Strategic Connections: A Powerful Collaboration

Students find ‘math is not a spectator sport’ through senior design projects with Bristol Myers Squibb.
Portrait of KamdarPremal Kamdar ’13, director, product management lead, Digital Health Team, Bristol Myers Squibb

When Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) announced it was sponsoring a senior design project aimed at measuring a patient’s “quality of life” using data from a wearable electronic device, fourth-year student Zoe Hack jumped at the challenge.

“It was a chance to take existing data and create something new that could be super helpful,” says Hack, whose senior design teammates include fellow fourth-year math majors Julieta Caroppo and Joshua Richter.

A Fitbit enthusiast since high school, Hack loves finding new ways to use wearable devices to improve health outcomes and tapping into data to solve problems. For the past two summers she has worked for a reinsurance company using data to model the impact of catastrophes like hurricanes.

Our priority is to sponsor more capstone projects, recruit top talent ... and pursue new research and other joint ventures.
Premal Kamdar ’13

The “wearables” project is an especially challenging puzzle — first finding applicable open-source data gleaned from wearable devices, and then figuring out how to link that data to “quality of life,” says the team’s faculty advisor Benjamin Leinwand, assistant professor of mathematical sciences. “I had a professor who said that math is not a spectator sport,” he says. “Data exploration is always an invaluable, and often surprising, experience.”

Hack says it’s been very rewarding working on a project with real-world potential with the Global Biometrics and Data Science (GBDS) team at BMS. The team’s Md Shamsuzzaman helped spearhead the project, and Gengyuan Liu Ph.D. ’17 has been meeting regularly with the students to offer support.

“They’ve been incredibly helpful,” Hack says.

Portrait of CaforioGiovanni Caforio, executive chairman of the board and retired CEO, Bristol Myers Squibb

The project is one of two senior design projects sponsored this year by the New Jersey-based pharmaceutical giant. It represents an invaluable relationship that then-BMS CEO Dr. Giovanni Caforio jumpstarted and BMS executive Premal Kamdar ’13 is passionately promoting.

“I loved my experience at Stevens, and I know its caliber,” Kamdar says. “Our priority is to sponsor more capstone projects, recruit top talent — I am delighted to report that third-year engineering major Matthew Nierman has agreed to join us for a summer 2024 internship — and pursue new research and other joint ventures. We are just beginning to explore the full potential of a very powerful collaboration.”

– Joan Kramer


Caforio spoke on campus through the President’s Distinguished Lecture Series last fall about how tech and new computer talent have the potential to exponentially speed up the development of life-saving medicines.

Read more and watch a video of the lecture.