Graduate Student Spotlight: Lucy Lu

Lucy Lu portraitXinyi (Lucy) Lu is from Beijing, China. She first came to the U.S. in 2013 to study Statistics at Duke University. Lucy says she was “drawn to Colorado by its spectacular mountain ranges and the equally spectacular statistics program at CSU.”  Advised by Dr. Mevin Hooten and funded by the National Park Service, Lucy’s research involves developing novel and interpretable statistical solutions to ecological questions.

In her first years here, Lucy developed a framework that combines methods from applied mathematics and computer science to fuse mechanistic partial differential equations with statistical models in a big data setting.  This work helped understand changes in ecological dynamics of the largest protected tidewater glacier system in the world and is published in Environmetrics.  In another project, Lucy developed a record linkage approach, under the guidance of Dr. Andee Kaplan, to improve estimates of abundance for sea otters in Glacier Bay, Alaska.  This work includes a machine-based unsupervised image stitching algorithm, a notable artificial intelligence innovation.  Finally, Lucy is finishing another manuscript that describes a multivariate spatio-temporal model for landscape transitions in Alaska that have resulted from climate change using aerial photo data acquired decades apart.  These significant pieces of work have led to improvements in optimal monitoring and inference related to the conservation of natural resources in our National Parks.  

Lucy Lu and Hanna McCaslin presenting probability and statistics to female high school students as part of Sonia Kovalevsky Day activities.

Lucy has closely collaborated with a variety of researchers from different fields in her time at CSU, and will have authored or coauthored eight publications by this summer.  Dr. Hooten commented, “I consider myself very lucky to have had the chance to work with her and I know that she will be an excellent ambassador for CSU Statistics in her future career.” In addition to her research contributions, Lucy and her colleague (Hanna McCaslin, CSU Statistics MAS student and FWCB PhD student) developed and taught a workshop on probability and statistics for female high school students as part of the “Sonia Kovalevsky Day” activities in early 2020.  

Outside of graduate school, Lucy spends time refining her photography skills, playing ping pong, and reading Japanese literature.  She also enjoys being engaged in cultures different from her own, and notes that her study in the U.S. has blessed her with friends from all over the world.