BS in Health Data Science Student
Major: Health Data Science
Rebecca Gorman, a health data science student at the IU Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health, was working with the research team in the Department of Environmental Health at FSPH when she discovered their need for an intern.
“They wanted someone to create two apps for them to use with their research,” Rebecca said. “They thought I would be the perfect person to do this since I already had a pretty extensive knowledge of R programming.”
Completing an internship is a requirement of the HDS program, but Rebecca said she is glad for it.
“I am glad it's required because it gives students the chance to really apply their knowledge outside of class and see how all of the topics we learn in the program apply to real-world problems.”
Rebecca is a double-major in health data science and environmental health science, which is why she chose to complete this internship. She had the opportunity to work with environmental health-related data, “which was really exciting.” Her responsibilities during the summer-long internship consisted of creating two Shiny web applications utilizing the R programming language.
“The first app I made was for researchers to use to better visualize a large dataset containing patient data from local hospitals,” Rebecca said.
Researchers will then use the app Rebecca created to assess trends in relation to factors caused by climate change, such as increased cases of asthma due to an increase in air pollution.
“The second app I created was a dashboard that will supplement the team's current website,” she said.”
By using a Shiny app for this, the team is able to better display and update their data and map visualizations. It also allows for easier sharing to local stakeholders, community members, and government officials, as well as easier viewing on different devices (laptop, smartphone, tablet, etc.).
While she had a brief overview of Shiny web applications prior to starting the internship, Rebecca said creating the apps using R programming was fairly new to her.
“The major new thing I learned through this internship was how to create Shiny web applications using R,” Rebecca said. “I had only had a brief overview of them from one of our hackathons, so I had to teach myself how to create, edit, and deploy them to the web over the course of the summer.”
Rebecca believes the skills and topics she is learning in the HDS program are what helped her during this internship, specifically data wrangling and cleaning.
“Having a better sense of the data I was working with and being able to form it to the needs of the researchers was a huge part of this job, and having prior experience doing that kind of stuff in class, and at hackathons, was really helpful,” she said.
After graduating, Rebecca originally had plans of going to graduate school for epidemiology; however, completing this internship has shifted her educational and career goals.
“I realized how much fun it is to explore data and create things that are useful, and that many people can understand. I have decided now to apply to the MS in Applied Data Science program here at IUPUI and pursue a career in data science in the public health field.”
Rebecca’s dream job is to work in an informatics/data science role for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).