In honor of National Women in Science Day, which took place on February 12th, we’d like to highlight the work of one of HITLAB’s female scientists, Sara Chokshi.

Sara is the Director of the HITLAB Research Practice. She is a health services delivery researcher and digital health strategist with expertise in health informatics, user-centered design and implementation science. Sara is a frequent presenter, instructor and writer in the digital health space, with first author publications in top-tier public health and digital healthcare journals. She is committed to improving the experience of patients and clinicians through the creation, evaluation and implementation of novel, evidence-based digital health solutions.

Last week, we had the opportunity to sit down with Sara and ask her a few questions about herself and her role in world of public health. Here is what she had to say:

Tell us a bit about when your interest in science began?

I studied sociology in college and after graduating, I was trying to figure out how to best utilize this foundation to start a career. I always had an interest in health and illness from a sociological standpoint so when I graduated I enrolled in a master’s program at the University of South Florida’s School of Public Health that focused on applied social and behavioral science. The program spoke to my intellectual interests as well as my desire to work in a real-world setting.

After I finished my Masters, I worked as an adjunct sociology professor at the University of Tampa for a couple of years and then moved to NYC to complete my doctoral work at Columbia as well as more teaching- this time at Fordham University.

I knew this was the area I wanted to focus on after being introduced to and learning from Robert Merton, Father of the “Focus Group” while studying at USF. I realized how much I loved finding different perspectives in people’s actions and experiences. 

How long have you been doing research for?

I began my career in digital health research around 2016. I was doing a lot of work related to person centered healthcare and increasingly got involved in projects incorporating patient/caregiver feedback into technology design. Given that I have a background in qualitative research methods- this seemed like a good way to utilize and apply my expertise in a way that would make a difference in the patient experience.

Do you like what you do?

I love it!! Can’t imagine doing anything else!

If you could impart one piece of advice for someone wishing to pursue a career in science or research, particularly females, what would it be?

Work! You will learn more working and dipping yourself into the world than you will in any kind of classroom setting. Whether it is working in a hospital cafeteria, a doctor’s office, doing paperwork in a lab, whatever the setting may be, you’ll learn from that. And utilize your time working to create connections and ask questions in real world settings.

Tell us one fun fact about yourself?

Growing up, I always wanted to be a ballet dancer! I danced competitively when I was younger and still do for fun.

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