Curbing COVID-19 through scientific literature


Biljana Belamaric Wilsey, a Senior Program Manager in Analytics R&D and CEO Award of Excellence recipient, has always been a curious person. Her curiosity has shaped who she is and the life-changing decisions she has made.  

Biljana and coworker, Da Young Lee, attend a SAS International Connection lantern-making workshop at SAS headquarters.

Biljana Belamaric Wilsey, a Senior Program Manager in Analytics R&D and CEO Award of Excellence recipient, has always been a curious person. Her curiosity has shaped who she is and the life-changing decisions she has made.   

From  traveling half way around the world to accepting a scholarship opportunity at just 15 years of age to taking a class outside her normal course of study to auditioning for a band  which led to meeting her future husband, Biljana’s curiosity and inquisitive nature has led to surprising discoveries.    

But what drives a person’s curiosity? Some psychologists propose it’s the realization of an information gap, which motivates your behavior because you perceive that bridging that gap provides value. And research shows our brains can remember things better when our curiosity is activated. When that information gap is discovered and begins to bother you, that’s when the magic happens.   

As someone who spends most of her day asking questions, Biljana found herself asking how she can help make a difference when the coronavirus struck. A colleague who was heading up the COVID-19 volunteer effort for Analytics R&D convinced her to take charge of the Text Analytics response and conceptualize the COVID-19 Scientific Literature Search and Text Analysis dashboard. The project aimed to help the medical research community, government epidemiologists, first responders, health care providers, and others survey relevant research, find needles in haystacks, and be able to extract insights more efficiently. With knowledge of text data and SAS products for text mining and information extraction, Biljana was excited to put her curiosity to work to allow better and faster access to scientific literature, therefore leading to medical advancements.   

The COVID-19 Scientific Literature Search and Text Analysis project is something Biljana is very proud of. The team is providing users with the ability to quickly identify relevant scientific literature that can speed up their research and, hopefully, speed up the results and innovation from that research, which benefits us all. The dashboard that was created is provided by SAS free of charge and can be used by anyone.  

It’s also a great example of how awesome SAS employees are, both in their skills and expertise and in their willingness to use their own time to provide a service to the community as volunteers. It symbolizes the collaboration and cooperation from our diverse employees from different backgrounds, divisions, geographies, and tenures who came together to create something bigger than each individual team member. 

How can you be more curious in your everyday life? 

Biljana believes there are 3 key things we can all do to be more curious: 

1. Seek – Live life on discovery, not autopilot. Encourage discussions about curiosity. Reward learning from failure.

2. Ask – Ask harder and more questions. Ask why and why not. Frame meeting agendas as questions. Model inquisitiveness. 

3. ListenBe willing to be wrong. Stay open to surprises. Have “Curiosity Conversations.”  

Outside the office, Biljana enjoys spending time with her family.

Outside the Office

Biljana is happiest when spending time with family. You can often find them outside hiking, swimming, or playing board games together. With creativity being at the core of what she does, Biljana is passionate about playing piano and dabbling in the arts. But most importantly? She’s an advocate for education through her non-profit organization, the Macedonian Language E-Learning Center, and is author of several Macedonian-English bilingual children’s books.

Curious to learn more about how SAS is making a difference in the global fight against COVID-19? Check out our COVID-19 Data Analytics Resource Hub and stay tuned to hear about more People Behind the Models. 


About Author

Danielle Adams

HR Associate Communications Specialist

Danielle is an HR Associate Communications Specialist at SAS. A firm believer that it's not necessarily about WHAT you do for people, but HOW you make them feel, she's passionate about company culture and communicating why SAS is such an empowering place to work. Danielle graduated from Meredith College with a B.A. in Communications and a concentration in Public Relations.

Leave A Reply

Back to Top