Get to Know Our First-Year PhD Students!

 Zhu ShenHi! My name is Zhu (Lucy) Shen. I come from Nanjing, China. I did my undergraduate at Smith College, where I studied Mathematics (Statistics) and Economics. My interest in incorporating statistics into public health was shaped during my undergraduate years where I had chance to engage in research projects of improving mental health diagnosis using text mining and predicting ICU disease onset using electronic health records. After entering Stanford as a master student in Statistics, I joined the Golub Capital Social Impact Lab as a research assistant mentored by Professor Susan Athey, where I used causal inference tools to study the effect of a therapeutic, the Alpha-1 adrenergic receptor (α1-AR) antagonists, on hyperinflammation and death. Through this research, I was impressed by how causal inference can be applied in the public health research when we have access to the large database storing health care information. When the randomized control trials are too expensive or unethical to be conducted, we can harness the vast amount of observational data such as electronic health records, to replicate the randomized control trials and gain valuable insights. I found this field quite promising and would love to future study the analysis of the observational health data using advanced causal inference tools. I am also interested in other topics including causal inference in the high dimensions, robust causal estimates along with high dimensional statistics. In my free time, I love listening to music, reading comics, and exploring new restaurants with friends!

Jeanette VarelaHello! My name is Jeanette Varela and I am from Española, New Mexico. In May 2021, I obtained my master’s degree in Biostatistics from HSPH. My thesis work investigated the association between dietary nutrition patterns and cardiovascular disease risk factors among U.S. Hispanic\Latino populations, advised by Dr. Stephenson.
As an undergraduate student, I interned at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where I wrote code and analyzed experimental data collected for several projects focused on weapon stockpile safety and security. Although I found the work exciting and important, I was intrigued to study biostatistics when I learned about the health disparities experienced by Native Americans and other minority populations in New Mexico. In my first biostatistics research project, I helped estimate the prevalence of medical conditions in Native American communities using electronic medical records; information that was previously unknown. It was extremely rewarding to witness a positive change in the community, based on my work, and has ultimately influenced my decision to pursue a Ph.D. In addition to my interest in health disparities, I became interested in studying environmental statistics in order to understand the chemical, biological, and physical environmental stressors that can affect health. While at HSPH, I look forward to learning and creating risk assessment models and methods for analyzing the health effects of complex environmental mixtures.
During my free time, I like to play volleyball, dance, travel, and nap. I am excited to continue my educational career at HSPH and look forward to future collaborations.