Alumni Spotlight: Brian Lawson

Brian Lawson, MS

Brian Lawson earned his MS in Biostatistics in the Spring of 2016. We asked him a few questions about his experience in the program - here's what he had to say!

  • Q: Please describe your current job title/company and what your day-to-day is like.
  • A: I've worked for Kaiser Permanente's Division of Research (DOR) in Oakland since I graduated from UC Davis with an MS in Biostatistics in June 2016. My title is Data Consultant. Although the group I work for is in Oakland, I live in Pasadena and telecommute to work. I usually have 1-2 meetings per day with various members of my group (using Microsofot Teams). The rest of the time I spend analyzing, extracting, and formatting data to be analyzed. I also prepare presentations to be shown within my group and for other units in KP that rely on our research and prepare result for manuscripts for publication.

    When I first started here most of the analysis was done using SAS and within SAS using SQL to extract and format data. Over the short time that I have been at KP's DOR there has been some movement towards R, Python, and more complex modeling methods, like neural nets based on pyTorch, but those things are new here. The movement to use these new methods has been spearheaded by the group that I work for within DOR.
  • Q: What made you choose our graduate program?
  • A: UC Davis was the best program that I got into.
  • Q: What was your first job after graduating with your MS from UC Davis?
  • A: I started as a trainee at KP's Division of Research.
  • Q: Can you describe your career path from your first job after UC Davis to your current position?
  • A: The trainee program at KP was very helpful in preparing me to understand the vast amount of data available within KP and how to extract and analyze it. I have been promoted three times since I started working at KP. Basically, I worked hard for my supervisor and he rewarded me for that work.
  • Q: How did the program and experience at UC Davis prepare you for where you are today?
  • A: The program at UC Davis was a great help in preparing me to take on my current position. The courses and working for professors were really helpful.
  • Q: What were the most influential people, courses, and/or experiences for you at UC Davis? Why were they significant?
  • A: By far the most helpful person during my time at Davis was Professor Kyoungmi Kim. I was both a research assistant and TA for her. Being a research assistant was particularly helpful because it gave me hands-on experience doing the type of work (analyzing and formatting data) which I did at KP. My fellow students were also helpful, in that I learned to work with a diverse group of students, similar to the diversity at KP. Also, I learned about KP's trainee program from one of my fellow students.
  • Q: What advice do you have for students interested in a career in biostatistics?
  • A: Take advantage of all the opportunities UC Davis has to offer. Make the most of any research assistant or TA opportunity you get. Because the MS is so short (2 years or less), make sure to get experience during the summer either with a professor or a company doing biostatistics.
  • Q: Anything else you'd like to share with us?
  • A: I would be happy to provide information about the trainee program to any MS biostatistics student who is interested in working at KP's Division of Research.  Also KP is interested in hiring data scientists, so if any PhD statistics students are interested I would also be happy to provide them with information about those possibilities. My email is