What attracted you to the health metrics field?
I’ve always had an analytical mindset. My mom tells me that from the moment I was born I had a look of “how does that work?” on my face. This led to my having a passion for math and science throughout school; I could use numbers and scientific principles to explain everyday phenomena around me. Once I got to college, I started to gain an interest in the human body and human health. I decided to pursue a degree in Biomedical Engineering because it would allow me to pair the analytical skills I so love with my interest in the human body and how it works.
While most of my undergraduate work focused on the specific mathematical and physical principles that determine human health, I found that focusing on health only at the individual body level misses out on much of the bigger picture of human health as a whole; that’s where global health comes in. There are so many non-biological factors that affect health, such as socioeconomic status, geography, and environment. I am attracted to health metrics because, as a field of study, it allows us to quantify and analyze these factors that so greatly contribute to the state of human health on a global scale.
What work are you doing at IHME?
I’m part of the Malaria Elimination team, which is one of the smaller teams at IHME. Currently, I am developing a model of malaria transmission in complex systems using a set of differential equations called the Ross-Macdonald equations. The goal of this work is to use real data from areas such as the Greater Mekong Subregion to create models of forest malaria, for which it is very difficult to implement effective interventions. These models would assist local and national governments in planning more effective interventions, aiding in the fight to eliminate malaria in their country.
I’ve had the privilege to collaborate with people from all over the world, including the Cambodian government and Oxford’s Malaria Atlas Project. Once I fully develop my forest malaria model, I plan to work with these players to plan interventions that will aid in the important pursuit of malaria elimination.
How do you think your experience at IHME will contribute to your future work?
I’m not entirely sure what I plan to do after the Post-Bachelor Fellowship program, but one skill I’ve gained that I know will be useful is the ability to learn how to use new tools quickly and efficiently. So far at IHME I’ve learned how to use tools such as Git, Markdown, LaTeX, RStudio, Shiny, Python, and cluster computing. I’ll be able to use these tools and ones like them in whatever endeavor I pursue next.