The Download: Maia Majumder sees herself as a data point

(Photo: Aram Boghosian/Boston Globe)
(Photo: Aram Boghosian/Boston Globe)

MIT graduate student Maia Majumder applies mathematics to infectious disease data. In the past year, she has tracked the spread of Ebola and Middle East respiratory syndrome. Majumder, 25, uses Twitter as a professional tool to discuss her research and to interact with colleagues around the world. That has gotten her noticed, leading to a fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital and a contract for an academic book she will co-edit. Majumder shared her digital habits with The Download.


What device gets you up in the morning? My phone. I have an alarm on my iPhone that wakes me up every morning.

What is the first app you open? It’s probably a 50-50 split between the iPhone Mail app and Twitter.

What is the last app you downloaded? Periscope, which is the app Twitter put out two weeks ago. It’s pretty cool. When I first downloaded it I thought, ‘This is crazy, who’s going to watch what I’m doing through the day?’ But my husband convinced me. We shared videos of a cousin’s wedding. Twitter is one of those places that is a great way to interact with strangers and make friends and meet new colleagues in a way that isn’t scary or creepy, and Periscope extends that in a way that is more intimate. It’s growing on me.

Who is a must-follow on Twitter? I ended up following people­ whose work I really admire. If I read a paper in Science or Nature or Cell, I go on Twitter and see if the authors have accounts. What I’ve found is that I am picking up on new papers and new studies before they’re getting media ­attention, which allows me to stay on the cusp of new work.

How do you follow the news? Most of my news consumption comes from Twitter, from news agencies, friends I ­follow. It’s allowed my news intake to be more focused on what I’m interested in.

What is your favorite tech tool? I own a Basis band. It’s like a Fitbit on steroids. I get a real kick out of this watch because­ I feel like I’m my own experiment. It has the capacity­ to show me text messages, act as a smartwatch, but I love it because it shows me my heart rate and how many steps I’m walking during the day. It does a terrific job of monitoring my sleep. It’s interesting to see myself as a data point; I really enjoy that.

This story appeared on page C4 of the Boston Globe business section on April 9, 2015. Know someone who wants to share their digital habits? E-mail­ us at thedownload@globe.com.

Nidhi Subbaraman writes about science and research. Email her at nidhi.subbaraman@globe.com.
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