Research: Applications of modeling and simulation methodologies to health care problems
Undergraduate: Georgia Institute of Technology
Hometown: Flossmoor, IL
| Why did you choose to come to AMSC?
I really liked the program. The thought of having a lot of control over the direction of my study was very
appealing to me. There are 5 core courses that all seemed interesting to me, and the rest of the program
was essentially up to me to construct based on my research interests. I didn't know what they were at the
time, but the flexibility to construct a program around those interests was a big driver in my decision to
come to the AMSC program.
The second major factor was the campus visit. I highly encourage everyone to visit any school that they
are considering attending for graduate or even undergraduate school. There just isn't any better
comparison than a first person perspective. I met quite a few people from the department, including
students, administrators, and the program chair, as well as my current academic advisor, which also helped
because I got an idea of how it would be to be around these people for the next 4-6 years.
What are your research interests and why?
My primary research interest is applying modeling and simulation methodologies to problems in health care.
Most of my research thus far has been focused on preventing the spread of infectious diseases in hospitals
and long-term care facilities. My advisors and I have an ongoing collaboration with two epidemiologists
from the University of Maryland Medical Center, and we have also recently begun a new project with the
radiology department to help improve the utilization of their scanners. Agent-based modeling has been my
main approach to many of the problems we have investigated, but I have used more traditional techniques as
well. I also have interests in genetic algorithms and social network analysis because I think they are
interesting, fun to work with, and can produce results that may not come from other methods.
I chose this area for my research because I enjoy designing and implementing simulations, and I wanted to
apply those skills to a problem that could have a direct impact on society. Health care is one of the
largest industries in the world, and there are a lot of challenges associated with the delivery of care to
the people that need it. As a result, there are a lot of opportunities to help improve the health care
system, especially when you can bring expertise to a particular area that is not readily available.
Medical and health care professionals are not often trained in computational fields so that is a role that
we can fill as mathematicians, engineers, and computer scientists. Communication can be a challenge, but
that is something we have to overcome if we want to make the health care system better.
What do you like to do in your free time?
When I do have free time, I spend a lot of time with my fiance Nadya and my dog Wrigley doing various
things around the city. I think finding an appropriate work-life balance is very important. With whatever
time I have remaining, most of what I do involves sports, entertainment, and technology. I am originally
from Chicago, so I am a HUGE Cubs and Bulls fan. I catch whatever games I can in the DC area and keep up
with both teams pretty regularly on TV and the internet. I also enjoy playing softball, basketball, and
tennis. I am also a movie buff; although with the price of admission, I don't always catch the newest
films in the theater. I still get my fix of action, adventure, and comedy movies on DVD or "On Demand". I
have recently become a bit of a technology fiend, which has been mostly due to my iPad purchase a couple of
months ago. I enjoy reading lots of RSS feeds, playing games, and doing a little bit of blogging and photo
Sean with dog Wrigley
What are your favorite parts of the greater Washington DC area?
There is so much to do! And what's better is that a lot of it is FREE, which is critical for the
financially challenged life of a graduate student. And for those of you who aren't overly interested in
going to a museum everyday, there are tons of restaurants, concerts, sporting events, parks, and festivals
to attend throughout the year to keep you busy. Plus, there are a lot of special events that we have
access to just for being in the nation's capital. About.com is a great reference for the events going on
in the city and surrounding areas. I probably don't get into the city as much as I should, but I
particularly enjoy Gallery Place, the National Mall, National Harbor, U Street, and Adams Morgan. I also
like the Clarendon area in Arlington, Tyson's Corner in Virginia, and Bethesda in Maryland. Yes, there is
bad traffic, and the cost of living is high, but if you can get past those two issues, this is a great
Sean at Nationals baseball game
What advice would you give to incoming students?
I would advise incoming students to relax and just get adjusted to the life of a graduate student in
Washington, D.C. If you are pursuing a PhD, you will undoubtedly be here for a while, so there is no use
in trying to rush by taking a lot of classes each semester and jumping on a lot of projects. Just like any
other challenge, it's important to get warmed up and comfortable before diving into it with maximal effort.
There will be enough new experiences between meeting new people, taking classes, teaching, doing research,
and potentially living in a new area that you will be stressed enough as it is. Even with all of those
challenges, I think graduate school is a great place to be and presents a lot of opportunity for you to
discover new things academically and socially. Regardless of the challenges you face, this experience is
likely to be one you look back on positively.
Story posted 8/20/10
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Plan of Organization
Just For Fun
AMSC Class of 2010
Where We Are From