Luke Hagar named GRADflix finalist

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Mathematics master’s student, Luke Hagar, is among the 25 finalists in this year’s GRADflix competition. 

Hagar’s project, entitled “Beyond p-values: Sample size determination using Bayesian statistics,” will be shown along with the other finalists in the showcase event on Friday, January 29, 2021, where the winners will be announced. 

GRADflix is an annual competition hosted by Waterloo’s Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA) that challenges graduate students to create one-minute videos describing their research for a non-specialist audience. 

Hagar, the first student from the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science to participate in the GRADflix competition, decided to enter to gain experience and share his research in Bayesian statistics with a broader audience. He has, however, had to overcome the challenge of condensing his research into a one-minute presentation to a non-specialist audience. 

“Other faculties’ research may feel more tangible to a non-specialist audience than a math student, so with that in mind, I focused on the problem my research solves,” Hagar said. “After giving the audience a tangible and relatable application, I discussed the technical elements.” 

Hagar completed his Bachelor of Math at Waterloo in April 2020 and was granted the NSERC Undergraduate Research Award, which solidified his interest in pursuing graduate-level research. In September 2020, he began the Masters of Math in Statistics program at Waterloo, where he continued his research under the supervision of Professor Nathaniel Stevens. 

Participating in the GRADflix competition also allowed Hagar to explore his abilities in the animated filmmaking technique, stop-motion. 

“I drew all the components by hand which allowed me more freedom and flexibility in the animations,” Hagar shared. 

Hagar encourages other students from the Faculty of mathematics to enter GRADflix despite the format being different from a typical thesis presentation or elevator pitch. 

“It’s been a positive experience,” Hagar said. “I hope people who are considering graduate studies or who are already in graduate studies in the faculty of math see the value of this experience and try for themselves.” 

The GRADflix 2021 Showcase event will be streamed live on the GSPA YouTube channel, and attendees canregister onlineto view the two-hour event, which starts at 3 PM on January 29th. After the finalists’ videos are shown live, the winners will be announced, and attendees can vote on the People’s Choice prize winner.