Student Spotlights

Hear what fellow students have to say about our graduate programs! One of the best ways to learn about the Department of Biostatistics, Bioinformatics and Biomathematics is through the testimonies and stories of our students and alumni.

The profiles below give prospective students an insiders view through the academic experiences of current and past students at Georgetown University.

Kathleen McClain, (Biostatistics, MS 2012; Epidemiology, PhD 2018)

Kathleen McClain Massimino received her PhD in Epidemiology in May 2018 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an MS in Biostatistics in December 2012 from Georgetown University, and a BS in Mathematics in May 2011 from Hofstra University. Her current postdoctoral fellowship position at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is her first full-time work experience, as she continues her education straight from her doctorate. Her internship experiences included working at two pharmaceutical companies, doing both statistical and epidemiological work, and with working on specific research studies primarily aiding with data harmonization. Kathleen McClain Massimino is originally from South Jersey, and currently living in Virginia with her husband and six-month old daughter.

How did you get interested in studying Biostatistics? What was your background before Georgetown University?
As an undergraduate, I was a Mathematics major, [but] I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next. I found Biostatistics by happenstance, through the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute funded summer Biostatistics program at Boston University. I was always interested in biology/medicine and [Biostatistics] combined my two primary academic interests. Once completing this summer program, I knew I wanted to explore where Biostatistics could take me.

What did you love most about the MS program?
The best part of the Biostatistics MS program is the faculty. Whether [being an] SRA (Student Research Assistant) for Dr. Valeriy Korostyshevskiy, or TA (Teaching Assistant) for BIST 510/BIST 511 for Dr. Valeriy Korostyshevskiy and Dr. Kepher Makambi, the professors were always helpful and available. 

Specifically, my practicum experience with Dr. Loffredo was the most impactful on my professional life. My favorite course was BIST 917/918, the practicum [research] requirement. This experience is where I was matched with Dr. Chris Loffredo… [became] immersed into the epidemiology field, and found what I wanted to do long-term.

What was challenging about the program?
The most challenging part of the MS program was that it was a condensed program [of]… 3 semesters. Courses went very quickly, particularly BIST 510/511 which were half-semester courses. 

Please describe your current work and job responsibilities.
Currently, I am a postdoctoral fellow in the Metabolic Epidemiology Branch within the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Rockville, MD. My research interests are the associations between the components of energy balance (diet, obesity, and physical activity) and cancer incidence, with an additional focus on metabolomics.

How do you use what you learned in our program in your current work?
On a daily basis, I use what I have learned from the MS Biostatistics program. [It becomes invaluable] whether it is through deciding what statistical approach is most appropriate, running analyses myself, or reviewing scholarly articles.

What advice would you give to current and prospective students?
My advice for prospective students is to think about where you eventually would like to be career-wise (even if in only the broadest terms), and try to find the program that will best suit that trajectory. For current students, I would take advantage of all that the Biostatistics MS program, Georgetown University overall, and DC has to offer. To enjoy your time here and to take a break from scholarly tasks every now and then (especially when graduate school feels all-consuming).

Why did you want to continue with a PhD program?
I continued with a PhD program in Epidemiology. [From my experience at Georgetown,] I realized that I wanted to further build upon my training. Biostatistics provided a great foundation and a set of skills that not everyone within Epidemiology has.

Anything else you’d like to add?
General advice is to always put yourself out there [for] jobs, projects, etc. If you are interested, the worst thing that can happen is for someone to say “no”. Know your limits and do not overcommit your time.

What is your favorite hobby?
My favorite activity now is to go out to a local brewery with my husband and our daughter and spend some time outside (weather permitting) trying new beers.

Where would you love to travel to?
My husband and I have been talking about a trip to the Pacific Northwest forever, so we would love to go to Seattle and Vancouver. Internationally, I would love to take a couple weeks of vacation to go all over Italy.

