PODS Spotlight: Béatrice Libchaber
Hello everyone, my name is Béatrice, though most people know me as Béa! I have recently graduated with a joint honours degree in Geography and International Development. For most of my life, I have been interested in understanding how the world works, resulting in my deep interest for geography and my love for maps. With that in mind, I have focused on different disciplines, and have explored the spatial patterns within them. In this way, I have gotten to work on, and research, important topics such as international human rights, environmental change and public health. I have always felt limited in these fields, for only knowing and resorting to using qualitative methods and frameworks. Finding out about PODS opened my eyes to a world of opportunities, and to the chance to delve even further into matters I feel passionate about.
I have highly appreciated my time as a student at McGill, and it has led me to set professional goals of working in a setting other than academia. I want to play my part in policy making in matters pertaining to the environmental causes and impacts of forced migration. After being introduced to, and subsequently researching, the concepts of environmental apartheid and racism, I realized the importance in making the connection between environment, health, displacement and forced migration. These are issues which I can only imagine will grow in the future unless adequately addressed through effective policies. Being a part of the PODS cohort has motivated me to tackle these issues, using data science as a meaningful tool to create innovative policies with lasting impacts.
While the main goal of the PODS bootcamp is to teach undergraduates the application of data science techniques, it goes far beyond that. In the five weeks of instruction, I learned how to use software, design complex statistical processes and interpret quantitative results as they pertain to important policy matters. Above all, the PODS boot-camp and its emphasis on ethics taught me a new way to learn, and gave me a new outlook on professional and academic life. In the course of these five weeks, discussions and debates were fostered within the PODS cohort, as each of us learned to conceptualize and reflect upon the ethics of our own field. Overtime, I realized that I wasn’t only learning from the instructors, but I was also learning from the rest of the cohort, all amazingly skilled individuals from many different fascinating backgrounds.
My internship placement is with the McGill Observatory on Health and Social Services Reform where I work and research under the supervision of Dr. Amelie Quesnel-Vallée and Dr. Rachel McKay. My project focuses on using public provincial data to analyze the relationships between specific policies and doctor involvement with the Quebec government health insurance board. In this position, I have been able to put my newfound knowledge into practice. This first experience delving into quantitative research has shown me the power of data science and its crucial role, to translate academic endeavours into projects with real-world policy importance and implications.
Being a part of such a rewarding program has been an unforgettable experience. PODS is a program based on inclusivity, concerned with accessibility and dedicated to preserving student’s wellbeing. It has motivated me to work hard and better myself, helped me to gain confidence in myself and encouraged me to succeed and mature in ways I didn’t believe to be capable. I am endlessly grateful for this opportunity, and for all that it has brought me, whether that be extensive knowledge, exceptional friends, or inspiring mentors.