Congratulations to Rachel Mester and Apeksha Singh!

Rachel Mester and Apeksha Singh
Apeksha Singh and Rachel Mester (from left to right)
June 25, 2024

The Department of Computational Medicine and especially the Biomathematics Ph.D. program wants to congratulate Rachel Mester and Apeksha Singh for finishing their Ph.D. in Biomathematics.

Rachel started the Biomathematics Ph.D. program at UCLA in September 2019 and was advised by Professor Bogdan Pasaniuc. As an undergrad, she studied applied mathematics and computer science but was unsure how to choose a career that would allow her to follow her passions for mathematics and for helping others.  That changed when a course in computational genetics led her to the Biomath program at UCLA.  As part of her PhD research, Rachel has investigated methods for tracking interventions for infectious disease, assessed the most useful statistics to allow the inclusion of individuals of mixed ancestry in genetics studies, and worked with a clinical team to use machine learning to reduce diagnostic delay for patients with common variable immunodeficiencies. Rachel is continuing research as a postdoc at UCLA.

Apeksha started the Biomath Ph.D. Program at UCLA in September 2020 under the supervision of Professor Alexander Hoffmann, after completing two years of medical school as a part of the UCLA-Caltech Medical Scientist Training Program.  Before starting at UCLA, Apeksha completed her Bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics and Molecular and Cell Biology at UC Berkeley.  During her undergraduate career, she was fortunate to be exposed to research in Computational Biology, which motivated her interest to pursue a PhD.

She joined Dr. Hoffmann’s lab because she was interested in working more closely with experimental data and applying mathematical models to better understand biological mechanisms. Apeksha studied how inflammation and aging alter the differentiation and proliferation of cells in early hematopoiesis, promoting myeloid bias. She used different population dynamics models to interpret changes in cell abundance captured by flow cytometry and single-cell RNA sequencing experiments in both mouse models and human patients. Having completed her graduate studies, Apeksha is currently returning to medical school to complete her MD. She plans to pursue both clinical and research work in her future career.

The Biomathematics PhD is the flagship doctoral program of the Department of Computational Medicine at UCLA. This program has continuously awarded Biomath PhDs since our first doctoral graduate in 1979. The program is designed for students who want a broad education in developing, testing, and implementing cutting-edge mathematical models, computational algorithms, and statistical methods at the interface of the mathematical and biomedical sciences. 

Rachel's and Apeksha's journey through this doctoral program marks the beginning of promising careers. The program's goal to foster creativity and independence in mathematical, theoretical, and computational biology will undoubtedly equip them with the skills to spearhead innovative research at the intersection of applied mathematics, statistics, computer science, and biomedical sciences. We wish them every success in making significant contributions to advancing scientific knowledge and addressing complex biomedical challenges. Their future in research is bright, and we look forward to witnessing their achievements in the years to come.

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