W&J senior accepted to seven top biostatistics programs across nation

Created: April 28, 2021
Last Updated: April 28, 2021

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WASHINGTON, PA (April 28, 2021)—Elisa Yazdani ’21 didn’t expect to be in this situation when she began her Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) experience.

Elisa entered the College intending to become a physician but influenced by her chemistry and psychology double major and mathematics minor, she found a new passion for biostatistics. With multiple research internship experiences, a lab assistantship, and teaching assistantship for Dr. Jason Kilgore’s Applied Statistics for Life Sciences course, Elisa made herself a prime candidate for biostatistics graduate programs across the nation, earning acceptance into seven programs. She’s chosen to pursue a Ph.D. in biostatistics at Vanderbilt University.

“Like many other students at W&J, I came in wanting to be a medical doctor because I thought that was the only way to improve people’s lives in health, but I’ve realized there’s a whole field in biomedical research and there’s so much work to be done. I feel biostatistics is at the heart of that, and I really can’t wait to get started,” Elisa said.

W&J provided support for Elisa through the Magellan Project and Maxwell Internship Fund that gave her the ability to forge her own path and define her dreams.

“I always tell people at W&J and any prospective students, that’s something you’re not going to find at other universities or colleges. I think it’s an incredible opportunity that W&J gives to students to have these experiences,” she said.

One such experience was a research assistant position in a Vanderbilt University lab at the Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery that ultimately helped Elisa decide where she wanted to pursue her graduate education. In the lab, she worked on drug discovery projects to help treat schizophrenia, while other concurrent research in the lab allowed her to observe drug development of potential treatments for Parkinson’s Disease and Rett’s Syndrome, among others.

Her W&J classes gave her the background she needed to succeed in the lab setting, and she was able to apply techniques she learned from her W&J professors. Elisa also learned skills that helped her in ways she didn’t even know she’d need. A digital media course taught by Dr. Sam Fee helped her learn graphic design skills that she’s used for poster presentations and information design when sharing the results of her research.

“One of the reasons I chose W&J and I’m so happy I did is because of the small class sizes and my ability to interact with professors has been crucial—not only for my academic growth, but my personal growth as well,” Elisa said. “The professors challenge us because they want us to become best students possible, but they’re there to guide us, and encourage us, and help us when times get tough.”

After completing her education, Elisa plans to pursue a career as a biostatistician.

About Washington & Jefferson College
Washington & Jefferson College, proudly located in Washington, Pa., is a historic liberal arts college founded in 1781 that values ethical leadership, professional readiness, and inclusive communities. Our highly customized and intellectually engaging student experience develops professionals of uncommon integrity to lead in an ever-changing world. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY

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