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...