2023 Annual Symposium

Pipelines Into Biostatistics Annual Symposium

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Thursday, July 13, 2023

Breakfast and Opening Remarks in Kresge G3                               

Marcello Pagano
Professor of Statistical Computing and Principal Investigator, HSPH

John Quackenbush
Henry Pickering Walcott Professor of Computational Biology &

Department Chair of Biostatistics, HSPH

Summer Program in Biostatistics and Computation Biology Research Project Presentations in Kresge G3

10:00 – 10:20am            Exploring the Causal Effect of Wildfire Exposures on School Performances in USA

There are an estimated 7.4 million children in the United States affected bywildfire smoke
annually. In parts of the USA, up to 20% of the fine particulate matter to which children are

exposed, results from wildfires. Literature suggests that TRAPs exposure can lead to cognitive

and socioeconomic decline. We obtained a copy of the publicly accessible data published by

Wen & Burke (2022) in which they quantified the impact of wildfire-smoke-attributable PM2.5

exposure, a rapidly growing source of particulate exposure throughout much of the United

States. We analyzed the data with the application of a novel method utilized in the publication

by McGrath et al. (2022); that allows the use of causal inference frameworks when working with

spatiotemporal data. Linear regression models were used to identify the relationship between

smoke exposure alongside Math and ELA scores for school districts in the United States; while

also incorporating exploratory data analysis that allowed us to develop conclusions and

suggestions after we measured the strengths and reliability of this methodology.

Sophia C. Delgado Astacio, University of Puerto Rico
Luis Bonilla, Salem State University

Cade McManus, Harvard College

Faculty mentor:Dr. Rajarshi Mukherjee, Assistant Professor of Biostatistics and
Assistant Director of Graduate Studies, HSPH

Graduate Student Mentor:
Sean McGrath, HSPH

10:25 – 10:45am             Is Preoperative Malnutrition Associated with Poor Surgical Outcomes in Young        Children Undergoing Ventricular Septal Defect Closure in Low-Resourced Settings?

A ventricular septal defect (VSD) is an opening in the wall of the heart separating the right and

left ventricles that affects approximately 3 out of every 1000 live births. When left unrepaired,

VSD may lead to severe cardiovascular disease. However, certain patients face a greater risk of

poor outcomes after congenital heart surgery than others, especially those in low to middle

income countries (LMIC), where access to the surgery is limited. In addition to previously

determined risk factors, the current study aims to determine whether the nutrition level of VSD-

inflicted patients in LMICs is also a risk factor for adverse surgical outcomes. Using data from the

registry for the International Quality Improvement Collaborative for Congenital Heart Disease

(IQIC), the study conducts tests on contingency tables and employs regression modeling to

establish a potential relationship between malnourishment indicators defined by the World

Health Organization (WHO)—stunting, being underweight, and wasting—-and post-operative

complications—in-hospital mortality, major infections, and length of stay in the intensive care

unit (ICU). Results suggest that, in general, malnourished patients are significantly more likely to

encounter adverse surgical outcomes than non-malnourished patients, even after adjusting for

age, pre-existing illness, and oxygen saturation.

Brandon Causing, University of Florida
Jaiann Caton, Spelman College

Faculty Mentor:Dr. Kimberlee Gauvreau, Associate Professor in the Department of Biostatistics,
HSPH, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, HMS

Graduate Student Mentor:
Jenny Lee, HSPH


10:50 – 11:10am                  Classifying Ethnicity with SNP Scoring Algorithms

What are the genetic underpinnings of ethnicity? Phenotypic data has been historically used to
classify people, but remains insufficient because many differences are too subtle to show up

with simple measurements. Genotypic data, specifically single nucleotide polymorphisms

(SNPs), can accurately predict the genetic ancestry of any given individual by measuring the

levels of the major and minor alleles for each base pair. Motivated by this, we explored a dataset

of 88 million SNPs from 2000 people with 26 labeled ethnicities, which was collected by the

1000 Genome Project. Our exploratory analysis used principal component analysis to visualize

genetic variance, and a SNP scoring algorithm to accurately predict ethnicity for an individual in

a homogenous population. Between several clusters of genetically isolated populations were

swathes of intermediate, or admixed, populations. Taking inspiration from the 23andMe

ethnicity composition algorithm, we used a linear regression model to transform the binary

choice of a single ethnicity label into percentages of each region an individual originated from.

