Adele Lauzon’s ROP399 Journey

Hi there! My name is Adele Lauzon, and I’ve just finished up my 3rd year at UofT with a major in statistics and minors in computer science and psychology. A huge highlight of my year has been my ROP399 with Professor Tyrell, where I got to do a deep dive into the intersection of statistics, computer science, and biomedical data.

A little bit about my background–I went to high school in Houston, Texas, which is where I first fell in love with statistics. I remember my AP Statistics teacher beginning our first class with a quote by esteemed statistician John Tukey, where he claimed statistics was the best discipline because it meant you got to “play in everyone’s backyard.” As I’ve gotten farther along in my statistics education, I’ve realized how much truth is behind that phrase. Statistics is wonderful because it allows you to understand other fields simply based on the data you use. Through this ROP, I’ve been able to learn a bit more about the field of medicine.

My project was about measures of confidence in binary classification algorithms using biomedical data. Specifically, I investigated error consistency and error agreement–meaning I took a close look at what was happening when the model was making incorrect predictions. I’m not going to lie, probably the hardest part of this project was just getting started. I have a little bit of programming experience due to my computer science minor, but I had a lot of catching up to do compared to my classmates. A word of advice–set yourself on the GPUs early. Running my code locally made for a frighteningly overheated laptop.

Probably my biggest takeaway from this course was how the process of research actually works. While the scientific method is helpful, it doesn’t account for all of the back-and-forth you are guaranteed to be doing. This is where documenting all of your steps really comes in handy. If you reach an obstacle and need to reevaluate, keep a record of what you were doing beforehand in case you need to regress again. I made this mistake, and ended up having to do some work that I had already done.

All in all, this ROP has been such a valuable experience to me. Many thanks to Professor Tyrrell and the rest of the MiDATA team for their unwavering patience!

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