Dual Mathematics and Computer Science Major to Pursue Career in Public Policy

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LINCOLN UNIVERSITY, Pa. – While many graduating computer science and mathematics majors plan to pursue careers in the tech industry, graduating senior Aliyah Mcilwain is taking a different route.

“I want to use my STEM background to influence and change public policy,” said Mcilwain, a Detroit, Michigan native who is set to graduate May 6.

During her time at Lincoln, Mcilwain, a 2018 recipient of the Lincoln University Dean’s Award, worked as a math tutor at Lincoln’s Mathematics Learning Center and as a research assistant where she researched neurons as well as developed an algorithm to generate tree enumerations.

“The faculty and staff members in my departments were very supportive of my endeavors,” said Mcilwain.

Confident in her work, Mcilwain presented her research on neurons at the Emerging Researchers National Conference in Washington, D.C, in March 2017. The following month she presented her findings on tree enumerations at Lincoln’s Research Symposium in Wright Hall.

Her academic excellence in mathematics and research earned her a Leah A. Stanford Prize in Mathematics, a Denis and Maria Scholarship in Mathematical Sciences, and The Lincoln University: John B. Spottswood Award among others.

While her aptitude for science and mathematics is evident with her success in research, Mcilwain’s true passion is public policy.  Although, honored to be accepted into several doctorate programs in informatics, data science, and statistics from renowned universities such as the University of Michigan, and New York University, Mcilwain has decided to pursue a Ph.D. in political science at Michigan State University where she worked as a research assistant last summer.

“My research interests are at the intersection of public policy and data science; combining the rigorous quantitative training I’ve received at Lincoln with the theoretical underpinnings of education policy”, said Mcilwain “I want to use public-facing data science research to effect real change in education policy.”

Mcilwain believes her best chances of effecting change in educational policy will come from working with legislators.

“Working at a think tank or in a legislative office will give me the opportunity to put my research to work,” said Mcilwain.

“As her advisor, I am particularly proud of her accomplishments,” said Claude M. Tameze, associate professor and chair of the Department of Mathematical Sciences “she has always demonstrated a positive attitude and the utmost commitment to academic excellence.”

Article and Photo by Devin Bonner, Office of Communications and Public Relations