Yishi Wang

This academic year, University Relations is celebrating five years of We Are UNCW! We have done almost 300 profiles of our outstanding faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends. As part of the celebration, we will have a gallery showcase from August 22 through September 22 in the Boseman Gallery, located in Fisher University Union. We couldn't print hundreds of portraits, of course, but we selected 30 photos to include in the gallery showcase – and we have a digital slideshow to highlight the other 200+ portraits! Some of our profilees have graduated, been promoted or retired, or moved, but we are proud to share these snapshots of who they were at the time that these stories made their “We Are UNCW” debut. We hope you enjoy this look back, and we are looking forward to telling all the stories that lie ahead!


August 28, 2017

UNCW statistics professor Yishi Wang never tires of hearing from former students who are using what they learned from him in their careers. Stats gave him a new perspective on mathematics, which he uses to his advantage when he teaches, including helping students envision career opportunities the field offers.

Wang teaches by “flipping the classroom.” Rather than beginning with methodology and other foundations, he introduces his students to a data-related problem right away.

“I start with real-life applied learning – I like to show them the impact of statistics,” he said. “I want to show them my willingness to help them achieve their career goals.”

In the process, many of his students take a strong interest in the subject and even change or add statistics to their intended majors. Not so long ago, few UNCW students chose statistics as a major.

Today, businesses and industries seek employees with the ability to analyze and act on the data collected by the organization to maximize sales and efficiency and create new products and services. “Statistics help people quantify and understand information,” Wang said. “This is a high-impact and fast-growing area, especially now that we have entered the era of ‘big data.’”

When Wang came to UNCW nine years ago, he said program enrollment was so low that it was in danger of being dropped. “We changed the curriculum to make it easier for students to double major in statistics, while emphasizing fundamental training in mathematics,” he said. In the last seven years, the number of statistics majors enrolled each year has increased from single digits to around 45.

“We are now offering a master’s program in data science, and the master’s program in mathematics is under revision. These initiatives will help UNCW meet industry needs and provide a competitive edge for our students,” he added.

Wang also uses his expertise in statistics and machine learning as a part of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Identity Sciences (I3S), which specializes in research using large databases for identification and intelligence-related projects.

Wang, who grew up in Dalian, China, knows the possibilities for learning are limitless with statistics and he enjoys sharing his passion for the subject with new generations of Seahawks.

-- Tricia Vance