From Gridiron to Subway: Putting Research Skills to Work

Hutchins Scholar Dhruv Khurjekar ’22 put new analytics skills to work this summer on two quite disparate subjects: sports and microbiology. He’s published his work in Medium, “Why Don’t NFL Teams Pass More Often” and “Microbial Surveillance: The Future of Public Health.”
Khurjekar and fellow students attending the Moneyball Academy took a deep dive into NFL analytics to determine which is more successful: passing or running the ball? Listen up pro coaches: Your quarterback should be throwing a lot more often.
 “Even as you go deeper into the game, the value of passing doesn't decrease,” said Khurjekar. “There were all these myths about how teams need to establish the run for passing to be more valuable – and we debunked those myths.”
His second project looked at something much smaller in size, but enormous in significance: microorganisms found in shared public spaces.
“The PathoMap, a 2013 project led by Cornell Professor Christopher Mason, was the first of an annual series of DNA collection projects in NYC. A sampling from subways found that only half of the DNA matched known organisms,” Khurjekar wrote. “The success of the project yielded the creation of the MetaSUB international consortium, and ever since, intensive studies have been carried out with microbial samples from urban locations around the globe. In addition to being a relatively new field of work, this project has many applications, and analyses like the ones below are being used to learn crucial information about COVID-19.”
In his Medium article, Khurjekar details learning how that wealth of data can be cleaned, categorized, analyzed, and graphed, calling it the process the “painstaking yet satisfying process of biological data manipulation and visualization.”
The Fourth Former continues to use analytics in two classes – Honors Calculus-based Probability and Statistics and Microbiology – and will as well next summer in a Hutchins Scholar-sponsored internship (at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital) studying the genetics of pancreatic cancer. “I’ve always been interested in STEM, but I’ve never really dug deeper into the analytics,” he explained. “Having this foundation in coding is really helpful.”
For additional information, please contact Lisa M. Gillard Hanson, director of Public Relations, at lgillard@lawrenceville.org.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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