An August 12 headline in Nature magazine announced that “Two Ebola drugs show promise amid ongoing outbreak,” referring to the recent resurgence of the virus in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
While a cure for Ebola might be imminent, the disease continues to spread sickness and death. A recent internship with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI), a research center based at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, gave Clark University student Archit Goyal ’21 a chance to help lessen its impact.
Goyal, a Clark Traina Scholar majoring in computer science, assisted HHI’s Michael de St. Aubin with the development of de St. Aubin’s Ebola Outbreak Response Simulator, software that merges geographical and social data to help humanitarian workers visualize and evaluate options for predicting and mitigating Ebola outbreaks in specific geographic regions. Goyal debugged the software, suggesting ways to run the simulations faster and more efficiently, and adding some additional features, including a way to automate the tedious data entry process.
“I loved working with Michael. It’s been a great experience,” says Goyal. He learned of the internship opportunity from his adviser Li Han, chair of Clark’s Department of Mathematics and Computer Science.
“Professor Han encouraged me to apply,” he says, “and before the interview, she sent me an email with interview tips and some kind words cheering me and telling me to believe in myself. She always meets with her students to check on how they are doing in class, where they can improve, and how they should look out for their interests and career.”
The first person to interview Goyal for the position was Saira Khan ’17, M.S. ’18, an imagery analyst at HHI.
“Saira got me really excited about working at Harvard,” he recalls.
The internship with HHI is the third of three experiential learning opportunities that Goyal has undertaken while at Clark. Previously he worked as an analyst with Ellington Management Group, a hedge fund headquartered in Connecticut. He also worked during the academic year as a paid research assistant for John Brown, professor in the Department of Economics, collecting online data and helping to visualize it.
“Clark has given me a platform to try different things,” Goyal says. “Over my two years at Clark, I have become exponentially better at investing my time fruitfully. And taking classes in different departments has sparked my interest in different things. My first economics class inspired me to do research on commodity markets. My philosophy class got me thinking about free will and how that corresponds to artificial intelligence. My creative actor class helped me overcome my inhibitions about public speaking. Clark has helped me be the better version of myself, a version that is more emphatic, confident, and driven.”
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