June 30, 2023
Sandra Tilmon is a graduate of the MS in Applied Data Science part-time program in the Physical Sciences Division. She is originally from Philadelphia, PA, but now resides in Chicago.
What is your current job?
University of Chicago, Biological Sciences Division - Data for the Common Good, Healthcare Data Scientist
What were you doing before you started the master’s program?
Working as an Epidemiologist in Pediatrics
What were the top factors that went into your decision to choose the MS in Applied Data Science Program at UChicago?
- I wanted to expand my work projects into new areas;
- Data science is more efficient than biostatistics; and
- UChicago is an amazing school.
What was one of your favorite aspects of being a student at UChicago?
Being part of some amazing teams. I learned a lot from colleagues with different backgrounds, talents, and interests.
In your view, how has the MS in Applied Data Science degree advanced your career so far?
Because of this program, I have my dream job working on large-scale machine learning in healthcare.
What was one of your favorite classes you took at UChicago and why?
It is hard to choose! Data Mining was the class that made me feel like I was really on my way to becoming a data scientist.
What advice would you give to prospective students who are seeking a master’s degree in data science?
Know why you want to go into data science. If you have a current field, what is the current state of analytics, and what would data science bring to it?
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I’m taking pottery classes and enjoy how challenging (completely impossible) it is. It’s the exact opposite of the workday and requires all of your concentration, so it’s a great break.
What excites you right now about the field of data science?
I feel like a lot of people will say ChatGPT and the other LLMs, but I’m more excited about efforts to bring more underrepresented students into the field, like the UChicago Data Science Institute’s Summer Lab, which provides a social environment and mentoring as well as learning about data science.
What is one piece of advice would you give to prospective students?
Panic early (that is, when you get the assignment) rather than waiting to panic until the day before it’s due.