One Year Anniversary

I can't believe it's been a whole year! Our One Year Anniversary Meetup is this Wednesday, August 24th, at 6:30pm and we have two amazing speakers, Clare Gollnick and Pri Oberoi.

Clare Gollnick’s obsession with data and inference began a decade ago as a neuroengineer, researching information processing in the brain and designing technologies to help the nervous system recover from disease. After earning her Ph.D. from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University in 2014, Clare joined Terbium Labs as the Chief Data Scientist. Now she spends her days writing algorithms and building a distributed data infrastructure that searches for illicit activity and leaked proprietary data on the dark web.

Pri Oberoi is a Data Scientist with a background in bioinformatics and health care. She has spent her career cross applying statistical methods and techniques between domains; from projects at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History to the Food and Drug Administration. Currently, she is at a public startup in the Department of Commerce where she develops machine learning models in R to make precision-policy changes and push for open data. Pri does pro bono work on the side, usually around issues that impact women, people of color, and LGBT folks. Pri can be found at

To start the second year off, I decided to get back on the blog wagon and asked each of our speakers a series of questions. Both speakers were very kind in humoring me, see their answers below.

  1. What is the thing you enjoy most about being a data scientist?
    Pri: There is a precipice when I am working on a project. It occurs after I have spent more time than I expect cleaning the data, as usual, and I am starting to explore feature selection and choosing the most appropriate statistical methods to try out. It sort of feels like that point when you are ready to start assembling a lego set, right after you have sorted all the pieces into piles by type and color.
    Clare: Data is a puzzle. The same data can be presented in multiple ways, and result in a very different conclusions. It’s a fun problem.
  2. How long have you been a member of WDSDC?
    Pri: I’m new!
    Clare: I went to the first WDSDC meetup. Even though I don’t work in DC anymore, I try to attend events whenever I can.
  3. What kinds of things do you do outside work?
    Pri: I do pro bono work for nonprofits in the area, I’m currently working with Whitman Walker Health. I also hang out with my partner and dogs, and watch terrible sci-fi and fantasy TV shows.
    Clare: I run. I’m an audiobook and podcast junky.
  4. Did you already know you wanted to work with data, if not what changed your mind?
    Pri: I was interning at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, working with horse flies, which is where I first learned I could combine coding, data, and the sciences.
    Clare: I am a neuroscientist by passion and training. Data has been a central for my entire career. However, the way I think about data has changed dramatically over the years.
  5. What, if anything, would you want not to be a part of your data science life?
    Pri: Visualization is a pretty important part of your end product since it is often the easiest way to get people interested in your results. I am terrible at making things looks pretty.
    Clare: I end up doing a lot of software engineering in order to make data usable for a customer. It is important, but not my favorite part of the process.
  6. Any other fun facts you would like to share about yourself?
    Pri: My partner and I foster dogs, this is Rocky (the website says Spalding, but he picked Rocky). He is the sweetest dog, you should try to adopt him.
    Clare: You will have to wait for my talk...

New Beginnings for a New Year

March 9th, 2016

This has been an amazing year already! Our first meetup of the year was highly attended even though it snowed that night. Thanks to all of you who came and thanks to Brixx for housing us! Our second meetup of the year was a two-fer, DC FemTech's Inspire event and an Asynchronous Resume Review. Our third meetup will be a data projects meetup on April 6th, come add a Data Science project to your resume!

We have a new co-organizer, Merav Yuravlivker! Merav is an amazing data scientist at Data Society and she has wonderfully joined us in the organization of our meetups! Merav spoke at our first meetup back in August 2015.

Last but certainly not least, we have a new logo! The logo was designed by Marie Pierce, a very talented graphic designer who volunteered to create our logo. The new logo is shown on our home page or you can click on the above link. Check out these other designs by Marie.

Can't wait to see everyone on April 6th!

Career Makeover Meetup

January 19th, 2016

Hi everyone!

Tomorrow evening at 7pm, we will be meeting at Brixx Pizza in Clarendon for our first meetup of the year! Because January is the start of hiring season and the time for making goals for the year, we will be discussing where we would like to be in a year data science wise.

We will have four data scientists from four different sectors, Rebecca Bilbro from government (Department of Commerce), Jacqueline Kazil from a large company (Capital One), Susanna Supalla from a small company (Blue Labs), and me (Mandi Traud) from a government contracting firm (L-3 Data Tactics). Each data scientist will speak a bit about their position and how that position may be different from the other sectors.

Each member will then write down their current position and their goal for the end of the year. We will then divide into four groups by end of year goal, grouping with the speaker that most matches your year end goal, and brainstorm steps, resume tips, and training for getting from current positions to end of year goal. You can also submit anonymous questions to each speaker which will be answered on the discussion board after the meetup.

As always, bring job announcements, workshop announcements, and conference announcements! You might also want to bring business cards and writing utensils.

Can’t wait to see you all!!

Creation of Women Data Scientists, DC

July 8th, 2015

So this group started with me whining, “I hate being the only girl on the team.” My boss then asked for suggestions of places to recruit women data scientists, saying “We would love to hire some, but are having a hard time finding them.” I then went looking. He was right, we are hard to find. I googled women in data science and found a few meetup groups, in San Francisco and New York, but not one in DC. One of my coworkers suggested I start one. So I walked into my boss’s office and asked if my company, L-3 Data Tactics would sponsor my new Meetup group, and not only did they offer to sponsor it, but they put me in contact with other meetup leaders and mentioned they had just met a woman data scientist who might be excited to co-found my group. So I emailed the data scientist, and Jackie is just as excited about founding this group as I am! So in a week, I go from being the only woman data scientist on my team to co-leading a meetup for women data scientists in DC…

Our first meeting is in 6 weeks and I can’t wait to meet the Women Data Scientists of DC!!!!!