Any other interesting information you’d want to share with us?
Over the last year, I have completed and successfully defended my dissertation, received my PhD, gave birth to my first child, moved back to the DC area, and started a new job. I am very much looking forward to the time after the holidays where things will slow down a bit.

updated 12/18

Yuying Luo, (Biostatistics, MS 2015)

Yuying Luo, MS 2015 - photo

Yuying (Anova) Luo graduated from Georgetown University with an MSc in Biostatistics in December of 2015 and earned her BSc in Statistics from UIC (Beijing Normal University-Hong Kong Baptist University United International College) in June 2014. She worked as a Biostatistician from 2015 to 2017 in Georgetown University’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center researching on the relationship between smoking and public health. Since 2017, she works as a Programmer in LLX Solutions, LLC in Guangzhou, China where she provides data services to pharmaceutical companies.

How did you get interested in studying Biostatistics? What was your background before Georgetown University?
During my undergraduate study of statistics, I worked on several projects about public health [where I learned about getting] conclusions [from statistical analysis]. In my third year of undergraduate study, Professor Ming Tan…gave a very impressive talk about clinical trials at my college. That was the first time I [learned about]…how a new drug is developed. [I wanted to study Biostatistics because] I care about [public health and clinical trials and want to]…apply my statistics to help in this industry.

What did you love most about the MS program?
I love the home-like atmosphere in our program especially [with both professors and staff inside the Department’s Office at] Suite 180 of Building D. In that office, [I have great memories from when] I talked about the origin of my name “Anova”, and the origin of the test ANOVA with Dr. Edmund Gehan; I watched a soccer game with Dr. Valeriy Korostyshevskiy; I listened to Minnie An, Dr. Kepher Makambi and Veronica Chiu share stories about my previous and senior [classmates]; I ate cupcakes made by Dr. Anca Dragomir, and tried chocolates and drinks brought in by other professors and students returning from vacation, and etc. Even [years] after my graduation, I still come back to our department and feel at home to chat with my “family”.

What was challenging about the program?
The most challenging thing for me was [working on] my research practicum project… [where my research topic was] about genetic data. When I chose this topic, I simply thought I am extremely interested in it, however I knew nothing about it. With no background of genetic knowledge, I did have a hard time to understand data, even all kinds of new terminologies. Thanks to the patience of my research supervisor, Dr. Xiaogang Zhong, [and through hard work] I successfully finished it.

Please describe your current work and job responsibilities.
Since 2017, I work as a SAS Programmer in a CRO (Contract Research Organization) called LLX Solutions, headquartered in Waltham, MA. After working in Waltham for one year, I moved back to China to work at my company’s branch in Guangzhou in 2018. Currently I am leading a team in Guangzhou to provide data services for US pharmaceutical companies on clinical trials. Besides the technical part, I am also responsible for the management part [of leading a team], which is a new challenge for me. 

How does what you learned in our MS program help in your current work?
SAS skills is the most important in my current job [which is necessary] to standardize data per industry requirement and create safety and efficacy reports. I first developed my SAS skills in the BIST course of Introduction to Statistical Software. Afterwards I used my winter break to study more advanced materials and practice by myself. During all my Student Research Assistant (SRA) experiences, I was required to use SAS to perform data analysis for my supervisor. All of these experiences [and my SAS skills] helps a lot in my current job.

What advice would you give to current and prospective students?

  1. First advice is to prepare your work résumé as soon as you start our Biostatistics program. Then start to apply for an internship as soon as possible, even though you do not have a degree or any working experiences yet. Per my experiences, two to three months after I started my first job, [many] recruiters started to contact me. My understanding is that it generally takes some time for my résumé to be (more) seen [by] the job market online. Meanwhile, the earlier you read job descriptions online, the more you know about industry requirements. Moreover, you can change your résumé and see how the job market responds to you when there is not so much pressure. After all, it is still early for you to find a job!
  2. Second advice is to enjoy the life in Georgetown. As a foreign student, it [was] an amazing experience to meet different people and enjoy different things (food or sports, etc.).

