Student Profile: Grace Guan ’20 uses statistics and machine learning to tackle problems in global health

Friday, Feb 1, 2019
by Sharon Adarlo

Grace Guan, 20, Class of 2020:


Grace Guan is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer science, while also taking classes for the Certificate Program in Statistics and Machine Learning at the Center for Statistics and Machine Learning (CSML) and the Certificate Program in Global Health and Health Policy at the Center for Health and Wellbeing. Guan is also a CSML Ambassador.



Guan is interested in how computer science and statistics and machine learning can be used to understand and solve complex problems in health care. She became interested in this area because she has numerous food allergies. While dealing with insurance and hospitals, she noticed many inefficiencies that could perhaps be eliminated with advanced computational tools.

“I think there is a big gap in healthcare that can be filled with big data and statistics,” she said. “Healthcare is something to which I can apply my strengths.”

Her two major research projects involve the insurance market and predicting the number of sick patients in a cohort of children at a pediatric group. 

In the first project, Guan uses big data analysis to determine whether any health insurance companies would leave the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace. She does this by seeing how much each company loses through the risk transfer program, a zero-sum game in which funds from companies with healthy enrollees must be used to fund companies with higher-risk patients. The risk transfer program ensures that insurance companies enroll sicker people into their plans. 

Another research project of Guan’s is using machine learning to predict the number of sick patients at a pediatric group. She is working closely with a local pediatric group to accomplish her research, which looks at the weather, holidays, and variables to make predictions. Analysis from this research can be used to adjust staffing needs and decrease wait times.

Besides her research, Guan has been an intern at Google, Two Sigma, and Intel. 


Extracurricular activities:

Guan has been a teaching assistant for two mathematics classes and serves as a tour guide for the Princeton University Art Museum. She is also a member of the museum’s Student Advisory Board. Her duties include outreach to the broader New Jersey community. In one example, the board collaborated with the non-profit group Womanspace in Trenton, which serves survivors of domestic violence and their children. Board members visited children at Womanspace and give art-centric lessons.


For fun: 

Guan likes to study distributed systems, swim, practice yoga, read books on the medical field, and visit museums.