Layla Aref

PhD Student

I received my B.S. in physics and mathematics from Vanderbilt University in 2019. At Vanderbilt, I became fascinated with the applications of physics, mathematics, and computer science in solving biological problems. I worked for seven months in a biophysics lab with Dr. Shane Hutson, where I did cell image segmentation and performed physical and mathematical analysis to infer cellular tension and anisotropy. I then spent two years in Dr. Jens Meiler’s lab, where I worked on using machine learning to predicting the approximate positions of quantum mechanical molecular orbitals.

I am currently working toward a PhD in Vanderbilt’s Quantitative and Chemical Biology program. I am interested in using statistical and computational techniques to learn from biological and medical data. Outside of research, I enjoy cooking, rereading the Lord of the Rings, and volunteering at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.


The phers R package: using phenotype risk scores based on electronic health records to study Mendelian disease and rare genetic variants, Aref et al., Bioinformatics 2022

A computational approach to identify interfering medications on urine drug screening assays without data from confirmatory testing, Ayala-Lopez et al., J Anal Toxicol 2020