“I know I made the right decision coming to CSUMB,” said Lilyana Gross. “The school and the faculty have gotten me where I am today.”
That would be Harvard, where she is spending the summer at the School of Public Health’s Department of Biostatistics, taking classes in epidemiology and working on statistical methods used in HIV/AIDS research.
Gross, a senior from Oceanside, spent last summer at North Carolina State University, conducting research on the spread of illicit drugs by modeling methamphetamine use as a disease moving through the population.
Both placements came through CSUMB’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center or UROC, where she is a McNair Scholar. She’s quick to point out that the mentorship she has received through UROC has been critical to her success.
“My mentor, Dr. Judith Canner, and other faculty at UROC have taught me that I have the strength, ability and capacity to attain my career and academic goals,” she said.
Those goals include entering a doctoral program in mathematics and statistics with applications to biology and public health. Her career goals are to become a university faculty member, conduct biostatistics research and mentor students.
Volleyball brought her to CSUMB. “I was recruited to play for the Otters. Though I had a handful of schools recruiting me, I committed to CSUMB because of the fantastic biology program,” she said. The university’s proximity to the beach didn’t hurt, and she also liked the “culture emphasizing the empowerment of first-generation, low-income students.”
Her switch to math came about “serendipitously,” she said, when two things happened: she realized she enjoyed the math component of her science classes, and “Professor Heath Proskin’s enthusiasm in multivariate calculus inspired me," she said.