"Data Science skills are a worthwhile investment to your studies"

With the student experiences we want to show future students what it is like to do your study programme, and how it is like to study in Wageningen. This interview is a part of that. There are many kinds of student experiences. You can find some examples on the next page.

Can you describe briefly who you are and what you are currently doing? Could you give an example of what you are working on?

I am Martine Landman and I am 22 years old. After finishing my bachelor’s in Wageningen, I now continued with a master’s in Nutrition and Health applied to Data Science for Health and I am currently in my first year (will be a new programme: Master Data Science for Food and Health)

When did you first hear about your study programme and what did you think about it? What was the moment you knew for sure that this programme was the right education for you? Have you doubted between multiple programmes? Which ones?

In the last year of my bachelor’s in Health and Society, our study adviser emailed us to let us know they were developing this new master’s programme in data science applied to health and nutrition. Before, I had been thinking about studying epidemiology, since I had liked the courses on statistics and data analysis the best so far. However, when I heard about the data science programme, I immediately knew I preferred this programme. I thought its applications would be broader than with epidemiology and since this field is relatively new, there are still a lot of opportunities for the future.

Could you tell us something about your study programme? How have you arranged it to fit your interests (e.g. theses, internships, major, minor)?

I am not that far in my programme yet, so I have not done a thesis or internship yet. However, at the end of March I will leave to Potsdam in Germany to do an extra minor in Digital Health. The courses I plan on taking fit in really well with what I am studying at WUR.

Which part of your study did you find the most interesting? Which courses did you like best?

What I like the most is that I am learning quite solid skills in this programme (e.g. machine learning, programming, statistics). My bachelor’s was in a social science field and I learnt mostly soft skills like writing and critical thinking. I like that I will hopefully be able to combine these two types of skillsets.

What do you do besides studying? Do you have a special interest or talent? (think about part time jobs, sports, hobbies, boards ect.)

In my spare time I like to run, walk and cycle in the surroundings of Wageningen, do yoga or read a good book. I like to do things where I can wind down and not look at a screen.

What do you think about the student life in Wageningen?

I really like it here and I prefer it over bigger cities. I like that most people are very down-to-earth and you always walk into people you know. I also enjoy the beautiful nature around Wageningen.

Specific questions about studying Data Science

Could you describe why you have chosen to study data science in combination with one of the WUR domains?

I have always wanted to do something with health and that is why I started my bachelor’s in Health and Society in Wageningen. I noticed that I liked the more ‘quantitative’ courses (statistics, data analysis, epidemiology) much more than the social science courses (communication, sociology, policy). However, I still wanted to do something with public health and preferably continue studying at WUR. Then I heard about the data science programme and decided to do this.

Could you describe how studying data science in combination with one of the WUR domains might be beneficial to other WUR students?

Data are everywhere and can be used in almost any field of study. I also think data science will become a more important part of research in the future, as the world gets more complex and more and more data are collected. Therefore, I think adding data science skills, either a course or an entire programme, to your studies is a worthwhile investment. This will at some point probably become an important part of many research related jobs.

Do you need any background knowledge and skills (e.g. programming languages, statistics, etc) to start studying data science as a WUR student? Or is interest and passion in data science topic enough?

I did not have much background knowledge before starting this programme. I only took advanced statistics, but in my programme you can even still follow it in the first period. In retrospect I might have done a minor in data science, but at WUR you can tailor your programme so much to your own wishes, that you can integrate courses that you still want to take at almost any point in your studies.

Could you give an example of the application of data science/artificial intelligence methods and techniques in your study domain?

Data science can for example be very well combined with epidemiology. Other examples are precision medicine, new insights in nutrition or making healthcare more efficient.

Could you say something about the career opportunities of someone combining data science with one of the WUR study domains?

I keep hearing ‘data are the future’ and I think there are a lot of opportunities ahead if you have data science skills. The interdisciplinarity in Wageningen is quite new and unique, so I think employers will be interested in graduates who are both knowledgeable about data science, but also a certain domain.