Biostatistics Union of Graduate Students

bugslogoThis website is intended to provide additional resources for the Biostatistics Union of Graduate Students (BUGS) at the Division of Biostatistics, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto.



Recent Events and Student Accomplishments


FLTR: Larry Dong, Thai-Son Tang, Rose Garrett

Larry Dong (PhD, Year 1) is a 2021 Google Summer of Code Research Intern, where he is working on developing a Dirichlet Process submodule. Thai-Son Tang (PhD, Year 3) is the recipient of the 2021 Paul Corey Award for Excellence in Biostatistics, and Rose Garrett (PhD, Year 3) is the recipient of the 2021 John Hsieh Award.


Congratulations to this year’s winners of the Paul Corey Award!

FLTR: (Top) Jessica Cichon, Lena Nguyen, Qiao Li
(Bottom) Katrina Hueniken, Larry Dong

1st Place: Jessica Cichon (MSc)
2nd Place: Lena Nguyen (MSc)
3rd Place: Qiao Li (MSc)
Honourable Mentions: Katrina Hueniken (MSc), Larry Dong (PhD, Year 1)

This year’s Biostatistics Research Day features around 40 speed poster presentations over three 90-minute blocks.

May 18 (Tuesday)
12:00-1:30pm (EDT): Speed Poster Presentation I
2:00-3:30pm (EDT): Speed Poster Presentation II

May 19 (Wednesday)
12:30-2:00pm (EDT): : Speed Poster Presentation III
2:00-3:00pm (EDT): Informal Social/Networking
3:00-3:30pm (EDT):  Paul Corey Awards announcements & Closing Remarks.

Location: Zoom

You are invited to attend the presentations whenever you are available. As in previous years, the best three posters will be awarded with cash prizes at the closing session. As a special note, we will present the first of the four new Paul Corey Awards that were established last fall (see here).

Prof. Paul Corey will be presenting the Paul Corey Poster Awards at 3pm on Wednesday. He and his family are also planning to join the Informal Social (2-3pm) prior to the award announcements.

Lunar New Year & Valentine’s Social

Date: Thursday, February 11, 2021
Time: 4:30pm-6:30pm (EDT)
Zoom link:

Once everyone arrives, we will create smaller breakout rooms and give everyone the ability to move to around different rooms so that you can get a chance to socialize with everyone.

We also encourage you to change your Zoom backgrounds to something Lunar New Year or Valentine’s themed to help create the setting.

We hope to see you all there!

Inaugural BUGS Minigame Thursday!


Hosted by: Larry Dong
Time: Thursday, 8pm-10pm (EDT)
Zoom link:

Dear biostat friends,

The Biostatistics Union of Graduate Students (BUGS) would like to invite you to BUGS Minigame Thursday! This weekly online meet-up would serve as an opportunity to get together and play a few games (e.g. Among Us, Overcooked, Skribbl, Setwithfriends, etc.). We understand that remote learning can be challenging as winter is approaching, so why not follow each other in colourful spacesuits and accuse each other of being suspicious?

BUGS Minigame Thursdays are scheduled every Thursdays from 8pm to 10pm EST as of next Thursday, October 15, until the end of the semester. For those who are interested, we can do a quick poll what games a day or two ahead of time to see you would like to play and have breakout rooms accordingly. If many enjoy this event, we can schedule other get togethers at other times to accommodate people who are in different time zones.

Looking forward to seeing you on Thursdays!! 🙂

For real pls come

SORA-TABA Workshop

Theme: “Statistical Machine Learning for Biomedical Data”

Date: August 20-21, 2020
Time: 11am-5:30pm (EDT)
Registration: Link

Dr. Noah Simon from the University of Washington will present a 1-day intensive workshop. You’ll learn about how traditional statistical methods like logistic regression can be used for high dimensional data (data with many variables) and then move onto machine learning methods such as random forests, support vector machines, (gradient) boosting using trees and neural networks. New machine learning methods will be related to more classical statistical approaches – all designed for an audience with familiarity with statistical approaches and discussed in the context of biomedical big data and predictive modeling.


Scholarship Information Session, August 6, 2020.

BUGS hosted an informal information session on scholarships and funding opportunities for biostatistics students within the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. Primarily, we provide information on the main federal and provincial scholarships: NSERC, CIHR and OGS/QEII. This session is relevant for both domestic and international students.

