UCL Population Health Sciences


Alumni Spotlight: Yebeen Ysabelle Boo, BSc Population Health (Data Science)

27 February 2023

We speak to Yebeen Ysabelle Boo, BSc Population Health Alumna, to find out what she has been up to since graduating and how the programme helped her get there.


What is your fondest memory of your time at UCL?
The first thing that comes to my mind is how I got to try so many different activities I never thought of doing before I came to UCL. I was part of the UCL rowing team, and I got to row and cox for several regattas and head races. I tried surfing in the Canary Islands when I attended a trip organised by the UCL surfing club. I climbed the cliffs of the Isle of Portland in the UK with help from advanced climbers from the UCL Climbing and Mountaineering Club. I made great friends, and we often went to Mully's (UCL bar) on Saturdays for Karaoke or enjoyed Sports nights on Wednesdays. I got to attend various seminars and was able to share my ideas and be part of the discussion. Now I think about it, I felt confident to try these different activities for the first time, because of the amazing people who cheered me on and welcomed me to be part of their groups from day one. Many of the friends I met during my UCL years are my best friends, and we now share anecdotes together, reminiscing our fondest memories of our time at UCL.

The best thing about UCL was that I was not treated as just an undergraduate student in an institution, but much more. I was a rower, I was a faculty representative, and I was a supporter of different UCL initiatives. I was able to voice my concerns to my faculty staff if I thought something could be improved, and everyone listened and respected my ideas.

Please tell us a bit about the work you are doing now.
I am currently studying as a Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) in Population Health student at the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford. My DPhil project aims to develop an evidence-based comprehensive facility-based stillbirth review process in six states in India by conducting mixed methods research. This project is important to me because I believe in promoting robust health systems and affordable, high-quality care to produce better health outcomes for all. With support from my supervisors, I built my research project to focus on global maternal and child health, and social determinants of health.

I have also been working on various UK and international projects including Children and Young People’s Services, Public Health Commissioning Strategies, and various Health Needs Assessments. Through these projects, I gained practical experience including qualitative interviews, systems, workforce, and patient-level services in hospital trusts and data processing, data evaluation and options appraisals for numerous interventions.

How did your UCL degree help you get to where you are now?
Through my degree (BSc in Population Health) at UCL, I learned how to use different methodologies, both quantitative and qualitative, and successfully analyse different types of data. I now utilise these skills in making informed recommendations to support decision-makers who want to tackle environmental or societal issues related to population health. 

I also learned different quantitative research methods using R statistical software (descriptive statistics, data visualisation, sampling, linear and logistic regression, differences-in-differences analysis and more) when I took several data science modules (one of the pathways you can take in BSc Population Health). The skills I acquired through the data science pathway have been incredibly useful when working with data used in health research and conducting a series of quantitative analyses.

In all honesty, I don't think I would have been able to be where I am now (studying DPhil and working in the health sector) without the skills I gained from my UCL degree. I am incredibly happy to be where I am and I feel empowered to further develop and leverage my problem-solving, project management, research, and analytical skills within the health and life sciences sector.

What have been your career highlights?
One of my career highlights has been leading and project managing several Public Health projects commissioned by local London boroughs and County Councils. With my skills in data science, I used R studio or geographic information system mapping (using ArcGIS) to visualise health data for my clients. I have also developed and delivered a COVID-19 Outbreak Prevention and Control Plan for a council, and this was a very fulfilling project as I was able to be part of the pandemic management and learn practical skills in health protection.

Recently, I was able to present my systematic review findings at the International Stillbirth Alliance conference. This was also a memorable experience for me because it was the first conference I attended, since starting my PhD, and I got to travel to Utah and meet like-minded researchers who were interested in reducing stillbirth.

What would be your advice for current students?
Don't be afraid to ask for support, especially when it comes to your health and wellbeing. UCL and your faculty have a responsibility to care for and support you adequately when you are going through something challenging. Do voice out and demand the support you deserve. I know it's scary because I was so frightened that no one would care and support me when it happened to me. But once I knew it was the right thing to do, and when I finally did, I received the right help from the faculty that ultimately allowed me to enjoy my university life again and continue my studies at the level I knew I was capable of.

If you are interested in the BSc Population Health, find out more.