Margaux Morrison Crabtree ’06

DEGREE: B.S. in physics; M.P.H. in biostatistics, Boston University School of Public Health

JOB TITLE: Applied biostatistician, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Utah School of Medicine

REPORTER: What do you do as an applied biostatistician?CRABTREE: As a biostatistician, I have a few roles. First, I analyze data, including genomic, epidemiological, and epigenetic information in relation to specific disease outcomes. For any disease associations found, I help interpret the biological meaning of these associations. Additionally, I prepare manuscripts explaining these data for publication in the scientific community in peer-reviewed journals. I also present these findings at national and international meetings. Another role is in the preparation of grant proposals in order to obtain funding for our research.

REPORTER: What are the key areas of research at the University of Utah’s Moran Eye Center?
CRABTREE: In our laboratory at the Moran Eye Center, we are focused on finding the genetic and environmental factors that lead to major blinding diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinopathy of prematurity, and glaucoma. By uncovering the causes of these diseases, we will be able to create prognostic, diagnostic, and therapeutic tools.

REPORTER: Of what professional accomplishment are you most proud?
CRABTREE: I would have to say I am most proud of my publication record and my degree in biostatistics. Currently, there is a shortage of trained biostatisticians and, moreover, a shortage of women in biostatistics.

REPORTER: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
CRABTREE: The most rewarding part of my job is getting to meet the people affected by the diseases we are researching. Hearing firsthand how these diseases affect their lives really gives us motivation to continue our work. It is very fulfilling to hear their gratitude for the progress we are making.

REPORTER: How did you decide you wanted to pursue this career?
CRABTREE: While I was still at Trinity, I started working in the lab of a family friend as a summer job. While I wasn’t so great at bench science, I realized that my aptitude was statistics given my physics and mathematics background. My mentor/boss recognized this talent and encouraged me and supported my graduate school education toward statistics. This solidified my career.

REPORTER: What experience(s) of yours at Trinity do you draw on most frequently for your work?
CRABTREE: A lot of my engineering classes at Trinity relied on working as a group, which is very similar to the way we work in the laboratory–everyone brings something different to the table, but we have to come together to bring a project to completion.

REPORTER: Was there a Trinity professor who had a particularly strong impact on you? If so, who and why?
CRABTREE: I really enjoyed and appreciated the conversations I had with my academic adviser, Dr. Mark Silverman. He had a true enthusiasm for science that was extremely admirable. I was continually impressed at how he was able to relate scientific problems to real life so that we, as students, could easily see how relevant the skills and knowledge were.