This is part of a series of profiles introducing alumni from Minerva’s Master in Decision Analysis (MDA). If you would like to learn more about our programs, please visit our website.
Originally from Mexico, Claudia Gonzalez Leal has completed two Master degrees concurrently—Minerva’s Master of Science in Decision Analysis and the Master of Science in Molecular Biology at the Erasmus University in the Netherlands. Pursuing two degrees at the same time gave her an opportunity to explore her passion toward biology, as well as an interest in the technical side of applied analysis.
Claudia finds the biggest value of Minerva’s Master in Decision Analysis in the diversity of topics covered in the program’s curriculum. Having read and analyzed a number of articles and papers in a variety of contexts, Claudia appreciates the effect of being constantly exposed to new ideas and novel ways of thinking in developing her creativity.
“When applying to Minerva, I was not 100% sure in which field I wanted to work in the future. Minerva gave me a chance to acquire skills that would be valuable regardless of the career path I decided to choose. I felt like I was learning concepts and then choosing in which context I wanted to apply them.”
Claudia also particularly appreciates Minerva’s diverse student body, which made learning from her classmates’ experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives even more valuable.
“All the professors and my colleagues were truly inspiring and I genuinely admire everyone involved in the program. Even though all the classes were held online, the human component of Minerva’s Master in Decision Analysis is something that I truly cherish and value.”
This diversity was present in all aspects of the program. During the last semester of the degree, Claudia was amazed by the variety of choices of the thesis topics her classmates worked on, as everyone customized their thesis depending on their professional interests, even though all students took the same classes.
“It was beyond exciting to see the diversity of applications the same tool can provide. I think Minerva is great at keeping a very broad horizon and letting you extrapolate concepts from one field to another, and that is not something that is commonly taught in the institutions I have been a part of before.”
Working under the supervision of Minerva’s Provost Vicki Chandler, Claudia’s Master’s thesis was focused on analyzing a transcriptomic dataset to understand the effects of singular and combined therapies for rheumatoid arthritis. While also being in a wet lab, she could conduct experiments to test the hypothesis driven from the dataset analysis. In this way, she was able to combine the skills learned in both Master’s programs to reveal new insights with potential therapeutic applications.
“Minerva equipped me with statistical and analytical tools that helped me to generate a hypothesis, assess its significance, and perform the necessary calculations to validate the hypothesis. Together with the knowledge I gained throughout my degree in Molecular Medicine at the Erasmus University, I was able to touch on both the scientific and technical side of the project.”
Claudia’s thesis work had a significant impact on her future career as she discovered a deep passion toward science and research and it became clear to her that she wanted to explore this field from an even more academic perspective. After graduation, Claudia decided to pursue a PhD in Molecular Biology at Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich.
Currently, Claudia’s work focuses on exploring the molecular mechanisms of cancer and researching the behavior of cells in pursuit of rebuilding themselves following DNA damage. Aside from her scientific knowledge, she utilizes a number of concepts she learned at Minerva in her everyday work, such as experimental design, hypothesis consolidation, and result analysis, especially when working with the use of microscopic techniques.
According to Claudia, analytical skills are crucial in every industry. When it comes to the scientific field, carefully analyzing the relevance of research findings is necessary to drive reliable conclusions. On the other hand, understanding the importance of insignificant results is crucial for scientists not to miss the potential to lead research toward new directions and discoveries.
“I think that having the ability to perform a statistical analysis gives you a framework on how to approach a problem and utilize logical thinking to support the decision-making process. An objective way to solve problems is crucial to be embraced not only by leaders, but people in charge of decision-making in every industry.”