What college/university are you attending?

Stanford University School of Medicine

Photo Credit: Stanford Medical School

Which program are you pursuing and what about the subject intrigues you most?

I’m pursuing an MD/PhD that combines medical training with research training in cancer biology and biomedical informatics. The thing that excites me most about my program is how it combines a bunch of different things that I’m passionate about – math, computer science, biology, and the “human element” of medicine that’s all about promoting people’s health and making their lives better.

What are your career aspirations?

Someday, I want to become a clinical informatician, which is a kind of doctor who spends some of their time seeing patients and some of their time analyzing medical data to make care recommendations to hospitals and health care systems. It’s a cool path for statistics and data nerds like me because it lets you think really “big picture” about how we care for patients (and what evidence we have that our treatment decisions are the best they can be).

What is a fun fact about you that few people know?

A lot of people know that I’m into tech in general, but not many people know that I’m actually a huge video game nerd. It’s kind of embarrassing to admit, but you probably couldn’t name a Final Fantasy game that’s come out in the past 10 years that I haven’t beaten at least twice (lol).

What is your favorite book/movie/song and why?

My favorite book is probably a two-way tie between Ben Barres’ “Life of a Transgender Scientist” and Cal Newport’s “Deep Work” – the former because I knew Ben before he passed (and he was an absolutely incredible person with much wisdom to share) and the latter because I love thinking about how I can be more productive and really optimize my focus and creativity.

What is your current favorite streaming binge?

I’m not sure if this counts as “streaming,” but I recently listened to a ton of episodes of the NYT podcast “Still Processing” with Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham. They’re incredible.

In your spare time, what do you enjoy doing?

I’m a bit of a workaholic so I don’t take a lot of spare time for myself! But some of my cooler hobbies are kickboxing, snowmobiling, and picking up new programming languages (right now, I’m learning a language called Julia). But I also like really dorky things like video games and watching video essays on YouTube.

How are you practicing self-care during this difficult time?

I’ve really taken to distance running during California’s extended shelter-in-place order. It’s a great stress reliever and, now that it’s been a few months, I can comfortably run between 7-10 miles each morning before starting my day. The “runner’s high” is, like, totally a thing.

How are you adjusting to remote life and what are your tips to stay motivated?

Remote life has been a big adjustment. I miss working with my lab-mates and feeling that sense of camaraderie in the lab. In order to stay motivated, I’ve found it really helpful to try structuring my time as much as possible even though I’m stuck at home all day. For example, recently I decided to take an extra course or two (which isn’t that common during the middle of your PhD) in statistics to try to keep myself on-track with at least one or two concrete tasks to do everyday. That, and having virtual happy hours with the other members of my program once a week 🙂

As a Point Scholar, what is your message to other LGBTQ+ students?

I think queer and trans people are subject to a lot of messaging that makes us feel alone when we’re growing up (i.e. being the “only one” in various contexts). As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that that’s just not the case – there’s a really strong community of other LGBTQ+ people in the world who are always eager to connect with and support one another. There’s a huge network to tap into even for young queer and trans people who might not realize it yet. My advice would be to tap into that network. Once you do, it’s incredible.

This post’s responses were submitted by Point Scholar Timothy Keyes.

Keyes is currently pursuing a MD/PhD at Stanford Medical School. Read more about Timothy here.

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