**This is the first in a series on PhD alumni who are working in non-academic positions
After graduating with his PhD from the Department of Systems and Computer Engineering last year, Jeff Gilchrist landed a research position with the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO).
In this position, Gilchrist conducts research that will hopefully improve the outcomes of patients in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where the sickest newborns are treated.
He works with an interdisciplinary team that is responsible for the development of a Clinical Data Repository (CDR) that can efficiently collect and store clinical data from multiple systems, located in different departments of the hospital, in real-time, while maintaining patient privacy. As well, the team is using more accurate models, developed from the CDR data, to estimate the risk of certain kinds of medical conditions of newborn babies.
Says Gilchrist: “I love the fact that I get to work on research that gains valuable insight from patients who are actually there in the hospital that I can see and get feedback from in real-time. This research should lead to a practical system that can be put in place where patients can benefit from the results in real-time while there are being treated and monitored in the NICU.”
Gilchrist points out that the research he conducted at Carleton for his PhD thesis was the foundation for his future research career at CHEO. “The years I spent at CHEO working on my PhD allowed me to build working relationships with many people at the hospital which made it much easier to continue after I graduated.”
The alumnus says he chose to do his PhD at Carleton because of the opportunities to work directly with medical professionals on real problems through the research group of his PhD supervisor Dr. Monique Frize.
Gilchrist emphasizes the importance of networking for graduate students when they are looking for a job. “Many opportunities are not posted, so keep in touch with your friends and colleagues, and try to network as much as possible. Your next opportunity may be only a conversation away. Don’t be afraid to approach organizations and let them know what you are able to offer.”
Today, Gilchrist is also an Adjunct Research Professor at Carleton, where he co-supervies two graduate students with Dr. Frize. The students are also involved in doing research at CHEO. He has also created a professional photography business.
In 2008, Gilchrist made international news as part of a team that discovered the then largest known prime number. In January 2013, the same team discovered an even larger prime number that is currently the new record. It has 17.4 million digits.