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Biostat to stat after PhD


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If I do a Biostatistics Phd and (hypothetically) publish well, say in good biostat journals like Biometrics, AoAs, Stat Med, etc. , how hard is it to find a *top* postdoc in Statistics and a TT position in a reasonably good stat department after that? By a biostat PhD, I mean in departments outside of Harvard/UW/JHU. I'm new to all this, but I believe that even for a postdoc position in Statistics, more theoretical papers are expected? Please do weigh in! Thanks

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This probably depends on who the postdoc PI is and how well your research jives with theirs. For example, if your research is on causal inference from a Biostat department, you might be able to get a postdoc with someone in a Statistics department who works on causal inference and who is a bit more on the applied side of statistics (e.g. Fan Li at Duke). If you worked on statistical genetics in a Biostat program, you could potentially get a postdoc in Nancy Zhang's lab at UPenn Wharton Statistics. However, unless you've been publishing in top ML conferences and top methodological/theoretical statistics journals, you (probably) can't get a postdoc with say, Michael Jordan or Martin Wainwright of UC Berkeley. It really depends. 

In general, it seems to be a bit more difficult to switch from Biostatistics to Statistics than the other way around, with a few exceptions (e.g. if you got a Biostatistics PhD from Harvard, JHU, UW, or UNC but you happened to work on some statistical theory for your dissertation -- these schools all have biostatistics faculty who are more theoretical and who serve on the editorial boards of Annals of Statistics, JASA Theory & Methods, etc.). But another reason that it is easier to switch from Stat to Biostat is also due to the fact that there are many more postdocs in Biostat than Stat.

Edited by Stat PhD Now Postdoc
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I think a lot of biostatistics students pursue biostats departments because they like it better as opposed to some real constraint. But if you scour through some departments' web sites, you'll find a lot of statistics departments hire biostats trained students (e.g., Florida recently hired two biostatistics-trained PhDs).

I would argue it depends more on your research area than your department. If you're doing ML research, you'll be able to get a postdoc at any ML lab provided you're publishing in good journals.

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Disciplinary boundaries only matter insofar as they influence what you are likely to work on and where you are likely to publish, hence how much your profile will appeal to potential postdoc supervisors.

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