Making A Difference With Data

Mike Durham MS '17 is Saint Mary's first male legacy

Mike Durham MS '17 at graduation ceremonyMike Durham MS ’17 is not the first male graduate of Saint Mary’s College, but as the husband of Lisa Horenkamp Durham ’93, MS ’17, he holds the title of first male legacy.

The Durhams graduated this past May as members of the inaugural Master of Science in Data Science class. According to Mike, “It’s been a lot of fun to be part of Saint Mary’s, where Lisa spent such a significant part of her life.”

And Saint Mary’s has allowed Mike to grow in his career. As a solution architect for Teradata Corporation, which sells, supports, and consults on big data projects, Mike personally supports the government Department of Defense clients. Thanks to his expanded analytics skills, Mike is now able to converse with his clients’ data scientists on a peer-to-peer level. “I’m able to understand, evaluate, and communicate the value of data analytics with respect to the mission or clients’ goals,” he says.

Forecasting Opioid Effects with Data

But Mike isn’t just using data to drive corporate decision-making; he recognizes its power to actually make a meaningful difference in people’s lives. This summer he is working with Defense Health to examine opioid use among veterans and active duty military personnel. As the number one killer of Americans under age 50, opioid overdoses lead to more fatalities than car crashes or even gun violence. According to a June 20 article from the South Bend Tribune, “National data show that 2 percent of high school students and 2.5 percent of adults are addicted to opiates, which can include prescription painkillers such as morphine, hydrocodone and oxycodone.”

Mike’s efforts aim to use data to predict who is most at risk of three harmful side effects from opioid use: overdose, respiratory issues, and addiction. “We’re looking for patterns that show who is most likely to fall into these three categories,” he says. “If we can start using data to identify people at risk, we can implement early intervention programs to prevent them from falling into these cycles.”

Mike’s predictive efforts could help reduce the cycle of addiction and potentially save lives.

Article reprinted from Courier, Fall/Winter 2017. See other great articles or download full issues online at
Editor’s Note: The first men to graduate from Saint Mary’s were Jerry Irvin Oberly MA ’67 with a master’s of art in special education and Rev. Robert J. McCarthy PhD ’67 with a doctorate in sacred doctrine.