Unlike more general workshops offered by the university that focus on proposal writing, we want to provide you this information through a biostatistics student’s perspective. Our goal is to equip you with all the sufficient information in time for the scholarship deadlines in September/October and encourage you all (if not, then most) to apply for these awards.

Date: Thursday, August 6, 2020
Time: 12pm – 1pm (Eastern Time)
Location: Zoom

In the 1-hour information session, we’ll be going through general information in the first 40 minutes, followed by 20 minutes of informal Q&A. Three current biostatistics PhD students will be present to share their experiences.

Sumeet Kalia, Year 4 (NSERC)
Erik Lovblom, Year 3 (CIHR)
Thai-Son Tang, Year 3 (QEII)


International Genetic Epidemiology Society (IGES) 2020, July 3, 2020.

Dongyang Yang (PhD, Year 2) is one of three William’s finalists at this year’s International Genetic Epidemiology Society (IGES) 2020 meeting, presenting her work on “Clustering of Human Microbiome Sequencing Data: A Distance-Based Unsupervised Learning Model” under the supervision of Dr. Wei Xu (Princess Margaret Cancer Centre). Her talk can be found here.



Congratulations to this year’s winners of the Paul Corey Award!

FLTR: Yuan (Kris) Bian, Pai-Shan (Jason) Cheng, Boxi Lin

1st Place: Yuan (Kris) Bian (MSc, Thesis-Track)
2nd Place: Pai-Shan (Jason) Cheng (PhD, Year 2)
3rd Place: Boxi Lin (PhD, Year 1)
Honourable Mentions: Madeline Ward (UofGuelph), Linda Luu (MSc, Year 1)

DLSPH Biostatistics Research Day 2020

This year the Biostatistics Research Day poster presentations, which would ordinarily have taken place in-person at the 2020 SORA/TABA Annual Workshop & DLSPH Biostatistics Research Day on May 22nd, will be hosted online over three sessions during the week of June 15th.

The virtual poster presentation sessions will be held on:

  • Wednesday, June 17th: 10-11:30am
  • Thursday, June 18th: 10-11:30am
  • Thursday, June 18th: 3-4:30pm

Program Booklet

If you have any questions, please contact Ryan Rosner at

Recent Student Award Winners, June 6, 2020.

FLTR: (Top) Kuan Liu, Thai-Son Tang, Rose Garrett, Alex Bushby
(Bottom) Jerry Lin, Kaviul Khan, Michael Moon, Boxi Lin

Kuan Liu (PhD, Year 5) is the recipient of this year’s Beverly Antle Trainee Award  that recognizes “excellence in research and knowledge translation for first-authored research conducted by trainees”, provided by the CHES Education Committee at The Hospital for Sick Children. Thai-Son Tang (PhD, Year 2) is the recipient of the 2020-2021 Queen Elizabeth II/Sanofi/John G FitzGerald Graduate Scholarships in Science and Technology.

This year, four teams from the Biostatistics Division have both received the $3000 University of Toronto COVID-19 Student Engagement Award to fund their COVID-19 research projects. Kuan and Thai-Son, along with Rose Garrett (PhD, Year 2) and Alexandra Bushby (PhD, Year 1) will be  “Using Data Visualization and Crowdsourcing Survey to study COVID-19 Testing Capacity, Protocol, and Barriers in Canada.” Jerry Lin (PhD, Year 3) and Boxi Lin (PhD, Year 1) will be conducting research on “What Causes Elevated Risk in COVID-19? Discover Exposure & Genetic Factors at Play.” Jerry, Thai-Son, Kaviul Khan (PhD, Year 3), and Michael Moon (MSc Grad, Stats PhD, Year 2) will be “Assessing the global effect of public health interventions on COVID-19 pandemic growth and unemployment.” Jianhui Gao (MSc, Year 1) is also involved with 3 other students in “Quantifying effects of community based public health measures in controlling COVID-19 epidemics: a comparative modeling study in China, Iceland, Italy and Canada.” Congratulations to our amazing students!

See also: “15 DLSPH Student-​Led Projects Win U of T’s COVID-​19 Student Engagement Award” (DLSPH Article)

SSC 2020 Case Study Competition, June 1, 2020.

FLTR: Shuting Lou, Michael Prashad, Ashley Mao, Amin Kharaghani.

