Student Story

Using Data Science to Analyze COVID-19 with Ismah Ahmed '22

Ismah Ahmed ’22 is a data science and analytics major at Simmons. “I wanted to exercise my skills in statistics, mathematics, and programming,” she says, “and found the data science program was the best fit for me. Data science can be applied in a wide range of careers and fields, which will allow me to explore career choices post-graduation.”

Data science has already proved vital during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Ahmed has classroom experience with the research. “For my ‘Introduction to Data Science’ class, I analyzed a Kaggle dataset, ‘Covid-19 and Healthy Living.’”

Kaggle provides public datasets for analysis so researchers and students can access published data and draw conclusions from the analysis. “I looked at obesity and mortality rate during the COVID-19 pandemic. There is still so much we don’t know about the virus, so this project was particularly fascinating.”

Ahmed also analyzed the data visualizations and predictive models she created using R, a free software that provides a language and environment for statistical computing and graphics. “The topic was quite complex and really challenged me to use the data science skills that I learned throughout the semester.”

Though the pandemic offers interesting avenues of research, it has also transformed Ahmed’s Simmons experience. “Online learning has its pros and cons,” she says. “Overall, I found the experience eye-opening.” Ahmed shares a few tips for navigating online learning this semester:

  • Don’t delay: “It can be really easy to move assignments to the last minute, but that it is the last thing you want to do with online learning because asynchronous work can pile up pretty quickly.”
  • Reach out: “Reaching out to classmates for advice has been really helpful.”
  • Talk to your professors: “I’m extremely appreciative of how flexible my professors have been during this virtual online learning experience.”

Ahmed has become more confident in her ability to navigate online learning after the fall semester. “It can be challenging balancing asynchronous work and your personal life, but it is doable with time management and prioritization.”

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