Get to know our new doctoral students! | Department of Biostatistics

Over the next few weeks, we will introduce you to our first year doctoral students.

Hi! My name is Knight Parker, and I grew up in Ocala, Florida, about two hours north of Orlando. I graduated in December 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Florida.
I first became interested in biostatistics in my first year of college, when I was working in a behavioral neuroscience lab at the McKnight Brain Institute at UF. There, I analyzed functional connectivity networks constructed from fMRI data to understand the cognitive effects of various drug treatments in mice. I found that I liked the interdisciplinary element of the job the most, in which I could combine my interests in biology, mathematics and computer science.
In the summer of 2019, I interned at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, where I was a member of Dr. Tim Randolph’s group. My work has focused on high dimensional statistical inference methods for data with a complex correlation structure, in particular microbiome data.
Thanks to this experience, I developed a great interest in genomic applications, and on my return to UF, I joined Dr Rhonda Bacher’s group in the biostatistics department. Here, I worked on computational methods for the analysis of unicellular genomic data, with particular emphasis on pseudo-time estimation tools for unicellular RNA-seq data. I also led the development of “methylscaper”, an R / Shiny application allowing to visualize and manipulate DNA methylation data.
During this time, I completed an honors thesis under the supervision of Dr Sara Pollock, in which I studied adaptive smoothing penalties for large-dimensional regression problems.
With the support of the Genomics Training Grant, I look forward to learning more about the breadth of statistical genetics and genomics research opportunities at Harvard. I’m also looking forward to learning more about areas of biostatistics that I haven’t spent too much time on, especially causal inference and Bayesian methods.
In my spare time I like to read, run and break my Emacs configuration.


Philippe NicolHi! My name is Philippe Nicol, and I am originally from Columbus, Ohio. I recently graduated in Mathematics and Computer Science from Harvard University. I became interested in biostatistics and bioinformatics after spending a summer researching with Professor Kevin Coombes at Ohio State University. At OSU, I developed probabilistic graphical models to deduce the temporal order of mutations in cancer. I have also developed mathematical models and simulations to make predictions on intratumoral heterogeneity. More recently, I developed statistical methods to analyze single-celled RNA-seq data in the lab of Professor Shirley Liu (at DFCI).
I am very happy to join the Department of Biostatistics, where I will be funded by the Cancer Training Grant. I intend to continue my research on the evolution of cancer, but I hope to be exposed to other areas of biostatistics as well. I can’t wait to meet everyone!
Outside of work, I love running and swimming. I also like to play the piano and board games whenever I have the time.

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