Madhumitha Periyasamy is currently a senior engaging in research for the Pharis Fellowship program. The Pharis Fellowship program is a 10-week undergraduate research program, which is provided by the Data Analytics in Student Hands (DASH) program.
Madhumitha is a computer information systems major with double minors in data science and business administration. She discussed changing majors and career paths, and how this fellowship impacted her outlook for the future.
- Previously, you were a pre-pharmacy major. Why did you decide to change your major to computer information systems?
MP: I switched over from my pre-pharmacy track after receiving acceptance into pharmacy schools. A lot of people wondered why I would change my career so drastically after putting in all the work towards garnering a spot in a pharmacy school. I’ve always been interested in healthcare, which is what led me down the pharmacy path. As I progressed, it felt like it was more stressful than anything, and that I wasn’t experiencing the happiness or satisfaction I expected.
I still carried that long-term interest towards the field of healthcare I had nursed for years. In the meantime, I was dabbling in some recreational programming, and I realized how enjoyable and satisfying it was to write and run computer programs that possessed the capability to produce what looked like magic to me. This moment that made me realize that maybe I would be happier as a CIS major, then I changed my major. I still believe making that choice was a good idea for me.
- How did you discover this fellowship? What inspired you to join it?
MP: Last year was my first year as an official CIS major, and one of my CIS professors was Peggy Lindner, Ph.D. I was interested in finding research opportunities in the field that could help me get a better boost into the technicalities behind data science since that was and still is an area of great interest for me.
When I approached Lindner with my interests and aspirations, she suggested I apply to the Pharis Fellowship program and that it would be great for me. Her words encouraged me to apply to the program. It made me enthusiastic about being able to possibly participate in a research group that focused on data science applications in real-life situations.
- Explain your project. In what ways will it impact the community?
MP: My project focuses on the pathways of patients that die within 30 days of having Clostridium Difficile Infection (CDI). I compare that to the patients that do not die directly after CDI. These results can flag future CDI patients for a higher risk of mortality. Currently, there’s no viable system that is present or followed that allows for the identification of severity within a CDI patient’s infection until it’s too late.
I believe that my research could help clinicians and other healthcare providers take large-scale preventive measures towards CDI patients who may be at a higher risk of mortality from CDI at earlier stages of infection. It would be a very impactful thing to be able to do because CDI is a widely transmitted infection in America, and many people suffer severe consequences from it yearly.
- What are your future goals? How will this project affect your goals and potential career path?
MP: I plan to continue developing my project in the next few months. Working on this research this summer has helped me gain a sense of what exploratory data analysis is and how research can be such a rewarding process.
My project, along with the experiences I learned during the Pharis Fellowship, has piqued my interest in pursuing future research. I hope the development of my current project will lead me to the path of combining my computer science skills with my interest in healthcare. This past summer and my project have opened up a new career path for me, and I’m very excited to pursue it!
- Why should other students join this fellowship?
MP: This fellowship has a plethora of opportunities and lessons to learn. The mentors are sincerely devoted to making sure the fellows perform to their best ability, and their ideas and passions shine through the research projects. The guided freedom the fellowship program establishes with the students is innovative and different from typical research programs. This is one of the influencing reasons to take part in the Pharis Fellowship. I’ve developed personally and professionally by being a Pharis fellow. I believe future students would come out of the program feeling the same way!