At USC, Darryl Nousome, PhD, studied how genetic and environmental factors affect our eyes. Now, he’s putting his doctorate in epidemiology to use, studying how genetic mutations affect cancer risk.


Why did you choose your degree program?

I have always been interested in biology, statistics and public health — and epidemiology has been the best way for me to accomplish all that I love about research. As an epidemiologist, I love that I am able to analyze data and also interpret it, which leads to policy or other changes in the future.


What has been your biggest accomplishment at USC?

I have been lucky to be involved in so many important studies, examining not only ophthalmology but also the risk of cancer, and it is difficult to pick just one accomplishment. Perhaps the biggest was when I got to travel around the world in collaboration with so many international researchers and present that research.


What’s an important lesson you learned?

During a PhD program you get to learn so many things, including how to read, think and write critically and how to work alone and with many other people.


What’s one of your favorite memories from the time spent in your program?

I don’t think I will ever forget studying and preparing for our 15-hour, three-day screening exam. Our cohort spent countless hours studying epidemiology theory and finding shortcuts for programming our statistics software.


What will you miss most and why?

I will miss working late at night at the Soto building, knowing that other students are there, and going on late-night dinner runs.


What are you doing after you graduate?

I will be continuing my work as a bioinformatician, where I will have the opportunity to study the role of genetic mutations using next-generation sequencing in cancer risk.


What do you look forward to in your career path?

I am so excited to see how the field of bioinformatics will change, since the technology is advancing so quickly. I can’t wait to see how bioinformatics will influence population studies and public health.


What advice do you give to future grads?

Learn as much as you can while you are a student, but don’t forget your reason for starting a graduate program in the first place. People are always along the way to help you out, but you have to be your own biggest supporter.