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Biostatistics Doctoral Student Profiles

Kelsey Alexovitz headshot

Kelsey Alexovitz, MA

Degrees: BS in Applied Mathematics & Statistics from Stony Brook University; MA in Biostatistics from Brown University; MBA in Management from Stony Brook University.

Research Interests:

  • Spatial statistics
  • Environmental health
  • Longitudinal data analysis

Professional Experience: Before beginning her PhD at Drexel, Kelsey worked as a statistical programmer at the Baltimore Research and Education Foundation on joint clinical trials with the VA and NIDA regarding substance abuse therapies.

Contact: or personal website

Ruby Bayliss

Degrees: BS in Mathematics from St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Research Interests:

  • Environmental health
  • Urban health
  • Health disparities

Professional Experience: Before starting the doctoral program in Biostatistics at Drexel, Ruby worked as a research assistant for Dr. Meghan Mason, where she analyzed the relationship between behaviors and exposures associated to pathogen carriage at a large community gathering.

Contact: or personal website

Saishi Cui headshot

Saishi Cui, MS

Degrees: BS in Biotechnology from Shandong University School of Life Science in China; MS in Biostatistics from Georgetown University.

Research Interests:

  • Omics data analysis
  • Machine learning methods employed in biomedical field
  • Statistical methods in Meta-analysis
  • Bayesian Inference

Professional Experience: Before beginning his study of Biostatistics, Saishi minored in Bioinformatics under the department of Biotechnology, and he was involved in a project about sequencing marine microbial genome. At Georgetown University, he worked on a project of which aimed to optimize the algorithm about intra-tumor heterogeneity from high-throughput DNA sequencing data, and he got involved in another practicum of meta-analysis about circulating cell-free DNA as a diagnosis and prognosis tool for prostate cancer.

Contact: or personal website

Shanika DeSilva headshot

Shanika DeSilva, MS

Degrees: BS in Biology and Chemistry from the University of Denver; MS in Biostatistics from Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health.

Shanika’s Focus: Currently, Shanika is a research assistant for the Diabetes LEAD Network at the Drexel Coordinating Center, which is aimed at assessing and understanding the geographic disparities of Type 2 diabetes across the United States.

Research Interests:

  • Causal inference
  • Spatial statistics
  • Statistical learning methods
  • Multivariate data analysis
  • Applications of statistics to the advancement of public health

Contact: or personal website

Jintong Hou, MS

Degrees: BS in Clinical Medicine from Capital Medical University, China; Master of Clinical Medicine from Capital Medical University, China; MS in Biostatistics from Drexel University

Focus: I am interested in applying statistical methods in the field of medicine and epidemiology. My master’s final project was to examine the Relationship between total oxytocin dose and the risk of primary cesarean section among low-risk women using lasso, generalized additive model and random forest.

Yuna Kim headshot

Yuna Kim, MS

Degrees: BS in Biology from State University of New York at Stony Brook; MS in Biostatistics from Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health.

Research Interests:

  • Development of statistical methodology and its application for drawing inferences from genetic data
  • Understanding the genetic basis of human diseases and traits
  • Translating the genetic basis into clinical application

Professional Experience: Before beginning her study of Biostatistics, Yuna worked in ovarian cancer drug resistance research as a research assistant at the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB) within the Biotherapeutics Translational Research Center.

Contact: or personal website

Darius McDaniel  headshot

Darius McDaniel, MSPH

Degrees: BS in Mathematics from Alabama A&M University; MSPH in Public Health Informatics from Emory University

Research Interests:

  • Health Disparities & Inequities
  • Statistical Consulting
  • Statistical/Machine Learning Methods
  • Clinical Trials

Professional Experience: Previously, Darius had served as a biostatistician and data scientist in the research areas of HIV, Tuberculosis, Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Alzheimer's clinical trials and most recently the Covid-19 pandemic response at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. He also was an instructor of biostatistics and R programming at Emory University.

Dominique McDaniel headshot

Dominique McDaniel, MS

Degrees: BS in Mathematics from Cheyney University; MS in Applied Statistics from West Chester University; MS in Mathematical Statistics from Purdue University

Dominique’s Focus: Currently Dominique is focused on the development of Estimands for Clinical Trials utilizing causal inference in a Bayesian setting.

Research Interests:

  • Bayesian Inference
  • Causal Inference
  • Clinical Trial – Development

Professional Experience: Prior to starting her doctoral studies, Dominique worked in the pharmaceutical industry at Eli Lilly & Company in Indianapolis, IN. At Lilly Dominique analyzed data from phase III Clinical Trials for biologic medicines. Also, she collaborated with study teams on Bayesian analysis, Clinical Trial simulation and personalized medicine approaches for treatments in early phase development.

Melissa Meeker headshot

Melissa Meeker

Degrees: BS in Mathematics and Computer Science with a concentration in Statistics from Ursinus College.

Melissa’s Focus: Melissa is drawn to biostatistics within public health by the complex web of biological, environmental, and societal factors that need to be dissected in order to understand how to prevent illness.

Research Interests:

  • Developing problem specific methods to handle complex human health data

Professional Experience: Previously, Melissa has worked within the Institute for Biomedical Informatics at the University of Pennsylvania on a project to extend a feature selection algorithm in the hopes of being able to identify what parts of our genetics may cause a certain disease.

Contact: or personal website

John Pluta headshot

John Pluta, MS

Degrees: BS in Psychology from Drexel University; MS in Biostatistics from University of Pennsylvania

John’s Focus: John’s doctoral work will focus on developing new methods for the analysis of genetic data.

Research Interests:

  • Statistical Genetics
  • Neuroimaging
  • Variable Selection

Professional Experience: For many years, John has worked as a research scientist focusing on data-intensive biological systems, namely human imaging and genetics.

 Guangzi Song headshot

Guangzi Song, MS

Degrees: MS in Biostatistics from Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health; DMD from the Jilin University, Norman Bethune School of Medicine, China.

Guangzi’s Focus: Guangzi has been working on the County Health Disparities for Philadelphia during her master’s studies. She enjoys collaborating with other students, faculty members and researchers. Previously, she became a licensed dentist.

Research Interests:

  • Statistical modeling development
  • Bayesian Inference
  • Spatial analysis
  • Bayesian analysis in clinical trials
  • Health disparities
  • Oral health

Contact: or personal website

 Yang Xu headshot

Yang Xu, MS

Degrees: BS in Economics at Hebei Finance University; MS in Applied Statistics at West Chester University; MS in Biostatistics at Drexel University

Research Interests:

  • Health Disparities
  • Violence and Trauma
  • Health disparities

Focus: I have strong interest in public health issues, which lead me to pursue a PhD degree in biostatistics. Specifically, I am interested in developing statistical approaches to help minority groups and vulnerable populations.

Professional Experience:. Previously, I worked at Healing Hurt People Program under Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice at Drexel University during my master’s studies. I applied and compared different missing data approaches to tackle missing values problem in the data.

Learn more about research and learning opportunities available with Drexel Dornsife’s Master of Science (MS) in Biostatistics and PhD in Biostatistics.