The Ball Is in His Court: Andres Alban '16 Will Begin Ph.D. Studies in France

Student-athlete Andres Alban '16 of Bogota, Colombia, will attend INSEAD, a business school in Fontainebleau, France, in the fall.

Andres Alban aspired to attend a university with strong science and engineering programs where he also could continue playing tennis. For Alban, an Albert Dorman Honors College scholar who will receive his B.S. in applied math and physics at NJIT’s 100th commencement ceremony May 17, 2016, the decision to attend NJIT has culminated in his acceptance to a Ph.D. program with full support at INSEAD, a business school in Fontainebleau, France, with a #1 ranked global MBA program.

“NJIT was the best choice where I could pursue my academic and athletic goals,” Alban recalls. The Honors College was an additional factor in my decision to attend NJIT.”

A native of Bogota, Colombia, Alban has earned a GPA of 3.98 and is captain of the NJIT tennis team. He says that his double major in applied mathematics and physics has provided him with a “great background for further studies” and the Albert Dorman Honors College has enhanced this experience.

“Even though tennis sometimes conflicts with my studies, it has improved my time management and leadership skills, as well as my work ethics and discipline,” he says. “I have had many other experiences that have helped me develop to become a good candidate for a Ph.D., such as my job at the math tutoring center.”

In addition to his time on the tennis court, Alban has served as Student Athlete Advisory Committee representative from 2013-present; a member of the Pi Mu Epsilon Mathematics Honor Society; and the Chi Alpha Sigma National College Athlete Honor Society. He received the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Scholar Athlete Award in 2014 and 2015. He says that his undergraduate research experience in the NJIT Provost’s Undergraduate Summer Research Program in 2014 and 2015 was the major factor in his decision to pursue a Ph.D.

“All in all, the undergraduate research experience was an excellent preparation,” Alban says. “The people I met during the program were essential in my decision to pursue the Ph.D. in France.”

Two of those people are Alban’s faculty adviser, Computer Sciences Professor Marvin Nakayama, and Associate Professor of Mathematical Sciences David Horntrop, who invited Alban to join EXTREEMS-QED (Expeditions in Training, Research, and Education for Mathematics and Statistics through Quantitative Explorations of Data), the department’s program for undergraduate research in the modeling and simulation of complex systems and the computational analysis of data. During his participation in EXTREEMS-QED, Alban was mentored by Professor Marvin Nakayama, who also gave him very important advice and introduced him to the Ph.D. program in France.

“I was not planning to study at a business school, but Professor Nakayama told me about this project that was looking for Ph.D. students to study health care analytics,” Alban says. “I got interested in the project and looked into the management Ph.D. program. I liked the school and the program and decided to apply. This program also has an emphasis in mathematical methods, which was my main interest for a Ph.D. program. I now feel prepared for the challenge of a Ph.D. and I am sure that a career in research is something I would enjoy.”

Alban, Nakayama, Hardik Darji ’16 and Atsuki Imamura ’17 recently submitted a conference paper that devises new, efficient Monte Carlo methods to evaluate risk with applications to safety analyses of nuclear power plants. They also are finishing another paper to be submitted to a journal. This work has been funded by the National Science Foundation.

“Working with Andres on a research project has been great,” Nakayama says. “He took on a leadership role in the group of three undergrads that I was supervising, and he made terrific contributions on the project. He quickly picked up new concepts and came up with interesting ideas to investigate.”

“During my interview with Andres for the EXTREEMS-QED program, I was very impressed with his polite nature, his sincere interest in scientific research, and his obvious intellectual curiosity,” Horntrop says. “His terrific performance in the EXTREEMS-QED program reflects the depth of his natural ability in addition to his dedication to and hard work in all of his endeavors. Andres has been a truly outstanding student at NJIT; I am confident that Andres will continue to be highly successful in his graduate studies and look forward to hearing of his future accomplishments.”

Looking back on the past four years, Alban says that his friends have been a very important part in his undergraduate years.

“They have helped me succeed in all of my activities and have made it very enjoyable,” Alban says. “I have had friends from so many different cultures and have learned a lot from all of them.”

By Christina Crovetto 
crovetto@njit.edu