This spectrum of possibilities paints a more nuanced picture of ethnic diversity within an


Maya Abdalla, Emmanuel College
Adam Genda, B.S. in Biology, University of Northwestern

Selma Chamime Skiba, Simmons University

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Rafael Irizarry, Professor of Biostatistics, DFCI, HSPH
Graduate Student Mentor:
Madhav Sankaranarayanan, HSPH

Fostering Advancement & Careers through Enrichment Training in Science (FACETS) Research Project Presentations in Kresge G3

11:15 – 11:25am             Identifying social environmental stressors that increase risk for preeclampsia in Black and Hispanic birthing people

Gene Pozas, University of Florida
Research Mentor:
Dr. Brittney Francis
Group Leader:
Heather Alexis Olden

11:30 – 11:40am           
Evaluating a Risk Assessment Tool for Metals In Personal Care Products as Endocrine Disruptors

Monika Malaka-Kajangu, North Carolina Agricultural & Technical University
Research Mentor:
Dr. Tamarra James-Todd
Group Leader:
Heather Alexis Olden

11:45 – 11:55am            
From Choice To Crisis: Examining Racial Differences In Responses To Fentanyl Use In Healthcare

Serenity Greene, Clark Atlanta University
Research Mentor
: Dr. Marie Plaisime
Group Leader:
Heather Alexis Olden

Keynote Speaker and Lunch in FXB Atrium

12:00 – 1:00pm

Monica L. Wang, ScD
Associate Professor of Community Health Sciences

Boston University School of Public Health

Fostering Advancement & Careers through Enrichment Training in Science (FACETS) Research Project Presentations Continued in Kresge G3

1:15 – 1:25pm              Community Engaged Research: An Evaluation of an Environmental Justice Workshop on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals in Personal Care Products

Humza Irfan, University of Michigan
Research Mentor: Dr. Tamarra James-Todd

Group Leader: Anusha Venkatesh

1:30 – 1:40pm             Assessing the Efficacy of Perinatal Care for Black Women: A Review of the QI tools, MADM, PCPC, and PREM-OB by Constructs

Kahini Patel, New York University

Research Mentor:
Dr. Brittney Francis
Group Leader:
Anusha Venkatesh

1:45 – 1:55pm         
Mindfulness: The Influence of Meditation Practices to Address Perceived Stress and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease Among Black Women

Camila Maldonado, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras

Research Mentor:
Dr. Marie Plaisime
Group Leader:
Anusha Venkatesh

2:00 – 2:10pm         
Invisible and Overlooked: Barriers undocumented African immigrant patients face in accessing healthcare services

Rofiat Olasunkanmi, New York University

Research Mentor: Dr. Marie Plaisime

Group Leader: Azariah Boyd

2:15 – 2:25pm        
Cost Analysis of Preeclampsia Disparities Among Black Women

Braulio Gonzalez, University of Pennsylvania

Research Mentor: Dr. Brittney Francis

Group Leader: Azariah Boyd

2:30 – 2:40pm         
Good Hair or No Hair: An Examination of the Impossible Hair Choices Black Women Adversely Face

Shana Grant, Spelman College

Research Mentor:
Dr. Tamarra James-Todd
Group Leader:
Azariah Boyd
Closing Remarks in Kresge G3

2:45 – 3:00pm

Amarildo “Lilu” Barbosa

Chief Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging Officer, HSPH
Closing Reception in FXB Atrium

3:00 – 5:00pm