What do you love about Georgetown University and DC?
The most impressive point about Georgetown University and DC is the diversity. People there have different backgrounds [and cultures], different hobbies, different favorite foods and travel experiences to share, different holidays to celebrate, and different opinions on the same issues. With so many differences, [my experience was that people]…fully respect each other. In this kind of environment, nothing is unique, while everything is unique. I think this is not only part of Georgetown culture, but also part of US culture, which is always appealing to me.

What is your favorite hobby?
Planting little plants and raising little animals. Currently I have three lovely hamsters.

Where would you love to travel to?
I would love to go to the western USA. What a pity that I have not traveled to California during my four years in the US!

updated 12/18

Peiwen Yu, (Biostatistics, MS 2016)

Peiwen Yu, MS 2016 - photo

Peiwen Yu is an alumnus of the Department of Biostatistics, Bioinformatics, and Biomathematics department at Georgetown University. He graduated with an MS in Biostatistics in 2016 and earned a Bachelor of Applied Science (BASc) in Biotechnology from Nanjing Agricultural University in 2014. Currently, Peiwen is working as an Associate Statistician at Evidera, PPD in Waltham, MA.

What did you love most about the MS program?
I liked the practicum most. Firstly, I had the chance to work with my practicum research advisor, Dr. Lockwood Taylor, [a Lead Epidemiologist at the FDA (Food & Drug Administration)]. We spent around one year to solve a practical topic with real world data. Since Dr. Taylor’s office was not located on campus, we usually[communicated]…using web conference software. The practicum not only gave me experience and real practice, but it also [helped me become]…comfortable talking with someone on a computer…screen. This helped a lot especially when applying a job after I graduated.

People from our department are like the angels from…heaven. Everyone in our department…the professors and staff are nice and always [willing] to help us anytime we need [such as]…searching for resources about intern, job, network opportunities, etc. My advisor, Dr. Christopher Loffredo [would] touch base with me every month [whether]… he was in the US… [or in another] country for work.

What was challenging about the MS program?
[With my undergrad background in Biology, my] Calculus and programming skills were not as good as the people whose undergraduate major was mathematics or statistics. These are no longer problems for me now. It was painful at the very beginning, but I spent a lot of time to practice. All my practice led to progress!

How did you get interested in studying Biostatistics? What was your background before Georgetown University?
I decided I must jump out of the [biology or biotech] zone to a new field. I thought I could make more money in [Biostatistics] rather than in a biology lab. 

Please describe your current work and job responsibilities.
I’m an Associate Statistician at Evidera, PPD in Waltham, MA. I am responsible for proposal writing, developing statistical analysis plans (SAP), conducting statistical analyses, report presenting, project management, etc.

How do you use what you learned in our program in your current work?
I frequently use the statistical methods and SAS programming [that I learned] in our MS program. [The Quantitative Data Analysis & Reporting (BIST 545) course] taught by Dr. Kepher Makambi helped a lot.

What advice would you give to current and prospective students?
Current Students: Know what it is you would like to [do after earning your MS degree]…e.g. getting a job, a PhD degree, etc. Be well prepared for that [goal] and make an all-out effort. Don’t be afraid about asking for help. The professors, staff, senior students, and alumni are willing to give you a hand.

Prospective Students: The Biostatistics MS program offered by DBBB [Department of Biostatistics, Bioinformatics & Biomathematics at Georgetown University] is excellent. Georgetown is a famous university with good reputation. This MS program only takes one and half years to [earn] the degree. The faculty are professional and kind. Take geographical advantage from living in DC. It is easier to build your network and [there are good] opportunities for work.

Anything else you’d like to add?
I want to say “Hi” to everyone in the department. I miss you guys so much. Hopefully we can meet next year…in cherry blossom season.

