Uma Sarder

M.S. Data Science

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M.S. Data Science

M.S. Biomedical Data Science

Ph.D. Biomedical Data Science

Like most people during the COVID-19 pandemic, Uma Sarder closely followed news on the spread of infection. She soon realized that she was in fact following the world’s most popular data story.

“I would just open that world meter on my computer,” says Sarder, “and see all this important data. It was fascinating to see how they were collecting information based on all the COVID data.”

Sarder, had previously worked as a system engineer at NovoCom Limited, focusing on network planning and transmission. But the pandemic opened her eyes to the power of data.

“I was intrigued by the power of data-driven insight to shape decision making and solve complex problems,” says Sarder. “I decided to transition to data science.”

She dug headfirst into preparing herself for a graduate program in data science.

“I have a bachelor’s degree in electronics and communication engineering from Khulna University, a leading public university in Bangladesh,” she explains. “But I did not have a background in the programming languages and statistics I would need for a graduate program.”

Sarder engaged in self-directed learning through platforms like Coursera, DataCamp, and Google. She also took a six-week Python course through Stanford. This preparation, undertaken over two years, equipped her with a solid foundation in statistics, Python programming, SQL, data preprocessing, data visualization, and data manipulation.

In the Fall of 2023, Sarder began pursuing the Master of Science in Data Science degree at Meharry SACS.

Her preparation helped her meet the challenges in the classroom, a learning experience that she has really enjoyed.

“I like the online classes, but the learning experience doesn’t feel like other online classes because they are live,” says Sarder.

“The teachers are more engaging in class, asking and answering questions and providing feedback while we work as a group,” she explains.

She is also gaining practical experience early in the program as a research associate for Aize Cao, Ph.D., associate professor, biomedical data science.

“We are exploring the All of Us dataset to identify and understand the phenotype and social determinants of health factors contributing to cardiovascular disease risks among women with substance use disorder,” says Sarder. “Currently, we are focused on designing cohorts and cleaning and processing the data.”

In October 2023, she attended the Observational Health Data Sciences & Informatics (OHDSI) Global Symposium in New Jersey with Dr. Cao. She enjoyed the opportunity to network, learn from others, and gain exposure to various models and approaches.

The experience had a lasting impact.

“Meeting so many people who are doing similar work, and learning about their success gave me confidence that I can also do it,” she says. “I hope to return next year and present a paper.”

That confidence, along with her research and classroom experience, will surely provide a huge boost as she looks forward to her data science career.

“I hope to graduate from Meharry with distinction, complete a compelling capstone project and ultimately enjoy a career working with medical data in the health care industry,” she says. “I want to explore how artificial intelligence and machine learning can contribute to addressing longstanding health challenges.”