Student Blog: Roxanna Shaik
Using Data Science to Understand the Human Brain
Roxanna Shaik

Nov. 29, 2017 — At the start of my sophomore year, I decided to switch my major to data science — the newest degree program in the Donald Bren School of ICS at UCI. If you’re wondering what data science is, to put it simply, it is the union of statistics and computer science. The exponential growth of data has presented us with a novel opportunity to craft vast amounts of information into something useful.

My decision to switch to data science was driven by a presentation in one of my computer science classes that examined an analysis of self-driving cars and the difficulties faced during execution. I was motivated by seeing the momentous power data analytics held. I wanted to implement code that could help individuals explore future possibilities.

Currently, I am a part of a research group with Professor Wayne Hayes that focuses on biological network alignment. Using graph theory to express the networks and analyze the data, we are working to unveil a deeper understanding of evolution, biology and disease. I am working with brain networks to discover patterns between control groups and between individuals with certain conditions. I feel inspired by this opportunity to understand the functions of the human brain and body in ways once thought impossible. This work should benefit the medical community and ultimately improve the lives of individuals, one network at a time.

Roxanna Shaik is a third-year Data Science major.

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