Any other interesting information you’d want to share with us?
I’m pursuing a Data Science Certificate from the Harvard Extension School.

updated 12/18

Xue Geng, (Biostatistics, MS 2016)

Xue Geng graduated with a Masters of Science in Biostatistics in 2016 and earned a Bachelor of Science in Bioengineering from the Shanghai University in Shanghai, China in 2014. Currently, she works as a Biostatistician in the Department of Biostatistics, Bioinformatics and Biomathematics at the Georgetown University Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

How did you get interested in studying Biostatistics? What was your background before Georgetown University?
While studying biology in college, I had experience working in the laboratory and conducting research. When experiments are conducted, it generates a lot of data [from which we have to make] conclusions. Although I took a Biostatistics course in college, I felt it was really hard to analyze all this data by myself due to my lack of systematic knowledge of Biostatistics. I realized that Biostatistics is very important and I wanted to learn more in order to draw better conclusions [especially when there is]… incomplete, messy, and complex data.

As a well-known university, I knew I wanted to attend Georgetown University. Applying to Georgetown University for Biology was suggested by a friend, but I applied for Biostatistics instead. [Although], I felt nervous as I had limited knowledge about the world of Biostatistics. Luckily, I had the chance to meet Dr. Ming Tan who answered all my questions about the program and gave me a clear picture about the student life here at Georgetown. 

What did you love most about the MS program?

  1. I love the course setting as it’s both informative and comprehensive. It helps you build a solid theoretical foundation and you will have opportunities to use them in real projects.
  2. I love that we can have the opportunity to be Student Research Assistant (SRA) and work on the practicum with professors, which gives us a preview of the future work. You can gain a lot of experience while applying what you learned into what you need to solve.
  3. I love the department faculty as they are professional and nice. They are not only my mentors but also are my friends.
  4. The department has plenty collaborative research with the hospital and Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center (LCCC) which gives students more chance to participate in something. Besides, GU is located in an ideal place, Washington, DC. There are many nearby resources (university, museum, etc.) and opportunities (government agencies, pharmaceutical companies, etc.), as well as the convenient transportation to everywhere.

What was challenging about the program?
I changed my major from Bioengineering to Biostatistics. Thus, I had to spend more time on course work to catch up with other people. In my 2nd semester, I was selected to be a SRA (Student Research Assistant) [at the same time] my practicum was about to start, and I still had to keep up with all my courses. A lot of things happened at the same time, so I have to balance all of them and learn to be more efficient. But, everything was worth it. 

Please describe your current work and job responsibilities.
Currently, I work as a biostatistician in the Department of Biostatistics, Bioinformatics and Biomathematics at the Georgetown University Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. I provide statistical consulting services to Medical Students for their Independent Study Projects and collaborate with Georgetown affiliated researchers (department professors, medical doctors and scientists) on their funded research, clinical trial protocols and analysis, and grant applications.

How do you use what you learned in our program in your current work?
I use everything I learnt in the MS program in my current work.

What advice would you give to current and prospective students?

  1. Balance your workload. Study hard since the theory-based course work is very useful, but the chance to do practical applied work is also valuable. However, try to be efficient as you should also enjoy the life at Georgetown.
  2. Communicate with everyone! Don’t be shy to talk with other people. You will need help, you will need advice, and you will need friends.
  3. Plan ahead. We are in a three-semester program. Before you know it, time can pass very quickly. I recommend that you make a good plan about your life and study. [It is important to] get all the information you need in advance.
  4. Take advantage of the resources offered by the Department and Georgetown University. As we are in a private school, these services are really good!

What is your favorite hobby?

Anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks to all the professors, staff, and friends who helped me. Welcome to all the prospective students! Fasten your seatbelts, you are about to start a very exciting journey!!

updated 12/18

Huiqi Zhuang, (Biostatistics, MS 2016)

Huiqi Zhuang, MS 2016 - photo

Huiqi (Vicky) Zhuang graduated with an MS in Biostatistics in 2016 and earned a BS in Nutrition and Food Science from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2014. Currently, she works as a Biostatistician and Data Analyst in Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) in the DC Department of Health.

