Health Data Science journeys: student experiences
Some of our students talk about their lives before coming to Oxford, the decisions they made and the some of the experiences they have had along the way.
Felix Wagner (Cohort 3) reflects on how he pursued studies abroad to experience new challenges and discovered the potential of Health Data Science to solve healthcare problems and help society.
"I was raised in a little village in the Austrian countryside. As a result of my lifelong passion for Mathematics combined with my excitement for technology, I decided to move to Vienna after my mandatory military service to earn a Computer Science degree at the Vienna University of Technology. My Data Science master's programme in Vienna led to an ongoing passion for working with data.
I have always enjoyed travelling around the world. A scholarship enabled me to study in the USA for half a year. I wholeheartedly enjoyed experiencing new challenges like living in a different culture and taking classes in a new educational environment. After returning to Austria, I knew that my next goal was to pursue a PhD/DPhil abroad in the UK. An interdisciplinary Data Science project in the healthcare domain and my previous education showed me that the combination of Data Science and Medicine has the potential to solve healthcare problems and help society. The University of Oxford's pioneering Health Data Science CDT programme is the perfect programme for me to achieve this goal.
My passion for engineering transcends my professional and academic life. I am a passionate bass and guitar player in a rock band and am excited about composing and writing new songs. This artistic part of my life helps me to think outside of the box and provide creative solutions for my engineering problems. As a stereotypical Austrian, I enjoy spending my winters snowboarding in the mountains and eating a good Schnitzel."
Jack (Cohort 1) reflects on how after working in industry for a couple of years he decided to go back to studying data science at graduate level.
“My data science journey began as an undergrad, when I started my 4th year project as part of my biomedical engineering degree at Imperial. My project used python, computer vision and deep learning and it was the first time I properly used these things. I enjoyed the research process but was daunted by the idea of doing a PhD so I decided to apply for jobs in R&D.I was lucky enough to get a role at Samsung Research UK, as a machine learning engineer. I was able to spend a lot of my time reading research papers and after a year I decided that I wanted to join a PhD program so that I could have the freedom to work on big, open ended problems.
After many rejections from different PhD programs in the UK I was invited to apply for the new Health Data Science CDT at Oxford. My partner was already a couple of years into her PhD at Oxford and along with my biomedical engineering background it seemed like the perfect fit. I liked the interdisciplinary and ethics-focused approach of the course so decided to apply. Even though most of the first cohort arrived straight from finishing a master’s or bachelor’s degree, I felt at home immediately.”
Kan (Cohort 2) reflects on how he left his home in Thailand to study in the UK with the intention of returning home to put his knowledge to good use.
“I am Kan, a student from Thailand. When I was young, I craved a life of adventure, so I left my home and came to the UK on my own and joined a boarding school in York. I went on to complete a BSc MORSE at Warwick University and an MSc in Maths at Oxford. I enjoy the interdisciplinary nature of my studies particularly applying statistics to other major fields such as Economics, Business, Medicine, etc. Prior to joining the CDT programme, I had undertaken data science related projects across industries in both the UK and Thailand including social analysis, workforce, and healthcare. I noticed that the bridge between data science and medical sciences is severely lacking in my home country. So with financial support from my family, I took a bold move and applied to the CDT Health Data Science at University of Oxford in hopes of bringing the ground-breaking knowledge to Thailand when I complete my studies. The first year of the CDT programme has provided me with comprehensive training across statistics and different fields of medical sciences. I am now pursuing a DPhil project in neuroimaging led by the National Institutes of Health under supervision of Professor Thomas Nichols, which has opened up further training opportunities outside of the CDT. Aside from academic work I also enjoy a range of extracurricular activities in Oxford like caving (well not actually in Oxford!), wine-tasting, the Oxford Union and, of course, College formal dinner hopping, just to name a few.”