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Cool STEM Job: Biostatistician

Tennessee is a great place to pursue a STEM career. But don’t just take our word for it. To inspire the state’s next generation of technological leaders to pursue STEM careers, the TSIN is collecting profiles of people already working in STEM in Tennessee.

Meet Jennifer.

Jennifer Thompson, Vanderbilt University

  1. Location: Nashville
  2. 002_Jennifer ThompsonJob Title, Company: Biostatistician, Vanderbilt University
  3. In 25 words or fewer, what do you do? I help design and analyze data from medical studies to improve patient care and learn about how the brain works in very sick ICU patients.
  4. The best thing about your job: I work with doctors who really care about their patients and about improving their health, and I get to learn a lot about the scientific aspects of my data. Plus I get to see my name in print and make awesome pictures.
  5. Tools you work with to do your job: Mainly statistical software called R.
  6. Path you took to get this job: I majored in math in college and then earned a master’s degree in biostatistics.
  7. Favorite subjects in school: Aside from math, I really liked English and Spanish. I also loved the public health classes I took for my master’s degree.
  8. Subjects and skills from school that you use in your job now: Obviously I use a lot of math, but I also use my English classes all the time when I write and edit our papers. I also use my programming classes. I use a different programming language for statistics than I did in my computer programming courses, but the skills I learned in those classes help me a lot now.
  9. Advice for students who want to do what you do: Take stats and biology courses whenever you can, take some basic computer programming, and learn to communicate well in writing and in person. People think I sit at a computer all day, but I spend half my time explaining what I’ve done and what it means to other people, so communication is extremely important!

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