How did you get interested in studying Biostatistics? What was your background before Georgetown University?
My intern project was related to food science data. At that time, I felt it will be great if I could change my major into statistics because I found that I was more interested in statistics and data science. Thanks to a friend from Southern Medical University, I learned about Georgetown’s Biostatistics MS program. After talking to Dr. Korostyshevskiy [Director of Graduate Studies], I decided to submit my application. The information provided from the program was clear and helpful. I believed that I could do it and that Georgetown will help my career.

What did you love most about the MS program?
The courses in the Biostatistics Master’s Program are great. The course setting is great for job searching after graduation. I have applied most of the knowledge from my Master’s study to my current work. The faculty members are friendly and helpful. The [Research] Practicum…was also a great opportunity for a student to understand research and communicate [one-on-one and learn to collaborate] with a faculty member. I also have applied what I learned from Practicum to my current work. 

What was challenging about the program?
Changing your major is never easy. My undergraduate major was [in Food Science,] not statistics. The first semester was the hardest time for me because I was trying to catching up. Thanks to the faculty’s help and the office hours, I did a good job in the second…and third semesters. 

Please describe your current work and job responsibilities.
I am working in the DC Department Health, Center of Policy Planning and Evaluation. The main goal is to understand the risk factors and disease rates in DC in order to prevent disease outbreaks and prevent death in Washington, DC. Therefore, I analyze the data from BRFSS records from DC and create fact sheets, reports and so on. Furthermore, I also work in data visualization to help the public to understand the BRFSS data easily. I am working on combining the BRFSS records and vital records to predict the death rates and prevent death. 

How do you use what you learned in our program in your current work?
Currently I am using the weighted chi-square-test, weighted logistic regression, epidemiology, and machine learning (random forests). [What I learned in class from writing statistics reports, oral presentations, and teamwork [are skills I use in my work]. What I learned from Georgetown is the base and it has inspired me to create new methods to solve statistics problems. It helps us to know the health status of the residents in Washington DC and to improve their health.

What advice would you give to current and prospective students?

  1. Enjoy the graduate study and work hard. The courses are super helpful in your future job. 
  2. Try to talk to Faculty members and Alumni to understand better which career path is the best for you.
  3. Utilize the resources of Washington, DC. DC is a great city for Data Scientists and Statisticians. Not only are there [many] government agencies here, but also a lot of start-up Bio-companies and Hi-tech companies. Therefore, if there is any chance, sign up for a meetup in Data Science and introduce yourself to others.

Do you plan to apply for a PhD program in Biostats? Why?
Yes, [I hope to] be in a part-time [PhD] program this year. Working on the government data [has been] a huge resource. I feel PhD knowledge could help me better utilize the data and help my career development. 

Anything else you’d like to add?
A lot of government agencies love GU students. 🙂 Go Hoyas!

What is your favorite hobby?
I like outdoor activities, like kayaking under key bridge. Also, I like going to Foggy Bottom for Data Science Meetups and going to Metro-Center for Broadway shows (lottery ticket is the best thing in the world!).

Where would you love to travel to?

Any other interesting information you’d want to share with us?

  1. DC Department of Health and DC government needs a lot of public health analysts, epidemiologists, statisticians, and data analysts. Check our DCHR website. (OPT is fine)
  2. DC government opens the Summer Intern Program every year. You can submit your application from Feb. – April. [However,] you must be [available to work] from May 24th to the end of August (CPT is fine).
  3. If you like Data Science, let’s play Kaggle together! I have gotten into the finals before. 

updated 3/18

Philip Meacham, (Biostatistics, MS 2013; Epidemiology, PhD Expected 2019)

Philip Meacham, MS 2013 - photo

Philip Meacham earned a Master’s of Science in Biostatistics in 2013 at Georgetown University. During his graduate studies at Georgetown, he worked at the National Institutes of Health as a research analyst with the National Institute of Child Health and Development. He also earned a dual Bachelor’s of Science in Statistics and Applied Mathematics, summa cum laude, from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2011.

