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From student immigrant to assistant professor, Amatya finds success in U.S.

Date: 07/01/2012

Anup Amatya came to the United States from Nepal almost 12 years ago. His struggles as an immigrant student did not stop his drive to succeed. Last year, he became an assistant professor of biostatistics in the College of Health and Social Services at New Mexico State University. As a rising star in his field, he has big plans for the future.

This is a head-and-shoulders photo of Anup Amatya, an assistant professor of biostatistics in the College of Health and Social Sciences.
Anup Amatya, originally from Nepal, is an assistant professor of biostatistics in the College of Health and Social Sciences.

"I was pretty young when I was in Nepal, so I was living with my parents. Once I came here, it was a very big transition," Amatya said. "I started living by myself in a foreign place; I didn't know anyone. I had to make new friends, get to know the place I was living in; I basically had to start over. It was a big change, but luckily I found good friends, a lot of help and I met a lot of nice people. But still, living away from family is the difficult part."

The challenges of adapting to change are still present in Amatya's life. Right after graduating from his Ph.D. program in 2011, he began teaching at NMSU in August.

"I never thought I would be teaching," he explained. "As I started doing my Ph.D. and working as a teacher assistant, I taught a class and began interacting with students and I liked teaching. I decided to go to academia, so I can teach and do research."

He said his biggest adjustment as a teacher has been teaching both graduate and undergraduate courses, since it is the first time he has two different levels of classes. He also said that one of his best experiences as a new professor is learning from what his students are interested in learning and combining that feedback with what he needs to teach in each course.

"It's a new job and I'm excited about teaching," he said.

Amatya is also researching and working on drug safety statistics, studying the effects of drugs in large populations.

"In a trial phase [of medication] we don't know too much about the safety of a drug and side effects because it is tried on a small population," he said. "Once it goes out to the public, many types of people take the drug, and we learn the different side effects on different patients."

Biostatistics is a very important area in the medical field.

"It has become a very popular area recently due to the [Food and Drug Administration's] regulations of pharmaceutical products," he said.

Amatya has many goals and one of them is to continue research in this area.

"I also want to get tenure here," he said. "At the same time I would like to collaborate with faculty in this university. I hope to get good publications and get promoted to associate professor, and maybe full professor."

Written by Angela Simental

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