Researcher at 15 - Published at 19!
Find out how one of our Zipperman Scholars, Sohum Jayesh Shah, contributed back to his community at a young age.
What sparked your interest in research at such a young age?
"I took AP Human Geography my sophomore year in high school, which initially sparked my interest in correlating descriptive demographic statistics [from the 2000 Census] with observed data. This was when I was starting to think about colleges, career options, etc."
How did you find out about this particular opportunity?
"I asked my family and friends if they could help me find some type of experience that would enhance my resume more than a typical high school summer job. I reached out to several people in the academia and heard of an opportunity at the Children's Hospital. Dr. Eric Simoes, an epidemiologist at The Children's Hospital in Denver and the University of Colorado - Denver's Health Sciences Center, offered to let me work in his office for the summer.
The first thing Dr. Simoes said to me was that this was pretty much my own project. He would guide me as needed, but would not direct me. He then summarized a handful of studies he was conducting and asked which one I would be interested in. The one I selected was a study using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and elevation data to analyze the spread of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) among age groups."
How did you know what to do and how to analyze the data?
"When I first started, I would just spend a few hours experimenting and playing with the GIS software (ArcView) to learn its interface and its capabilities. Initially, I wanted to analyze the spread of RSV at a national level, but Dr. Simoes explained that my analysis needed to be compared with statistical analysis in order to be presentable. He introduced me to Liu Xia, a statistician and Graduate student, who was assisting with other projects in his office. Liu explained the parameters and controls that needed to be in place for a statistical analysis."
What did you learn from this experience?
"I learned much from this experience in terms of critical thinking and analysis. In addition to learning technical skills, I learned what it is like to be in an office environment. I was 15 years old and working in an office with MDs and PhDs and Graduate students. It taught me how to communicate with others (especially people my parents' age) in a professional manner. It taught me the value of data and the importance of gleaning information from data that is actionable. I can see how Information Systems (IS) is important to study in order to be successful in any area of business. I also learned that I had to follow through and finish projects to completion. I believe I grew from this experience personally and academically and I am truly grateful that I had this opportunity."
"Predictors of the Duration of the Respiratory Syncytial Virus Season" Zachariah, Philip MB BS; Shah, Sohum; Gao, Dexiang PhD; Simões, Eric A. F. MB BS, DCH, MD
The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal Issue: Volume 28(9), September 2009, pp 772-776
Abstract: Background: Data from national surveillance shows significant regional variation in the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) season. To enable accurate recommendations for surveillance and prophylaxis at a local level, we examined this variation in detail and determined predictors for the duration of the RSV season. [more]