A 2010-11 graduate of our ScM program, Nathan James wrote his thesis, "Quantifying Walking Path Quality Using an Objective Measure of Physical and Social Disorder," under the direction of Frank Curriero. He is a research associate in the Department of Surgery in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Nathan has recently decided to continue his education by pursuing a Ph.D. in Biostatistics in Fall 2016.
How did you get interested in the field of biostatistics? What was your background before enrolling at Hopkins?
My background was in math and statistics. Before enrolling at Hopkins I spent several years working as a statistical analyst at the Pennsylvania Department of Health. That position exposed me to the way in which biostatistics could have a positive impact on policy, clinical practice, and individuals.
How did Johns Hopkins Biostatistics prepare you for your career? What aspects of the program did you find most useful?
Johns Hopkins has been helpful in several ways. First, it provided a statistical foundation and set of practical tools that I still use on almost a daily basis. I also learned how to better interact with collaborators and interpret statistical results in a way that is useful to address the underlying scientific questions.
What are your favorite memories of your time at Johns Hopkins Biostatistics?
I definitely enjoyed the camaraderie within the department. One great example was Tea Time where students, postdocs, and faculty could get together to discuss all kinds of issues in an informal setting.
What advice would you give to prospective students?
Take the initiative to explore questions you’re interested in and spend some time learning about different areas of statistics, public health, and medicine by attend working groups, seminars, talks in other departments, etc.
Describe your current position and responsibilities in a way that will inform prospective students about career opportunities in Biostatistics.
I’ve had a few positions since graduating from Hopkins. I worked for 3 years in the Department of Surgery at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine where I collaborated with faculty, post-doctoral fellows, and other researchers on study design, analysis, interpretation and writing for grants and manuscripts related to kidney and liver transplantation. I’ve also worked for a small statistical consulting company and a larger contract research organization. In both of these roles I was responsible for implementing statistical methodology and communicating study results through reports, presentations, and manuscripts.
What reasons might you give to encourage a prospective student to get a master’s Biostatistics degree at Hopkins?
There are so many opportunities out there for those with well-developed quantitative skills. I’ve worked in a variety of positions since graduating and a master’s degree from Hopkins has given me the skills and flexibility to perform well and make important contributions at each position.