What attracted you to the health metrics field?
As an undergraduate, I majored in computer science but maintained a strong interest in health and followed the pre-med curriculum. I liked solving quantitative problems, but I also enjoyed my life sciences classes and wanted to pursue opportunities in health and medicine. I was never sure where to find the intersection of my academic interests until I got involved in global health research during my sophomore year. I had the opportunity to carry out a two-month research project on maternal and child health with a team in Guatemala. It was captivating to analyze the trends in our data and learn about health disparities in the region where we worked. I was motivated by the opportunity to use my quantitative skill set on health issues that were intrinsically compelling to me. When the professor leading our research team recommended that I look into IHME, I knew I had found an opportunity to continue to pursue my interests in harnessing data to create positive change in health.
What work are you doing at IHME?
I’m a member of the demographics team at IHME. Our work involves performing estimations of global mortality. We utilize many data sources, including birth histories and vital records, to provide the most accurate metrics possible. We take advantage of spatial and temporal smoothing and Gaussian process regression to model our estimates. Because our work involves large datasets, I have been working on changing our file structure to optimize parallelization.
How do you think your experience at IHME will contribute to your future work?
After working at IHME, I hope to pursue a career in the medical field and continue doing work in global health. I’m especially interested in maternal health and the social, cultural, and economic factors that impact women. IHME has provided me the opportunity to view health from a broad, population-level perspective. I feel that I have a deeper understanding of the global health landscape thanks to my coursework and coworkers. I’ve also learned about the importance of using reliable data and rigorous methods in quantitative research. I know that wherever my career takes me, I will have the technical skill set to guide my work and a holistic understanding of global health.
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GBD 2016 Causes of Death Collaborators. Global, regional, and national age-sex specific mortality for 264 causes of death, 1980–2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016. The Lancet. 14 Sept 2017: 390;1151–210.
GBD 2016 SDG Collaborators. Measuring progress and projecting attainment on the basis of past trends of the health-related Sustainable Development Goals in 188 countries: an analysis from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016. The Lancet. 12 Sept 2017: 390; 1423–59.