- PhD student, Biostatistics
- Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Why did you choose biostatistics?
I feel more connected to my work when it is motivated by a real-world application. I've always been interested in public health and wanted to pick a career where I could help solve public health problems.
Why did you choose the UW?
I chose UW because I wanted a program that would give me the tools and knowledge to help me in my career after graduation. I felt the courses and research experience would give me the confidence and ability to learn new and unfamiliar concepts on my own. There was also a supportive and friendly atmosphere between the students which was important to me.
How would you describe your experience as a UW biostatistics student?
I think it's been challenging, but in a good way. The classes were challenging but after completing them I gained a lot of confidence about my abilities and knowledge of the field. While working as a teaching assistant, it was challenging to try to explain statistical concepts to students who have a different background than me, but I found that I really liked teaching and communicating with non-statisticians. Right now I'm starting research, which has been very challenging, but I know I'll look back at it as an invaluable experience.
What kind of research are you doing?
I am working with professors Kathleen Kerr and Lurdes Inoue on evaluating the clinical utility of biomarkers. I think it's interesting because a lot of times we evaluate risk scores or biomarkers by their statistical performance but it would be useful if we could also incorporate the costs and benefits of measuring these markers, particularly if we have people with different preferences. I use decision theory in my research. In my research assistantship, I do a lot of applied research with HIV prevention clinical trial data, where I've learned a great deal about survival analysis methods.
How would you describe the benefit of your research?
Let's say there is a medical test that is used to help diagnose illness. If the test comes back positive your doctor might follow-up with a more invasive procedure that merely confirms you are sick. Our goal is to help people figure out how useful a medical test is to them, and when given that information, help them decide what treatment or medical procedure would best for them. We're using statistics to combine a patient's preferences with medical and statistical knowledge so that individuals feel confident in their medical decisions.
What are your future goals?
What do you like most about Seattle?
There are lots of great things about Seattle, like the beautiful views, hiking, and camping. I'm not very outdoorsy though, so I'm all about the food! There are tons of great Korean, Sushi, Italian, Vegan, Indian, Dim Sum, etc. I feel like there is always something new to try.
What extracurricular activities do you enjoy?
I really like to try out different crafts. Since I've been in Seattle I've tried knitting, crocheting, candle-making. I'm taking a garment sewing class now and I think I'm going to try woodworking next!
What is the most important thing you’ve learned since starting your biostatistics degree program?
During my time in the program I've held a lot of different roles: a researcher, a student, a teacher, a consultant, and often a part of a team made up of biostatisticians and non-biostatisticians. I think I've learned a lot about what kind of worker I am, and what kind of work I do and don't like. It's helped me to consider the career path I want to take.
What advice would you give to a student who is considering a UW Biostatistics program?
I think one of the best parts of UW Biostatistics is we get a lot of opportunities to try out different areas of research and interact with different professors. I didn't feel rushed to find an advisor or pick a topic I didn't like. There are many opportunities to learn about new topics and meet professors through independent studies and classes. You can take a little time to find an area that really interests you.