#2020Trojan: Meet Chelsea H. Lee, Master of Science in Biostatistics progressive degree graduate

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May 11, 2020
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Chelsea H. Lee earns her Master of Science in Biostatistics as a progressive degree graduate.

Pictured: Chelsea H. Lee. Image by Julian Grajczak.
Pictured: Chelsea H. Lee. Image by Julian Grajczak.

Why did you choose to pursue your degree?

I love data and I was inspired from several talks and courses in my undergraduate studies at USC to use data analysis in improving human health. My eventual goal is to become a well-equipped data scientist and I thought that having a solid foundation in statistics first was very important in dealing with data. The USC Division of Biostatistics has top-notch researchers and the progressive degree option allowed me to start my MS in my senior year of college. 

What has been your biggest accomplishment during your studies?

My biggest accomplishment was completing my Master’s Thesis, which was a hands-on project analyzing survival outcomes of Prostate Cancer from California Cancer Registry records. I had the opportunity to apply machine learning and learned from experts on how to approach this project. It was a great learning experience for an analyst in training.

What’s an important lesson you learned?

It’s important to not feel bad asking questions. In fact, everyone is still learning. The world of data and statistics is evolving so there’s lots to learn!

What’s one of your favorite memories from your program?

Second-year coursework for biostatistics was quite tough, so it was actually the small moments that gave me joy like going to the Biostats Micro Kitchen to get snacks with a friend during lecture breaks. I looked forward to seeing new snacks each week (there was a box of hi-chew once). Other than that, I also like my food adventures. I’ve been to Little Tokyo and DTLA a couple of times and even got to try an award-winning croissant of LA!

What will you miss most and why?

I’ll miss the professors. Each and every one of them was very friendly and helpful. It’s like training under superstars but they’re also humble. I really appreciate the open-door policy asking for quick questions! They’ve provided a very warm environment for students to learn and I’ll miss that.

What are you doing after you graduate?

I’m excited to join Amgen at their Thousands Oaks HQ as a Data Scientist!

What do you look forward to in your career path?

Tackling Precision Medicine! It will be a while but I’ll take things step by step.

What advice do you have for future grads?

Ask questions. Many would regard data analysis as an art form. The data is there but how would you approach the data in answering your hypothesis? It can be hard coming up with questions, so I highly suggest playing with data on your own before your program starts. This can give you a sense of the challenges that arise when dealing with data and reporting your results. The only way to grow is to learn from the experts and, well, those are your professors!

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