Ph.D. Student Profile: Beau LeBlond

October 17, 2022

Beau Le BlondBeau LeBlond

Ph.D. in Data Science Candidate, University of Virginia
B.S. in Computational and Applied Mathematics and Statistics 2022, College of William & Mary

Charlottesville, Virginia

Q: Tell us about your path to data science.

My interest in data science started with taking a course called Programming for Data Science during undergrad because I thought that it was a nice idea to gain some computer skills. In that class, I learned about the tools of data science and how broadly they could be applied to make statements about real-world problems. Being able to root decisions in data fascinated me, and the programming was pretty fun too! 

Q: When choosing a doctoral program, why did you decide on UVA's Ph.D. in Data Science?

A huge reason why I chose the University of Virginia's Ph.D. in Data Science is because of how interdisciplinary it is. A goal of the School of Data Science is to find ways to apply knowledge from different subjects to find creative and new ways of thinking about things. Coming from a liberal arts education, I loved the emphasis on data science having no bounds on its application to other areas. 

Q: What research do you hope to pursue?

I am still dipping my toe in the research waters but I find preventative healthcare to be profoundly interesting. Finding ways to help people live better lives and prolonging the time before a need for medical intervention is a societal good. I have not chosen a dissertation topic yet, but I would love to do something to dispel the myths of food and weight loss industry.  

Q: What has been your favorite class so far and why?

So far, I have loved a class called "Probability and Stochastic Processes" taught by Professor Thomas Stewart. I have always enjoyed statistics, and Professor Stewart does an amazing job explaining concepts that can sometimes get glossed over. I feel like I am learning statistics in a new way and all the while filling in gaps of knowledge I didn't even know I had.  

Q: What would you say to someone considering a Ph.D. in Data Science?

I love the quote, "Why not me?" If you are thinking about a Ph.D. in Data science but are worried about having enough of a background in the subject, give it a shot. If you have the prerequisites and are ready to work hard, there's a chance you could be in the next cohort of data science doctoral students at UVA. 

Q: What is a fun fact about yourself?

I do a mean Daffy Duck impression.