Shuting Lou (MSc Biostatistics), Michael Prashad (MSc Biostatistics), Ashley Mao (MSc Biostatistics), and Amin Kharaghani (MSc Biostatistics), advised by Dr. Wendy Lou, received honourable mentions for the Best Student Case Study Poster award at the 48th Annual Meeting of the Statistical Society of Canada on June 1, 2020 for their poster titled, “From time series models to neural networks: predicting energy usage in Ontario.” Congratulations everyone!


2020 Canadian Statistics Student Conference, May 30, 2020.
The organizing committee of the 8th Annual Canadian Statistics Student Conference.

Congratulations to Thai-Son Tang (PhD, Y2), Sudipta Saha (PhD, Y5), Michela Panarella (MSc Grad), Gengming He (PhD, Y2), and Dongyang Yang (PhD, Y2) for organizing an amazing online statistics student conference.

Photo Gallery (courtesy of Dr. Peter Macdonald)

Congratulations to Dr. Zihang Lu and Dr. Mohsen Soltanifar!

Congratulations to Dr. Mohsen Soltanifar (left) and Dr. Zihang Lu (right) for successfully defending their PhD Oral Defense! Mohsen’s dissertation was on “Stop Signal Reaction Times: New Estimations with Longitudinal, Bayesian and Time Series based Methods” under the supervision of Dr. Michael Escobar and Dr. Annie Dupuis. Zihang’s dissertation was on “Bayesian Growth Mixture Model for Clustering Longitudinal Data” under the supervision of Dr. Wendy Lou and Dr. Padmaja Subbarao. All the best on your future endeavors!

Introduction to optimization and parallel processing in R, March 6, 2020.

Osvaldo-Espin Garcia is a senior biostatistician within the Department of Biostatistics of Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. Osvaldo recently completed his PhD in Biostatistics from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto on “Advances in Incomplete Data Methods for Statistical Genetics” with research interests in methods development for statistical genetics, design and analysis of two-phase studies, as well as the analysis of microbiome data.

This workshop will cover optimization and parallel processing in R. The workshop will take place in a computer lab, therefore computers will be available for those wishing to follow along. However, you are most welcome to bring your own laptop for this event.

Division of Biostatistics Dumpling’s Night, The Winding Road, February 12, 2020.

Lunar New Year’s celebration with faculty, students and alumni. Wendy with her annual tradition of giving out red pockets!

Division of Biostatistics Holiday Party, Fran’s Upper Deck, December 10, 2019.Thank you everyone for coming out and celebrating the end of the semester with us! Be sure to keep an eye out for more events coming in the new year.

Introduction to MCMC and Bayesian modeling with WinBUGS

Omid Aghababaei Jazi is a postdoctoral fellow working with Dr. Eleanor Pullenayegum within Child Health Evaluative Sciences at The Hospital for Sick Children. Omid obtained his PhD in Statistics from McGill University in 2019 with research focuses on longitudinal data analysis, biased sampling and variable selection methods.

Mixing R and C++: an introductory tutorial for (bio)statistics students

Luc Villandré is a postdoctoral fellow working with Dr. Patrick Brown at the Centre for Global Health Research. Luc obtained his PhD in Biostatistics from McGill University in 2018 and has been using R for over 15 years, as well as Rcpp for the last 8 years. His current work focuses on scalable Bayesian methods for spatiotemporal data.

  • Speaker: Luc Villandré
  • Date: Friday, November 8, 2019
  • Time: 2pm-4pm
  • Location: Room 696, Health Sciences Building, 155 College Street

Division of Biostatistics Halloween Potluck, Health Sciences Building, October 31, 2019.Thank you to everyone who came out and to those who brought food. We hope everyone had fun, and look forward to seeing you at our next event!

Division of Biostatistics Welcome Picnic, High Park Picnic Area #24, September 21, 2019.

Thanks again to those that came out to the Welcome Picnic on Saturday! We had a great turn out his year and hopefully you’ve all gotten a chance to get to know your peers, upper year students and professors a little bit more!

2019 Biostatistics Bootcamp, Health Sciences Building, Toronto. September 7-8, 2019.

Thank you to all the incoming MSc/PhD students who attended the bootcamp, as well as faculty and volunteers whom took time out of their weekend to make this 2-day workshop possible!