A bookshelf of various colorful books

Graduate Highlight: Afiq bin Oslan

Get to know Afiq bin Oslan, one of our 2023 PhD graduates. This fall, he joins the Department of Public Economics at the Max Planck Institute of Tax Law and Public Finance as a Senior Research Fellow. Congratulations Afiq!

Where did you grow up?

Shah Alam, Malaysia

Where did you complete your undergrad?

The Australian National University

What made you choose WashU?

I was already a grad student at my undergrad institution before coming to WashU and I was advised to head stateside if I wanted serious training in my field. I tried my luck with a small number of applications and WashU was my only offer from those.

What is your area of concentration (IR, Comparative, Methods, American, etc.)?

Formal Theory

Why did you pursue political science?

I started undergrad wanting to study political philosophy. I was... not cut out for philosophy. But I was good at maths and was surprised to learn that political science involved a lot of maths. So I tried a PoliSci major as a compromise to myself and here we are.

What are you currently working on?

Earthquakes and spies. On separate projects, of course. Unless I somehow manage to find a way to connect them.

What is one piece of advice you would give a prospective PhD student?

Only do a PhD if there is absolutely nothing else left that you want to try doing first. On your worst days as a grad student, you will probably ask yourself "what if things had been different?" It always brought me some respite every time I remember that I would probably have ended up doing this no matter what.

What motivates you to work hard?

Boredom. Like they say, "let your child be bored." There are no times more productive for me than the small gaps in between things on my calendar, or the walk to and from my apartment and campus.

Favorite travel destination and why?

Tokyo is my usual transit when flying between STL and Malaysia. When possible, I will stop for a few nights to rest my legs between flights. Because it was a pause in a longer journey, it almost feels like a free vacation. Unfortunately, COVID times meant I could not do this as often as I would have liked in my time living in the US, but I was very happy to get to do so one last time this summer.

What was the last book you read for pleasure?

This interview actually caught me in the middle of The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I bought this book to read at the end of my first year at WashU, but the crushing weight of grad school at that time meant I was not in the mental space for leisurely reading. I am happy to report I have gotten further than my last attempt and will be heading straight back to reading it after this!


Keep up with Afiq's work at his personal website.