Interview with Assistant Professor Rajarshi Mukherjee

Rajarshi Mukherjee is returning to the Department after receiving his PhD here in 2014, and spending the past few years at Stanford University and the Berkeley School of Public Health. He has now joined the Harvard Chan faculty as Assistant Professor of Biostatistics.

We asked Rajarshi a few questions to catch up on his career path, his plans for the future, and his life back in Boston.

What led to your decision to join Harvard Biostats?

I was a graduate student here and since then it has been a dream to come back and contribute. Moreover, Harvard Biostatistics being located in Boston is at the center of incredible research and collaborative opportunities.

Where did you grow up? Can you point to something in your life that may have influenced your decision to study biostatistics?

I grew up in Kolkata, India. It is there at Indian Statistical Institute that I did my bachelors and masters in Statistics. During my master’s studies, I enrolled in a couple of very interesting statistical genetics courses – which kindled my interest in Biostatistics.

What was your previous educational and work experience before joining the Department?

I obtained my Bachelor and Masters in Statistics from Indian Statistical Institute before joining the Harvard Biostatistics Ph.D. program in 2009. Subsequently, I earned my Ph.D. in 2014 and joined the Department of Statistics at Stanford University as a Stein Fellow. After my stay at Stanford, I was an Assistant Professor in the Division of Biostatistics at UC Berkeley for a year in 2017-2018.

What are your main responsibilities in the Department?

I will be teaching the graduate level Advanced Regression and Statistical Learning course (Bio 235) in Fall 2018. I am also responsible for and looking forward to being a part of mentoring graduate students in the department. Finally, I am trying to gather momentum to start a reading group in my broader research area.

What do you enjoy most about your job so far and what research directions are you planning to pursue?

I enjoy learning new things and especially understanding how different disciplines and research directions can contribute together to the development of a subject. As for research directions, my current interests include sparse signal detection problems arising from next-generation sequence association studies, inference on networks and related dependent systems, and statistical inference in the context of observational studies. I am also trying to learn statistical issues in environmental health research and exploring collaborations with neuroscientists to understand how my research can be made applicable to these disciplines.

What do you enjoy outside of work?

The thing I like to do most outside work is hiking. In Boston, the Blue Hills are easily accessible by the commuter system and I simply take the T, whenever possible, and spend the whole day there. I am also planning on taking courses in climbing/bouldering if time permits. Additionally, I am getting more and more invested in exploring the world high fantasy literature.