Philip began his doctoral studies in Epidemiology in 2013 at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. While pursuing a PhD, he also works as a research assistant in the clinical trials office at the Wilmot Cancer Institute. His research focus is in cancer epidemiology, and he is particularly interested in prevention of second cancers, risk prediction modeling, and applying novel statistical methodology in clinical and epidemiological research. His current doctoral research focuses on characterizing the population that develops multiple lymphoid malignancies during their lifetime and evaluating the risk of developing a second after surviving the first lymphoid malignancy. 

Why were you interested in studying Biostatistics? What was your background before Georgetown University?
Before I started at Georgetown I got a dual BS in Statistics and Applied Mathematics. I wanted to continue my training as a statistician, but with a focus in the biomedical field.

What did you love most about the MS program?
I really enjoyed my time studying biostats at Georgetown, and I was very impressed with the variety of courses offered by the Department. It was helpful to have a mixture of both theoretical statistics along with practical courses. Having the exposure to many different applications of biostatistics not only taught me a lot, but it ensured that I was armed with a great toolbox that I could use in any field once I graduated.

What was challenging about the MS program?
?The most challenging aspect of the MS program was continuously managing my time efficiently and balancing my workload, especially in the last semester. More specifically, the two primary challenges I faced were:
1) working over the summer at the NIH as a research analyst while working on my practicum project, as well as
2) finishing my practicum in the final semester of the program, working at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center as a data analyst, and continuing my course-load. 
Despite these [challenging] experiences, I am very grateful for the skill sets that I developed as a result, and it benefits me now as I work as a research assistant while working on my PhD.?

What are you doing now? Please describe your current work.
I am currently a fifth-year PhD student in epidemiology at the University of Rochester and am planning on defending my dissertation next year [in 2019]. I am a cancer epidemiologist, with a specific interest in hematologic malignancies. My current research focuses on better understanding the risk of developing multiple lymphomas over a person’s lifetime. 

How do you use what you learned in our MS program in your current work?
My first introduction to epidemiology – ever – was at Georgetown. If it was not because of the epidemiology course I took as part of the MS program in biostats, I might not be pursuing a PhD in epidemiology now. All of the other courses I took significantly helped me better understand statistics and become proficient at data analysis, which are two integral factors in being a good epidemiologist.

What advice would you give to current and prospective students?
I have two pieces of advice to current students. First, take full advantage of the resources offered by the Department, the Graduate School, and the University. These range from seminars and mentorship to study spaces and computer centers to writing centers and career development services. The second, and maybe most important, would be to enjoy your time at Georgetown; take full advantage of life and activities on campus. 

Why did you want to continue with a PhD in Epidemiology? What do you hope to do afterwards?
While working on my MS in biostatistics, and after being introduced to epidemiology, I had a strong desire to further my epidemiological training with the eventual goal of becoming an independent researcher. I do not want to simply consult on research, or be the assigned statistician, but rather I want to be the one designing and conducting the research. A PhD in epidemiology was the logical next step; I do not consider it ignoring my training as a biostatistician but rather using those skills to be a better epidemiologist. When I began the MS program at Georgetown, my career goal after graduating was to work as a data scientist for either the Census, the NIH, or the CDC. I still desire to work in the government, but now in the capacity of an epidemiologist. I want to use my quantitative and computational skill set to serve my country in some capacity as well as advance scientific knowledge as it pertains to evidence-based medicine.

What is your favorite hobby?
I love antiquing.

