The inaugural 40 Under 40 Public Health Catalyst Awards aim to highlight the rising leaders and innovators of the public health field. The Boston Congress of Public Health (BCPH) and the HPHR Journal selected a group of “leaders, entrepreneurs, researchers, scientists, activists”, and doctors that will inspire the next generations of public health workers to change the world. The individuals featured for this award have not only shown excellent work performance and an extensive academic history but have also brought innovative solutions to public health issues around the world.
The NYC Daily Post interviewed 40 under 40 award winners to learn about their career journeys leading up to their nominations.
Q1. What’s a piece of advice you’ve received that has impacted your career journey?
Take a Bayesian view towards career: it doesn’t matter where you start. Course-correct in the way and let the actions guide you. Be brave.
Q2. Do you have a mentor you’d like to recognize? If so, what would you like to say to them?
Associate Prof Alex Cook from the National University of Singapore. I would like to say: Thank you for offering me the opportunity to reconnect with my passion in public health and data science. That was one of the most important career switches I have made.
Q3. What advice would you give a young professional beginning their career in your field?
Be inquisitive and follow your heart. Don’t settle. Creating a positive impact on people’s lives using data science adds weight to our own careers.
Q4. If you could do one thing, leave one mark, on your profession, what would it be?
Create a top digital health company that helps millions of people in managing their chronic conditions.
Q5. Name a challenge you’ve faced and how it turned out.
The challenge: start a company while being a foreign graduate student in the US with very few professional connections. My co-founder and I toiled through by maximizing every opportunity we encountered. This included making connections proactively through professors, events, friends, and classmates. Magic happens when you commit – we were helped by so many and we are running at 10X the speed as many other companies.
Q6. What is your ultimate career goal as you see it today?
Creating digital health companies that help millions of people in managing their chronic conditions.
Q7. What alternate role(s) would you be interested in pursuing?
A scholar in healthcare AI. I actually obtained 2 amazing Ph.D. offers in this field, but I chose to work on my start-up instead!
Q8. What core values are important to succeeding in your professional field?
Integrity and passion for greater social good.
Q9. Ten years ago, I thought I would be…
Q10. Ten years from now, I want to be …
a great founder with several companies created.
Q11. Would you want to acknowledge any family/friends/partners (beyond mentors)? If so, who?
Amber Nigam, my cofounder of basys.ai.
Q12. Please indicate your hometown, place of study, degree field(s), and an interesting fact about yourself.
My hometown is Nanjing, China. I studied at the National University of Singapore (BS in Statistics) and Harvard University (SM in Health Data Science). Interesting fact: I’m also an award-winning author of poetry and children’s short story.
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