MDS Spotlight: Meet Ela Bandari, MDS Vancouver, Class of 2021

It was during her undergraduate degree in behavioural neuroscience at UBC where Ela Bandari was introduced to the world of experimental design and data analysis. Seeing this world led Bandari to the UBC Master of Data Science program, as she saw it to be the perfect opportunity to further her understanding of these topics.

“MDS was a perfect combination of all of my academic interests. I also strongly value learning and working in a collaborative setting and MDS’ emphasis on community and collaboration aligned with my personal values and learning preferences,” said Bandari.

Ela Bandari Headshot

In addition to the above, Bandari really liked that MDS was only 10-months and the breadth of topics covered in its curriculum. As well, Bandari really liked that MDS is a “welcoming program to someone like myself who comes from a non-technical background.” 

Another benefit of the program, said Bandari, was that the MDS program teaches students to take a broad question and turn it into a more specific one that can be investigated with data science tools and techniques.  

Working with real data during labs was also beneficial to Bandari.

“The labs were the best way to cement the topics learned in classes. I refer back to them while working on projects now,” she added.

The capstone project, which occurs in the last two months of the program, was also something that Bandari enjoyed especially since her project was directly related to medicine, her field of interest.

“It was very rewarding to put the skills I had learned in the 8 months of classes into practice and build a product that could improve patient care,” Bandari said. “I was able to work in a cross-disciplinary team and observe what a successful collaboration between healthcare professionals and data scientists can look like.”

Now that the 10-months are over, Bandari is taking an unconventional path as she will be furthering her education by starting medical school at the University of Western Ontario in the fall. 

While Bandari may not be in job market right now, she will be looking for opportunities where she can leverage both her data science and medical knowledge as she believes there is a need for folks who can speak both the language of medicine and data science.

“I have gained a broad knowledge base and technical skillset that will serve me in my future career. The combination of the technical knowledge that I have gained through MDS and the knowledge that I will gain in my medical training, will put me in a unique position at the intersection of data science and medicine.” 

Ela’s Top 3 Tips on Succeeding in the MDS Program

1.    Seek community. Connecting with your peers and finding like-minded individuals makes learning fun and allows you to gain more from the program. 
2.    Set your priorities. The accelerated rate of this program means that you have a limited amount of time to dedicate to engagements outside of your coursework. It is helpful to set and be conscious of your priorities to help decide between different opportunities that may arise such as attending guest lectures, participating in hackathons or starting personal projects.   
3.    Trust yourself and the process. This program is challenging and most students will feel stressed or overwhelmed at some point. It is important to trust that you are capable of successfully completing the coursework and that the courses are designed to support your learning.

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