Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Sara Seeman

Passing remarks: Before coming to Wheaton, I anticipated earning a degree in mathematics, but I had always enjoyed biology as well and was particularly interested in how the human body functions. During an Accelerated Statistics class, Professor Michael Kahn mentioned that his wife is a biostatistician and works at a cancer research center. I did some research and learned of a new up-and-coming field called biostatistics. I knew I had found my niche, since biostatistics incorporates my love for numbers and curiosity about how beings operate.

An expanded vision: I discovered a six-week summer program for undergraduates called The Summer Institute for Training in Biostatistics (SIBS), and I went to the Filene Center to work on my résumé and statement of purpose that was required for the program application. I attended in Summer 2010, and I learned a new application of biostatistics each week, such as clinical trials; longitudinal and survival studies; statistical genetics; pharmacogenomics; and bioinformatics. I hadn’t realized that biostatistics could be applied in so many ways, and the experience directed me to start thinking about what I want to focus on in my career.

Opportunities for change: The application of biostatistics I enjoyed the most when participating in SIBS was pharmacogenomics, a branch of pharmacology that correlates gene expression with the efficacy of a drug. This type of work interests me because I’m motivated to improve public health by directly contributing to the production of new medical treatments.

Real experience: Going to graduate school at Emory for biostatistics will permit me to learn more about pharmacogenomics, but I’m excited to learn many other applications of the subject as well. I’m looking forward to practicing these skills in real-world settings at either a job or an internship. There are many corporations in Atlanta, Ga., such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Carter Center, where many Emory graduate students have jobs.

New roads: I have lived in the Northeast my whole life, so I’m excited to step out of my comfort zone and experience another part of the country. Even though I’ve loved being a part of the small Wheaton campus, I’m ready for a change with the Emory campus and by exploring a big city.