What attracted you to the health metrics field?
My interest in global health began in high school when I had the opportunity to do some clinical shadowing at a hospital in rural Tanzania. Having always been interested in math and science but unsure of exactly what field I wanted to enter, I found my shadowing experience incredibly transformative. By my freshman year of college I was already fairly sure that I wanted to pursue a career in global health, so I concentrated in molecular and cellular biology and got a secondary in global health and health policy. Intent on combining my interests of biology and global health, I worked in a lab studying Plasmodium falciparum malaria and wrote a senior thesis on the use of genomic markers to infer changing malaria transmission dynamics in Senegal.
In college, my coursework gave me brief introductions to computer programming and statistics, and I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed those subjects. I was happy then to discover that my senior thesis project required a little bit of both. Finding the analysis component of my thesis particularly interesting, I decided to look for opportunities to continue that type of work and build upon my analytical research skills. Health metrics stood out to me as the perfect field for developing my quantitative abilities while contributing to the area of work that I am passionate about.
What work are you doing at IHME?
At IHME I work on the environmental risk factors team of the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) project. Our team compiles data on population exposures to environmental hazards and the resulting increases in risk for various diseases and conditions. Modeling these data allows us to view the contribution of each risk factor to disease burden, both globally and with respect to specific geographies, sexes, and age groups.
How do you think your experience at IHME will contribute to your future work?
While I’m certain that I want to pursue a career in global health, I am still unsure of exactly where I see myself down the road. I'm hoping that in the next few years at IHME I will get a better sense of whether health metrics is the field for me. But I am confident that the critical thinking skills and quantitative abilities that I'm developing here as a PBF will be useful no matter what field I ultimately choose to enter.