he says. “While reviewing a previous problem or concept, always try to gain something new from it. Learning should be fun (work becomes less intimidating when you enjoy it), so look for ways to stimulate your learning experience if you need more inspiration. Take advantage of all of the resources available (e.g., tutoring, great books, teaching assistants and faculty). In addition to mastering the basics, one of the goals in learning should be to position yourself to solve problems (or to create ideas) that you have not seen before.”

~Written by Chase Hoffman, Writing & Rhetoric and Anthropology Double Major, URI Class of December 2020