Sy Gitin, 2020.5, Applied Math-Biology

Applied Math-Biology




Medical / Personal Leave


Public Health

Reduced Course Load


Work-Study / On-Campus Employment



Why You Chose APMA:
  • I originally came into Brown thinking that I wanted to concentrate in biology. In the spring of my first year, I took multivariable calculus, which I thought would be the last math class I ever took. Instead, the class reminded me how much I loved math, and how much I had missed it. The next fall, I took two more math classes, and really enjoyed both. I had a few older friends in band who were concentrating in APMA-Bio, and after talking to them about it and looking over the requirements, I decided that it seemed like the perfect combination to me. I initially thought that I wanted to do something with genomics or bioinformatics, but after taking Development of Vaccines, started to think more about public health. The fall of my junior year, a Brown professor from the School of Public Health published a study on trans people. The author hadn’t actually talked to any trans people while creating the study, collecting and analyzing data, and drawing conclusions. As a result, she misunderstood basic pieces of trans culture and history, perpetrated multiple harmful myths about trans people, and directly harmed my community. I had always felt a tension between my passion for STEM and my passion for trans advocacy, and felt that at some point I would have to choose one or the other. After reading this study however, I realized that doing public health research on the trans community, and doing it well, was a really great way to combine my passions. The following spring while on medical leave, I took an introduction to public health class at the local community college and loved it. I briefly considered switching my concentration to public health, but after reading through the requirements and seeing that the Brown concentration has much less of a focus on math than I wanted, I decided to stick with APMA-Bio and take public health classes for my biology requirements.
  • Principles of Immunology (BIOL 0530)
  • Equilibrium, Rate, Structure (CHEM 0330)
  • Organic Chemistry (CHEM 0350)
  • Intermediate Calculus (MATH 0180)
  • Statistical Inference I (APMA 1655)
  • Linear Algebra (MATH 0520)
  • Applied Ordinary Differential Equations (APMA 0350)
  • Development of Vaccines to Infectious Diseases (BIOL 1600)
  • Introduction to Scientific Computing/Problem Solving (CSCI 0040)
  • Applied Partial Differential Equations I (APMA 0360)
  • Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Disease (BIOL 0380)
  • Inference in Genomics and Molecular Biology (APMA 1080)
  • Biostatistics and Data Analysis (PHP 1510)
  • American Sign Language I-V (SIGN 0100-0500)
  • Adolescence in Social Context (EDUC 1270)
  • Indigenous Politics in Hawai’i (POLS 1820I)



Field(s) of interest:
  • Public Health: I love math and biology but I was frustrated by the lack of social justice principles and praxis in the field. Public health is much more motivated by these principles, so it’s a really excellent combination of my interests in biology, math, and social justice/advocacy work
  • Epidemiology and Biostatistics: Epidemiology and biostatistics are the most math-focused disciplines in public health. Most of the tools I am using in my research come from these fields. When I graduate from Brown I am planning to pursue an advanced degree in epidemiology and/or biostatistics
  • Trans Healthcare: As a chronically ill trans person, I have interacted with the healthcare system quite a lot. The vast majority of the time, my trans identity is either ignored, or negatively affects the quality of care I receive. Therefore, one of the things I’m most interested in researching in public health is the health of the trans community and how it can be improved. My senior thesis research is specifically looking at eating disorders in the trans community because trans people are disproportionately affected by eating disorders but are not represented in treatment research
Involvement at Brown:
  • Hillel, Zeta Delta Xi, Brown Band, Rhode Island Chapter of Never Again Action (immigration justice group)
Other personal topics willing to discuss:
  • LGBTQ in STEM and/or at Brown
  • Non-binary trans in STEM and/or at Brown
  • Chronically ill/Disabled
  • SEAS accommodations, reduced course load, incompletes, medical leave



Internships, Research, and other professional experience:
  • On Campus: I worked at Safewalk for my first two years at Brown and now work as the Reform Holy Day Intern at Hillel
  • Summer 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019: I worked as a camp counselor at a summer camp for trans and gender-expansive kids
  • Summer 2019-Present: I’m doing research with Professor Rafferty at the medical school on eating disorders in the trans community, which will become my senior thesis. I’m doing statistical and epidemiological work with patient data and also analyzing online forums
Other Professional topics willing to discuss:
  • Finding research opportunities at Brown; figuring out academic accommodations and how to advocate for yourself to make sure you get them, and how to talk about those accommodations with potential research advisors; conducting research on a marginalized community (that you are or aren't a part of)