Faces of UMSI: Etiowo Usoro

In Ibibio, Etiowo means good man and Nkeneke translates to non-conformist. Together, these names mean “never being afraid to do the right thing,” even when doing so doesn’t fit the status quo. “I was born, the name was chosen, the path was set.” Etiowo decided the best way to be a good man was by pursuing health informatics. 

Resisting the sports rivalry, he transitioned from Michigan State University where he received his bachelor’s degree in physiology, to the University of Michigan Master's Degree in Health Informatics.

“I spent a lot of time between this program and undergrad thinking about ways I can help the world. I know that sounds cliché, but, my mom is a nurse, my sister is a doctor, my other sister is an engineer, my father is an engineer. They’re all making an impact.” Etiowo wondered how he could make a difference. “I discovered that by combining data analysis and information, understanding people in the context of healthcare, I can impact the way people interact with their health.” 

He was drawn to the opportunities at UMSI. “I was able to connect with research projects within a couple months. There was also the potential to collaborate with highly ranked schools and departments.” 

Currently, he’s working with associate professor Joyce Lee as a data analyst for diabetes patients. He’s also working on a prostate cancer clinical decision dashboard with assistant professor Karandeep Singh and health services research fellow Greg Auffenberg.

Etiowo believes “Michigan is a great place for public health ventures” because “there are so many amazing research projects here.”

Before U of M, “I thought these things were out of reach, especially coming from a natural science background. I wanted to become more analytical, wanted to think about these issues, but I thought that was reserved for computer scientists. It was nice to come here and realize that I didn’t need to have prior technical training to invent.”

When he’s not working, Etiowo photographs landscapes or visits friends and family. Family is big for him, not just at home, but at school. Of his three sisters, two graduated from the University of Michigan and one is attending as an undergraduate. 

In his spare time, Etiowo volunteers. He says helping others isn’t a big commitment, it’s “something simple I can do, expending a half hour to an hour every day to help relieve struggling.” In the past, Etiowo volunteered for Northwest Harvest Food Bank and Special Days Camp. 

At UMSI, he likes to organize peer study groups. Etiowo values his relationships with MHI students, and the diversity of his cohort. “We have a lot of people, international and domestic, who come from nursing, industrial design, medicine, statistics, natural science and everything between.” He has decidedly learned from his fellow students. “They have a broad spectrum of skills, and that’s the kind of person I want to be.” 

Etiowo hopes to become a population health analyst or data scientist working to reduce the cost of healthcare. Ultimately, he wants to continue making easy to implement solutions that bridge the gap between research and treatment. “The healthcare industry needs more advancement. There’s a lot of potential, and I’m hoping to raise the bar.”

When asked to reflect on his time at UMSI, he said “It’s funny to see how far I’ve come. I never would’ve thought I’d be able to design and create new ways of thinking about healthcare.” He elaborated, “I always wanted to be an inventor. Now I realize I’m achieving that goal by being able to innovate.”