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A Path from Informatics to Neuroscience

A biomedical informatics student looks ahead to what her degree will offer her.

Written by Philip Baker
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With her eyes on a career conducting cognitive neuroscience research, Gulzar Daya sees getting her Biomedical Informatics degree from the University of Chicago as the best way to open up key doors for her future.

Gulzar Daya, a first-year student in the Master of Science in Biomedical Informatics (MScBMI) program, first got an inkling of her career path while still in high school. The realization took place while visiting a hospital with a friend whose father had recently suffered a stroke. She was surprised to discover that while this man, whom she knew as both successful and particularly brilliant, could discuss an array of complex topics, much that was rudimentary now proved inaccessible to him.

“What really fascinated me was when I asked the neurologist why he lacked access to those parts of his memory,” Daya says. “She said there was no good answer. That’s what sent me down the path I’m still on today. I wanted to learn why we didn’t know that, and also I wanted to learn everything I could about what we do know. Even then, I knew I wanted to try to find the answer myself.”

About Gulzar Daya

Hometown
Chicago, IL
Program
Master of Science in Biomedical Informatics

Class of 2022

Hobbies
Running

Preparing for a PhD

Daya majored in biology and psychology as an undergraduate at Loyola University Chicago. While there, she worked as a research assistant in a variety of laboratories as a way to familiarize herself with different research settings and approaches. Equally focused on having a positive impact on her community, she tutored middle- and high-school girls in STEM subjects across Chicago.

However, when it came time to take the next step after graduation, she hesitated, even if she knew she wanted to pursue a career in neuroscience and get her PhD.

“I am the first woman in my family to graduate from college, so going on to get another degree is a big deal,” she says. “My neuroscience professor gave me the encouragement I needed. He recommended getting my MS as a first step. He pointed out that studying biomedical informatics would be a great way to gain some essential skills while also cementing my commitment to the path I was on.”

“I am really excited about the capstone project in particular. I am hoping to continue the research I have already begun in the field of cognitive neuroscience. Between that and the knowledge I’ll gain through coursework, not to mention the connections I’ll make with instructors and classmates, I’ll graduate with a solid foundation for the future I want.” 

Gulzar Daya, MScBMI '22

Creating Impact Beyond the Classroom

Daya immediately set her eyes on the University of Chicago’s Masters of Science in Biomedical Informatics program. Calling herself a natural introvert, Daya wanted an environment that would challenge her and give her incentives to grow and contribute.

“I knew that the University of Chicago invests in its students and encourages them to engage with their professors and ask questions that will have an impact beyond just the classroom,” she says. “That’s why I applied. But I was still very nervous about getting in, so it was a thrill to learn I was accepted.”

With a PhD and a career in neuroscience research still her goal, Daya knows that few places provide the environment and resources that will allow her to delve into the areas she is most passionate about. Even before starting classes, she surveyed the variety of research being conducted across laboratories at the University in anticipation of reaching out to those doing work relevant to her area of focus.

“I am really excited about the capstone project in particular,” she says. “I am hoping to continue the research I have already begun in the field of cognitive neuroscience. Between that and the knowledge I’ll gain through coursework, not to mention the connections I’ll make with instructors and classmates, I’ll graduate with a solid foundation for the future I want.”

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