Any interesting information or updates you’d want to share with us?
It would be very difficult for me to get through my PhD program without the love and support of my partner, Eddie Sundquist. We support each other in our careers and ambitions. He is currently running for US Congress in New York’s 23rd Congressional District, and I am proud to say that I am his biggest supporter.
Please consider learning more about Eddie and his campaign at ? 

updated 3/18

Dohoon Kim, (Biostatistics, MS 2012)

Dohoon Kim - photo

Dohoon Kim is an alumnus of the Department of Biostatistics, Bioinformatics, and Biomathematics department at Georgetown University. He graduated with an MS in Biostatistics in 2012 and holds a BS in Biology from Seoul National University and an MS in Biology from Gwangju Institution of Science and Technology.
Dohoon is happily married with two adorable kids, living in Ellicot City, MD and a Data Scientist at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

How did you get interested in studying Biostatistics? What was your background before Georgetown?
Biostatistics was a “hot” major [and still is a popular, high in-demand field] in the US. Before the MS program, I was a field application specialist at Promega Corporation, a Biotech company. I was and still am working on my own biotech company foundation. Since I was living in Frederick, MD, the nearest prominent university to me was Georgetown University. I am proud of its reputation. 

What did you love most about the MS program?
I loved taking R programming with Dr. Li, Practicum with Dr. Korostyshevskiy, Quantitative Data Analysis with Dr. Makambi, and Epidemiology with Dr. Loffredo. I was very satisfied with the organized curriculum. The friendly staff and faculty were also very helpful.

What was challenging about the MS program?
Statistical programming—SAS and R—was tough for me. At the time, I was just a beginner 

Please describe your current work and job responsibilities.
My working area is somewhere among Bioinformatics, Biostatistics and Computer Science. I was recently promoted to Data Scientist at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Maryland. I design and implement software systems for high-throughput data analysis in a high-performance computing environment. That includes autogating, clustering, COMPASS, and Next Generation Sequencing analysis using UNIX, R, Python, and Matlab. I build analytic workflows for automated deployment of bioinformatics tools for interpreting flow cytometry, NGS, GWAS or other immunological data sets. It is mostly bioinformatics and computational work, but there is a lot of biostatistical analysis too as part of bioinformatics projects. 

How do you use what you learned in our program in your current work?
I learned clustering method, KNN, viSNE, bioinformatics, (non)parametric methods, linear regression, and FDR. R programming was the most useful for me, and I have used all of these at work. [To gain] high level R skills, I searched many websites and forums and read many bestselling R related books.

What advice would you give to current and prospective students?

  1. As an international student, my Visa status was the most important thing to obtain for a job. As a foreigner, you are a underdog in the job market even if you have full potential to be a good biostatistician. Therefore, if there is very small chance to get a H-visa at your current job, you must get it, no matter the cost.
  2. Choose a difficult Practicum topic—it may [be stressful] in the final semester, but it could be helpful to get the right job [especially since] some companies care a lot about Practicum topics [and the data analysis aspects of the research project]. 
  3. Get a strong recommendation letter. Make your resume strong and concise. Too many skills on your resume can make [potential] employers skeptical about your skill level.
  4. Knowing one [software] program thoroughly is better than knowing lots of programs at the intermediate level! Remember, some companies in the software field have their own programming tests for new employee candidates. 
  5. Make a strong network with everybody, if possible. Be kind to everyone you meet, it will make “magic” for you!
  6. Lastly, HR staff members are always smarter than you! They have met many people like you, so they can see through you and you cannot hide anything in front of them. So, be relaxed at your interview!

What is your favorite hobby?
Tennis, golf, surfing, snowboarding.

Where would you love to travel to?
Cancun, Japan, Vancouver, Thailand, California, and Katmai.

updated 3/18

Tengfei Li, (Biostatistics, MS 2017; PhD, Expected 2022)

Tengfei Li, MS 2017 - photo

Tengfei Li is a current graduate student and an alumnus of the Department of Biostatistics, Bioinformatics, and Biomathematics department at Georgetown University. He graduated with an MS in Biostatistics in 2017 and earned a BS in Statistics from East China Normal University in 2010. Tengfei is pursuing his Ph.D. in Biostatistics at Georgetown University.

