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Sommer Scholars

David Lenis, PhD, MA

  • Country of Origin: Argentina
  • PhD '17, Biostatistics

If you are fortunate enough to attend university and study what you love, I believe you should use that knowledge to impact the lives of others—and I truly hope my work in biostatistics will help improve people’s lives. After years studying economics, I took a Statistical Inference course in graduate school with Dr. Andrea Rotnitzky, who also teaches at the Harvard School of Public Health. Her rigorous presentation of the topic along with her focus on real-world applications of statistics was enlightening. I remember saying, “This is it; this is what I want to do. This is what I always should have been doing.” We are constantly faced with public health issues we want to better understand, and it is solving these problems or finding better solutions that motivates me. Additionally, we live in an age where we have more data at our fingertips than ever before. It’s critical to analyze this information with the right tools, models and knowledge. If a statistician is careful with data analysis, it is possible to directly impact public health. Biostatistics help us make informed decisions about everything from genetics to brain scans. It allows the scientific community to answer all manner of questions, such as which cancer treatment will best prolong a patient’s life? Can the impact of a particular intervention be assessed? Should a drug be approved for the public? At my university in Buenos Aires, I was often advised to continue my advanced studies in economics despite my passion for statistics. I am grateful Dr. Rotnitzky convinced me otherwise. She taught me a valuable lesson, stressing that if a person cares about something deeply, it will be impossible for him or her to be bad at it, and telling me, "If you are doing what you love, everything will be okay."

Current Position

Quantitative Scientist, Flatiron