Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, MSPH ’22
"They taught me how to combine mathematical and computer science theory and bring them into the real world."
Zoey Zuo’s undergraduate degree in math from the University of Maine at Orono may have been the launch pad for her interest in pursuing biostatistics, but it was a personal experience with a family member’s battle with lung cancer that would inform her path. The second-year MSPH student in the Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics is interested in using her MSPH degree to explore a career in drug development.
“My grandfather died during my freshman year of undergraduate studies. [His doctors] did not have any medicine for him to feel better in his last days and they had to give him a lot of sleeping drugs to keep him comfortable. I want to help people feel happier before they die,” says Zuo, who transferred to the U.S. from China for high school in 2014.
When searching for a graduate school, Zuo looked for schools with public health programs that included biostatistics and considered both future job and research opportunities.
With a natural talent for statistics, Zuo thought biostatistics could introduce her to the medical field and biology. She was attracted to the Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics’ academic program that offers students opportunities from beginner to intermediate and advanced levels.
Of her first-year classes, Zuo says, “They taught me how to combine mathematical and computer science theory and bring them into the real world.”
One of Zuo’s favorite experiences at Rollins beyond the classroom is being the class representative for the Rollins Student Government Association. In this role, she works with Melissa Sherrer (associate director of academic programs) and fellow BIOS student representative Feier Han to plan, organize, and advertise activities for the community, and serve as a liaison between the department’s students, faculty, and administration.
“Being the class rep has really strengthened my communication skills. It has also broadened my understanding of regulations and how Rollins works, as well as how to manage funding,” she notes.
Another unique experience for Zuo has been the work she has done for her Applied Practice Experience with Dr. Traci Leong, research assistant professor. Working with Leong since summer break, Zuo has had the opportunity to engage in multiple projects that allow her to build her experience in data analysis and management.
“Dr. Leong also taught me how to write formal research and prepare a proposal, which I am really grateful for because I did not have this kind of opportunity before,” Zuo says.
Since August 2021, Zuo has also been tasked with quality checking the data for an international multi-center study called the Household Air Pollution Intervention Network Trial which aims to lower household air pollution—and improve human health—through the use of liquefied petroleum gas cooking stoves in Guatemala, India, Peru, and Rwanda.
Zuo is not sure yet what job she’ll pursue upon graduation, but she plans to stay in the U.S. for a few more years to kick off her career. In the meantime, she’s excited to continue to dig into her studies and work with more professors as research opportunities arise.