November 14, 2023 | News | New faces at MPIDR

Welcome, Irena Chen!

Irena Chen joins the team of the Laboratory of Population Dynamics and Sustainable Well-Being. © MPIDR/Schulz

The Laboratory of Population Dynamics and Sustainable Well-Being welcomes Irena Chen as a new team member. Irena comes from the University of Michigan, where she received her PhD in Biostatistics. The title of her dissertation is: "Joint Modeling Methods for Individual-level Variances as Predictors of Health Outcomes." Prior to UM, Irena worked as a data analyst for the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle, Washington. Over the next three years, Irena plans to focus on Bayesian hierarchical models, correlated time series, and latent variable methods with applications in demography, epidemiology, and precision medicine.

What’s your job at MPIDR and how long will you be working here?
I am a postdoctoral Research Scientist and my contract is for three years.

What is your motivation to work in this field of research?
I am interested in developing statistical models and methods to answer questions related to public health and individualized outcomes. In an ideal world, everyone would be able to have a long and healthy life and I want to support research for this goal.

Why did you choose MPIDR as your new employer?
I was very impressed by the insightful and innovative research groups here, and also by the environment at MPIDR: everyone is very collaborative and welcoming and I knew I wanted something like this for my postdoc studies.  

Where are you from? What do you miss most about home (and maybe: what don’t you miss at all)?
I am originally from Seattle, Washington, but came to Rostock via Ann Arbor, Michigan. As a fan of rock climbing, I miss being close to mountains! But I do not miss the crazy cost of living in both Seattle and Ann Arbor.

What is your favorite and what is your least favorite part about work?
My favorite part about work is getting to interact with all of the awesome people at the Institute. My least favorite part is being on the 3rd floor (4th floor for us Americans), but at least I’m getting some extra calf training every time I take the stairs... 


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The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.