Get to Know Our New PhD Students!

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

Nick Link

Hi, my name is Nick Link. I grew up in the far distant land of Newton, Massachusetts. After too many cold winters in Boston, I decided to run away to Houston, Texas for college, where I went to Rice University. I majored in applied math and I loved my experience there. While it’s not a pretty city, Houston has a special place in heart – it has the best food of any city in the US that I’ve been to. I stayed in Houston for two years after college to teach pre-calculus and calculus at a local high school through Teach for America. After too many hot summers in Houston, I decided it was time to move back to the cold, so I came back to Boston to work at the VA hospital down the street from HSPH. I worked with Professors Tianxi Cai and Katherine Liao developing methods for understanding EHR data. This included NLP and machine learning algorithms – both methodological areas of interest for me. This job inspired me to pursue Biostatistics because of its blend of interesting theory, collaborative work, and meaningful applications. Along with working with EHR data, I have done some work on infectious disease surveillance with Professor Mauricio Santillana, using machine learning methods and multiple online data sources to first track flu and currently track covid-19. I am interested in pursuing this research area more in grad school. Other than research, I am excited to take math classes again (it’s been a while) and to be surrounded by curious and intelligent people! Outside of academics, I like playing guitar, playing soccer, cooking, and playing board games with friends (my siblings and I have been playing a lot of Pandemic recently). I’m excited to meet all of my peers in the program and the professors in the department.

Arpan Sarkar

Hi, my name is Arpan Sarkar! I was born in Honolulu, Hawaii and moved to Nashville, TN at an early age. I completed my undergraduate studies at Harvard University, where I graduated with a joint concentration in Statistics & Molecular and Cellular Biology this past May. Early in college, I became interested in single-cell analysis following my coursework in cellular-level biology and biological data analysis. In order to pursue my interests, I began working as an undergraduate researcher in the Yuan Lab under Professor Guo-Cheng Yuan at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology. In my three years under the guidance of Professor Yuan, I became immersed in Spatial Transcriptomics. I worked in both data visualization and method development. I created an interactive and easily scalable tool to visualize raw spatial transcriptomic data and clustering of such data through gene-expression Hidden Markov Random Field (HMRF) analysis. For my senior honors thesis, I developed a cell-type focused HMRF clustering method that could make clustering decisions based upon the cell-types present in each neighborhood of cells in a tissue sample. While at Harvard, I hope to continue exploring spatial transcriptomics, single-cell analysis, data science, and machine learning. I also wish to pursue a variety of teaching opportunities – I was a Course Assistant for the Harvard Math Department for four semesters, and I greatly enjoyed the experience of teaching, grading homework, and holding office hours. In my free time, I enjoy powerlifting, making memes and writing satire, disc golfing, playing video games, and looking for the next best calzone place.