How did you get interested in studying Biostatistics? What was your background before Georgetown?
My undergraduate background is in Statistics. The art of interdisciplinary cooperation inspired me a lot and guided me to the field of Biostatistics because it combines statistical methodologies and biomedical research needs. 

Before Georgetown, I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Statistics at East China Normal University in 2010. Then for five years, I worked in Contract Research Organizations (CRO) as a Statistical Programmer supporting clinical trials. Specifically, I worked for 2 years at Tigermed Consulting (China’s biggest CRO) and 3 years at PAREXEL International (a Global leading CRO).

What did you love most about the MS program?
The Practicum is what I love the most, without which I may not have made my decision to apply for the PhD program. The faculty and staff are all very, very nice. I would always get helpful suggestions and instructions from them. They are more than happy to help. I am really grateful to the Biostatistics Program and the professors at Georgetown University.

The Biostatistics MS program at Georgetown…has become more and more competitive because it provides not only solid classic biostatistical knowledge, but advanced and popular techniques like machine learning in biomedical data sciences. The program also features a Practicum, an “appetizer” of research, which enables students to apply what they’ve learned into a real research project. Practicum is even more helpful when deciding whether to continue with a PhD program after MS graduation.

How do you use what you learned in our MS program now?
What I learned as a Master’s student is the basis of my current coursework in my Ph.D. program. I review and refer to the textbooks from the MS program when needed.

What advice would you give to current and prospective students?
Take every opportunity to study hard! Communicate [and get to know] your instructors and advisors. Apply for Research Assistantships and/or Internships.

[With the]… geographical advantage of Georgetown University’s location in DC, students can always find volunteer opportunities, research assistantships and internships at Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center (LCCC) and National Institute of Health (NIH). These are fantastic experiences to have when looking for future jobs.

Why did you want to study for a PhD in Biostats at GU? What do you hope to do after?
I started the Ph.D. program in Biostatistics at Georgetown University in 2017. I wish not only to apply biostatistical methodologies in real-life problems, but to get a deeper learning in statistical methodologies and data analysis. I hope to contribute to possible improvements. The Ph.D. program at Georgetown is quite new, however many opportunities are available to learn and work with faculty. The curriculum is attractive because it involves many fields in modern biostatistics. After completing my PhD, I want to keep all possible options open [like doing research, or working in industry or government or maybe teaching]. We will see what happens in the near future.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Georgetown University is the safest place in the DC area, [in my experience.]

What is your favorite hobby?
Hiking! There are [many] places around DC area suitable for hiking, such as Maryland’s Sugarloaf Mountain, Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, and the popular Billy Goat trail.

updated 3/18

Ping Li, (Biostatistics, MS 2010)

BA in English and Law
Huazhong University, China

“My professors are very helpful and understanding. Even though I didn’t major in statistics or a related field during my undergraduate years, the courses are very comprehensive, and the professors are willing to take the time to explain things outside of class.”

Ainsley Stapleton, (Biostatistics, MS 2012)

BS in Business Administration
MS in Accounting
George Washington University, Washington DC

“We are learning the application of biostatistics in addition to some of the theory, which really helps us to understand the whole problem. Professors always provide real life examples that allow us to see what we are learning applied to actual problems. We are learning different methods for approaching the issues we will face in our jobs. This program provides a very well rounded biostatistics education.”

Patti Vegella, (Biostatistics, MS 2011)

BS in Psychology
Clemson University, South Carolina

“As a part-time student, I like that the program has classes in the morning so you can easily adjust your work schedule. I also like how the professors share their experiences and talk about what to expect when you get a job as a biostatistician. The theoretical concepts and data analysis skills I’ve learned in class have helped me better understand the research studies I work on and enabled me to collaborate on new projects at the Cancer Control Program at Lombardi Cancer Center.”