Get to Know Our New PhD Students!

Over the next few weeks we’ll be introducing you to our first year doctoral students.

Michael CorkHi, my name is Michael Cork and I grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and attended Pomona College for my undergraduate education. After graduating in 2016 with a major in Mathematics, I moved to Spain to teach English while continuing remote work for City of Hope, a cancer research institute. I moved to Seattle in 2017, where for the past three years I’ve been a fellow at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) working in global health research while earning a Master of Public Health degree.

My work at IHME has informed my interest in using quantitative methods to improve public health decisions. Working under Laura Dwyer-Lindgren and Simon Hay, I helped estimate local HIV prevalence at the center of the HIV/AIDS epidemic by constructing modeled covariates using Bayesian geostatistical methods. I published this work for one such covariate—male circumcision—an important driver of HIV incidence in sub-Saharan Africa. I recently completed my master’s thesis where I estimated HIV mortality in Latin American countries using incomplete local vital registration data and small area estimation methods. While I have mainly worked in the field of HIV, I am also interested in how statistical models support decision-making in environmental health. I am excited to join the department and continue developing expertise related to my research interests, which include spatial statistics, causal inference, and machine learning methods.

Outside of work, I am a huge soccer fan. I’ve played soccer my entire life, and I even played in the 7th division of Spanish football while living in Madrid—only 6 league promotions away from playing against Messi! In my free time, if I am not playing or watching soccer, I love to read, hike, drink coffee, and travel (ask me about my recent trip to Ethiopia, pictured above).

Lauren HsuHi, my name is Lauren Hsu and I’m from the SF Bay Area. For my undergraduate degree I studied biomedical engineering at Columbia University, where I worked on an additive manufacturing technique for biodegradable, implantable drug delivery devices. After graduating in 2013, I stayed in NYC for a few years working at Locus Analytics, a research firm developing a systems-based economic theory and a unified industrial and labor classification framework, with applications in various domains including finance, risk management, and economic development.

I completed the CBQG master’s program at HSPH this year, for which I wrote my master’s thesis on matrix factorization methods in single-cell omics count data, advised by Dr. Aedin Culhane at DFCI. As part of my thesis work I created an R/Bioconductor package called corral to perform dimensionality reduction and alignment/batch integration of single-cell count data using correspondence analysis (a count-based alternative to PCA). For my PhD research I am interested in methods and tools to enable integrative analysis of heterogeneous biological datasets, and computational biology and bioinformatics more broadly. I am especially interested in emerging modes of data, such as high-resolution spatial ‘omics, and in exploring network and graph approaches.

In my free time I enjoy strategy board games, snowboarding, scuba-diving, and am an amateur glassblower.