Jeff Joseph.

Harvard School of Public Health, Biostatistics Department - Boston, MA

Project Description

Peter Buck Internship Fund Recipient

A teen went from playing soccer in the streets of a third world country to attending a research program at Harvard University in a 7-year span. This has the potential to be the summary of an Oscar-wining movie, except it is really not. This is my journey. As a child, the neighbors referred to children like me as ti jwè, which literally translates as “little player” but actually carries the connotation that the little player is not interested/is not good at anything other than playing soccer.

While their assessment of me as passionate about soccer was correct, they were completely wrong when they thought nothing else interested me. Other than soccer, mathematics has always been the one thing that interests me. I still remember, as an 8 year-old, being the one weird kid in the class that would be excited over an additional assignment. When I moved to the United States in the middle of my 7th grade year, I met some teachers whose passion for mathematics matched mine. I was allowed to take more than one math course per year, which helped deepen my desire to acquire more mathematical knowledge. The same thing happened in high school, I met some teachers who enjoyed learning and solving mathematical puzzles just as much as I do.

When the opportunity arose for me to conduct Biostatistics, and Epidemiology research at Harvard School of Public Health, there was no doubt in my mind that I would take advantage of it to learn as much as possible in this particular field. As a freshman I took a course linking numerical observations to biology (Biomathematics) and I really enjoyed it so maybe this research experience will help me decide whether this is the right career for me.

Also when Professor O’Brien offered me the opportunity to conduct additional research at the end of the summer I could not have been more excited. After concluding the program at Harvard this summer, I will be conducting Metagenomics research with the help and under the careful supervision of Professor O’Brien. Metagenomics is a relatively new sequencing method that researchers use to approximate the frequency of microbial species found in an environmental sample. Although I am not sure whether these two research opportunities will be enjoyable, one thing is certain and it is the fact that my desire to learn and my work ethic will be incontestable every day. This summer has the potential to be a career defining summer for me because I will either see myself working as researchers in such fields or not in the future.

I am truly excited for the upcoming summer. I will be doing what I love the most and that is learning more about mathematics in its many modern forms. My biggest excitement though is the fact that I will be at Harvard School of Public Health because I aspire to earn a degree there at some point after Bowdoin. Maybe this is normal and is expected of the average Bowdoin student but when neither of your parents graduated high school, it is a pretty big deal whenever your name is associated with a world-renown institution like Harvard. I cannot wait for a summer of intellectual and personal growth.

Project Details

  • Date October 16, 2017
  • Tags 2017, Buck, Science, Sophomore, USA

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